Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive
Title: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Publication Date: 5/12/15
Pages: 352
Genre: ThrillerFiction
How I Found It: Unsure
Date Completed: 1/1/16

Summary: Ani seems to have it all together; she has a great job and a rich, handsome fiancĂ©. Yet, her bright future may be dismantled by a pull from her dark past. 

What I Thought: Ani reminded be so much of Amy from Gone Girl. Their narcissism and manipulative personalities fly in tandem across the reaches of the literary world. Their differences? To me, Amy is irredeemable, show no cracks, and seems an antithetical product of her upbringing. Ani has yet to be fully pulled in by the darkness which created her; redemptive hope glimmers in the cracks of her facade. 

The book alternates between Ani's grown-up life of wealth and ambition and her scarred teenage years as TifAni. You realize early on that events in her past affected her deeply, though Knoll only reveals the picture one small piece at a time. The reader slowly learns from where Ani's bitterness and cynicism stem. The more I learned of her past, the more this hateful protagonist softened in my eyes; I pitied her and wanted to sign her up for intensive therapy. As you come to understand her faults, you can see past them to her vulnerabilities and fears. 

I felt Knoll was particularly good at capturing the teenage voice and experience. It's not an easy thing to do well; those in the stage tend to have underdeveloped writing abilities and those of us past the stage tend to block it out or, at the least, view it through an altered lens of maturity. Knoll's picture of both Ani's teenage years as well as her adult ones felt authentic and believable. I commend her for accomplishing this; it can't have been easy.

I do have to say, this book is gritty. Gillian Flynn level gritty, for sure. It's dark and painful and heart-breaking at times. There were a few scenes I skimmed, uncomfortable with the detail. I do understand how every gritty detail enhances Ani's character development. Still. I could have done with less info and language and more ambiguity at some points. If someone could write a thriller as captivating as this or Gone Girl without those aspects toned way down, I would be first in line.

Apparently, this book is being made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon at the helm as producer. Since Witherspoon also produced the Gone Girl movie, I would venture the parallels between the two stories will continue. I imagine the film adaptation of this book will be similar to Gone Girl if only in my need to close my eyes or fast forward through some select scenes. 

If you like Gillian Flynn's work, I think you will like this. To me, it's more of the same ilk than The Girl on the Train was, despite the fact that book was touted all over creation as the successor to Flynn's best seller. If you do pick this one up, just be prepared for the darkness of human nature to be on full display. You may want to take it in small chunks (a la Breaking Bad episodes, of which I can only watch a few at a time before needing to watch something happy), but the mystery of Ani's past may keep you too riveted to look away.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely - thrillers are typically best the first time around
If You Liked This Try: Unbecoming / The Girl on the Train / Gone Girl

A Reduced Review: This thriller is dark and gritty and uncomfortable at times, but I simply couldn't put it down. 

No comments:

Post a Comment