The Good Girls

HarperTeen. Dec. 2020. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062943101.
Gr 8 Up–High school student Emma Baines is missing and presumed dead, and police have their eyes on three of her classmates: Claude, the smart-mouthed rebel; Avery, the preppy cheerleader; and Gwen, the academic rival. But secrets run deep in this Colorado mountain town, and appearances are deceiving. As each suspect struggles to prove their innocence, evidence builds against them. The narration is punctuated with blog entries, interview transcripts, chat logs, and news articles. Though the feminist overtones of the story are a welcome addition to the YA thriller genre, the book as a whole does not stand out within the saturated arena. The four protagonists are indistinct and easily confused with one another, and certain plot elements, such as the addition of an anonymous blogger, seem disconnected from the story. Though fans of Karen M. McManus and Courtney Summers will see familiar themes throughout the narrative, the book misses key elements of suspense that would have made it a compelling thriller. The lead-up to the climax is a jumble, and the final scenes rush to deliver an underwhelming conclusion. No character’s race is explicitly stated, and the only cultural signifiers are that Gwen is Welsh. Claude is described as having dark hair and light skin, and Avery, Gwen, and Emma are described as blonde and blue-eyed.
VERDICT Though strong in its feminist convictions, a hurried ending, muddied mystery, and unmemorable characters make this book an additional purchase at best.

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