Review: The Good Girl

Posted by in What I Think About What You Wrote (Reviews)

When you start thinking about selling your novel, all of a sudden genre becomes important. Agents and publishers want to know who your audience is, how they are going to sell that doorstop, and what hole they are going to cram you into. Heaven forbid you approach an editor with a romance who doesn’t do romance, or a YA novel to a publisher that only does paranormal suspense. So, you need to label yourself so this is all neat and tidy.

Don’t just pick a genre though, find other works, recent ones, that are like yours, that you can compare your work to. Editors don’t want grandiose claims, they don’t want to hear that your sci-fi graphic novel is the love child of Shakespeare and Stephen King. It needs to be a real comparison. Do your homework. This part should be easy for me, I read all the time.

But it isn’t. Nothing fits. Everything itches.

Something I previously hadn’t given any thought about – what type of book this is anyway – is making me crazy. So I start looking at my bookshelves, trying to figure out what books I’ve read that are similar to what I’ve written. I read a lot of thrillers, they are where my love lies, there has to be something on my shelf that fits, right?

Of course, nothing really does. My story has romantic elements, but isn’t really a romance; there is a lot of suspense, but it’s not a crime thriller; there are no paranormal, police, or medical angles. No serial killers. No political plots. Maybe it is more a psychological thriller? With a strong female voice?

Skimming my shelves my eye rested on a group of books by Gillian Flynn.I don’t want to compare my novel to Gone Girl for lots of reasons. Firstly, Gone Girl is a crazy success. Second, I didn’t love it. Third, my heroine isn’t a psychopath. But – my novel is a thriller, written by a woman, with a strong female protagonist. I think this might be as close as I’m going to get. But still I wonder if this is only the beginning of the rabbit hole. Maybe Gone Girl will lead me to something closer.

So that is how The Good Girl ended up on my bookshelf. Everything I read said that it was like Gone Girl. Thriller. Female author. I had high hopes.

The Good Girl is author Mary Kubica’s debut. It takes place in Chicago in the modern day. It is the story of Mia/Chloe who is kidnapped by Owen/Colin. It is told in snippets going back and forth between Owen/Colin, Mia’s mother, and the investigating Detective. From the beginning you know that Mia/Chloe survives, the big question is just a matter of how, what happened to Owen/Colin, and why did she get taken in the first place?

At first you think Owen/Colin is a terrible person, because of course he is a kidnapper, but when he has second thoughts, and tries to save Mia/Chloe the water gets muddy. Additionally, the book has been compared to Gone Girl over and over, and SPOILERS FOR GONE GIRL – the chick in that book is bad news and orchestrated her own fake kidnapping. So, as you’re reading The Good Girl you’re waiting for the shoe to drop. You know Mia/Chloe is involved somehow, it’s just the specifics that need to be sorted out.

I’m not going to reveal the end, except to say that I was disappointed. The most likable character is dead, the least likable gets punished but doesn’t really get everything that should come to him, and the people in the middle are just kind of wishy washy and boring.

I started reading the book hoping that I had found something to use to get editors excited about my book, but in the end I hope that no one ever compares this story to mine.