Full Review : Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls: A Novel (Amazon Link)

Year Published : 2015
Genre : Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Real-Life Horror

Edition : Kindle eBook
# of Pages : 548 pages (419 pages paperback)
Time Spent Reading : 7 hours


Twenty years ago Claire Scott’s eldest sister, Julia, went missing. No one knew where she went – no note, no body. It was a mystery that was never solved and it tore her family apart.

Now another girl has disappeared, with chilling echoes of the past. And it seems that she might not be the only one.

Claire is convinced Julia’s disappearance is linked.

But when she begins to learn the truth about her sister, she is confronted with a shocking discovery, and nothing will ever be the same…


My opinions see-sawed a lot from beginning to end. At times I liked it, at other times I pointedly didn’t.

The beginning is strong. There are a small number of chapters strewn about that are told from a victim’s father’s perspective- those sections are beautifully written and showcase some potential within the writing. Things develop quickly. The overarching story has potential. At the 25% mark, there’s a bombshell revelation that had me needing to find out what all happened and be willing to see it through to the end.. even as other important things weren’t being handled quite so well.

The characters are not very likable or smart. Granted, they’re in a terrible situation, but connecting emotionally with them was hard. There are many fantastic books with unlikable characters, but the root of the problem with the characters in Pretty Girls seems deeper. I’m just not impressed by the dialogue between the characters or their thought processes. The skeletal idea behind this book is stellar but the writing dips at times to the point of shlock and could seem like something out of a Lifetime movie. And yet there are still clever little machinations in the plot (some more noticeable after completion) that keep me from writing it off entirely.

The ending, while not saving it all, was a higher point. For anyone who gets pretty far in this book but considers giving it up for the dark dreariness, I highly recommend at least reading the last 3-4 chapters or so.

I’d heard this novel being described as too disturbing, not for the faint of heart, full of graphic content- there are some upsetting scenes but most of the sequences are told from a distance- such as a character viewing a terrible image or video and describing it. This definitely isn’t OK for anyone under the age of 18 or anyone who’s squeamish though.

So to sum it up, this book has great ideas, not the greatest execution. A story that I could get behind and really something I haven’t seen done before, but characters that really held it back. I must say that the readability is top notch though, I stayed up well into the night flying through this book and would be willing to try more by this author. Also, I could imagine an adaptation (depending on how it’s handled) would make for a great thriller.

Overall Rating – 6/10

Why You Should Try It – If this premise sounds irresistible- a family torn apart by a horrific event, sisters who attempt to reconnect after years estranged, and an antagonist that is at the heart of all their conflict. Those themes are basically what kept me from setting this one aside and be willing to handle its lesser aspects.

Critique – Characters bungle many chances to be clever or likable, mostly unimpressive dialogue, some gross descriptions cut away what could be a larger audience.

Pretty Girls: A Novel (<- Click here to visit Amazon and read a sample of Pretty Girls.)

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