REVIEW: The Girlfriend, Sarah J. Naughton

Monday, 25 June 2018

After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her rebellious brother, Abe, is in a coma, and the police suspect he tried to take his own life. But Mags isn't so sure, and she begins to crack away at the life of the brother she once knew: the dark apartment building, the whispering tenants, and her brother's mysterious girlfriend, the only witness to the incident, who raises more questions than answers. As Mags picks up where the police left off, she begins to unearth the secrets her brother left behind—and awakens her own talent for revenge.

I think the place where a mystery/thriller novel finds its rating is in its ending. No matter how good it has been for that first 80%, the last few pages can ruin absolutely everything that the book has built towards - the tension, the character development, the intrigue... *poof*. Gone in an instant.
A majority of The Girlfriend placed in firmly in the category of a decent thriller - it didn’t completely blow me away, but the pacing and the story was intriguing and original enough that it could’ve achieved a far greater position if Sarah J. Naughton would have nailed the ending. The author created enough mystery around the awake characters, and enough love and empathy towards its unconscious one, that I was actually quite enjoying myself overall.
Sure, there were issues, like in most books of the genre - the three main point of view characters, Mags, Mira and Jody, were quite flat and unsteadily leaned towards becoming two-dimensional stereotypes (which can be successful depending on the skill of the writer but, with such lines as, “I’d want a girl [if I was pregnant]. I’m a feminist”, it more often than not rather clumsily missed the mark); and weirdly, the need of Mags to point out both the exact nationality (which would be near impossible for an actual human being) of the people she walked past and how ugly they were, which I felt was just a bit unnecessary. Especially in relation to the fact that she and her brother were supposedly absolutely model-esque and drop dead gorgeous; honestly, if Naughton is to be believed, they are the only good-looking people in that borough of London.
Maybe it was done to create realism, I don’t know, but honestly it felt judgy and more than a little fatphobic.
I sound as though I didn’t like most of it, I promise that I did.
I feel that maybe, I have been left a little bitter by the ludicrous ending (which I can’t tell you about in any way, shape or form because that would be a massive spoiler alert), but isn’t that the way with these books? I didn’t particularly like the ending of The Shining, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t wholly adore the book because, with a book like that, it doesn’t rely entirely on its ending.
The Girlfriend does, and that’s why it’s only getting two-stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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