BOOK REVIEWS

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: BOOK REVIEW


An Anonymous Girl
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

★✰✰✰✰ 1 of 5 stars

A better suited title for this novel would be An Edgy Girl.
Image result for an anonymous girl book

This is the mostly badly written book I have ever read. An Anonymous Girl is a bad version of the rather dodgy film Cruel Intentions with an added sprinkle of a soap opera.

If you enjoyed this book, please look away now.
If you are thinking of reading this book, I entreat you to think twice.

 

I don’t like to be the ‘bad guy’. And by ‘bad guy’ I mean the type of reviewer who writes harsh reviews and is overly critic about certain genres. I always try to remind myself that people will have different tastes and it isn’t fair to be too critical or rude about a book… in this case however I can’t quite comprehend how this book has so many positive reviews. What in the whole history of literature is happening? Have I landed in some alternative reality? Did I read a completely different book?

I was tempted to pinch myself while I was reading my copy of An Anonymous Girl to see if I was actually awake and reading or if I was having a nightmare. Turns out, I was wide awake and reading what I have come to regard as the worst book I have ever had the displeasure to read.
My review will include incriminating evidence some quotes from An Anonymous Girl which will corroborate my unfavourable review of this novel.

I do not expect all psychological thrillers to be as well written as the ones by Gillian Flynn or Tana French. While I do consider some of the authors that I read to be ‘guilty pleasures’ (Colleen Hoover, Harlan Coben) I do not believe in the existence of ‘lowbrow fiction’.
I started An Anonymous Girl thinking that it would be one of the many – far too many – Gone Girl wannabes. I didn’t expect to be mind-blown but I was hoping to read a suspenseful and entertaining mystery.
A few pages in, I lowered my already low expectations.
So…here goes my ranty review.

THE WRITING

I could talk about the idiotic plot – which revolves around the typical triangle of people, with shifting ‘power dynamics’, betrayals, jealousies, yadda yadda yadda – the unbelievable and one-dimensional characters, the predictable and laughable twists….or I could address the main problem…the writing.
This ‘novel’ (calling this a novel feels wrong) is so badly written that I am surprised it was published in the first place. The writing reminded me of a text that has been translated by Google translator. Yes, it is that bad.
Jessica Farris and Dr. Shields are the main characters and narrators of this story.
Jessica is a the typical lead, forgettable and as bland as toothpaste. She thinks she is different from others because of a ‘traumatic event’ which might or might not be her own fault (insert predictable saw-that-coming twist here), and Dr. Shields is the ‘intelligent’ and ‘manipulative’ villainess (a Bond villain cast off ).

1) Jessica’s point of view included a lot of cheesy observations. We are to believe that her focus is on making money and her family but really all she cares about is clothes. She sounds like an effing advert:

The first rule: my unofficial uniform. I wear all black, which eliminates the need to coordinate a new outfit every morning. It also sends a message of subtle authority. I choose comfortable, machine-washable layers that will look as fresh at seven P. M. as they do at seven A. M.

This sounds like the voiceover of some tacky ad? Or…this reads a lot like lazy handwriting, and I am sure there are other ways of telling your readers that a character dresses professionally.
Or this actually seems like a rip off from the opening scene of American Psycho, but whereas that was satirical…this isn’t.

My skin is darker than Dr. Shield’s, and my fingers are shorter. Instead of elegant, the color looks edgy on me.

This is hilarious. What the actual fork? What kind of person would use the word ‘edgy’ to describe their clothes/appearance/makeup…? An angsty rebellious teenager? I don’t even think they would…real people wouldn’t. I doubt that a ‘professional’ twenty-eight year old woman would refer to her nail varnish as being ‘edgy’.

Her neck is long and graceful, and no amount of contouring can create the kind of cheekbones she possess.

Of course, both Jessica and Dr. Shields are beautiful. We will be reminded of this. A lot.

Her periwinkle turtleneck sweater and silk skirt skin her long, lithe body.

What is the obsession with clothes?! And why do we have to be constantly reminded

 that these two women dress like fashion models? And why use ‘lithe’ and beautiful every other sentence…

As soon as I am beside her, I smell her clean, spicy perfume.

Enough already! This is not a perfume ad!

Excessive focus on appearances and clothing-wear aside, Jessica’s POV had a lot weirdly phrased observations or sentences:

I rub Germ-X on my hands and pop an Altoid in my mouth before I ring the buzzer for Apartment 6D. I’m five minutes early. Another rule.

The first sentence is so superfluous. Why specify that you put cream on your hands and an Altoid in your mouth? Where else would you put them? And what is the deal with these short snappy sentences?! They do not create a rhythm or build up suspense, they simply come across as being artificial and oddly contrived.
And why does Jessica sound like an unbelievably stupid guide book?

Intellectually, I can’t see how this could hurt anyone.

Intellectually, I don’t see how this book is so hyped. Also, using intellectually isn’t very…’intellectual’ or believable. It sounds like something that a pantomime actor would say. Who in the world would say: Intellectually, I see your point or some nonsense like that. No one.
But Jessica gets even better, and here are her remarks after an encounter with the most hilariously badly written ‘drug addict’ in the history, a man who within half a page we discover – shock horror – is paranoid and beats his girlfriend up…yep, *drug addict alert* …or maybe that is how they behave in csi or soap operas…

“The guy was bad news!”

“But that woman you sent me to? Her boyfriend was clearly on drugs.”

Jessica saying ‘that guy is bad news’ non-ironically did make me laugh, so cheers for that.

Anyhow, these quotes are just a few examples of why Jessica’s narration is terrible: she sounds like a mix between a l’oreal voiceover and an off-key new adult novel – yet, her chapters seem somewhat competent – yes, I kid you not – when compared to Dr. Shields’ POV.

2) Prepare yourself for the never written before Dr.Shields: the manipulative, sexy and dangerous woman…who sounds like a forking A.I.
The best way to let your readers know that you are reading from the POV of a mysterious and seductive woman is to make her sound like a forking sexy robot. Because distancing the reader through a stilted and impersonal narration is a clever way of introducing them to the ‘villain’ of the story.
A few examples below:

It was the question you didn’t answer, though, the one you struggled with as you scraped at your nails, that holds the most intrigue. This test can free you, Subject 52. Surrender to it.

Dun dun dun….
Does she have to sound so theatrical?

You stand out, and not only because of your unconventional beauty.

From every angle, you are enchanting.

This time it is Dr. Shields who is checking out Jessica. Sounding like some sort of predator. And just reminding us readers that we are indeed reading of two beautiful women.
Since Dr. Shields is an intelligent woman here are a few of her insightful nuggets:

It is easy to judge other’s people choices. It is far more complex when the choices are your own.

Trust is a necessary component of a committed relationship.

A fortune cookie would provide me with the same information. 
The worst aspect of her POV is that it refers to Jessica – and occasionally Thomas – in the second person:

Your motive for wanting to flee must be scrutinized.

I am all for experimenting with point of views…when done well. This is far from well done.
Why make objects the subject of your phrases?

His glass of water is procured. Then the green phone icon is touched.

It doesn’t sound edgy. It sounds ridiculous.

“I’ll get it,” he is told.

The buzzer is pressed for Apartment 4c.

These phrases do not build suspense. They do not intrigue or mystify readers. They were just bloody irritating.

Thomas insisted he go up to his room while Thomas paid the check.

This one phrase puzzled me. I can’t believe that no one picked up on it. It sounds super odd. ‘Thomas tells his friend x to go to his room while Thomas pays’….what in the hell?!

The Tylenol is in the medicine cabinet, but tucked behind a box containing a new skin-care cream. More than a cursory glance will be necessary to locate it.

Really? Again with these superfluous phrases? And who even thinks like that? She really does come across as being a robot.

3) Special mention of those infamous “moral issues”:

He could be so committed to his job that he finds it hard to turn off, kind of like the way I’m beginning to find it difficult to stop thinking about moral issues.

Oh yeah. Those ‘moral issues’ keeping me up at night…
Don’t be fooled. This book is not concerned with an exploration of ethics & morality. This book cares about the exaggerated and “dangerous” relationship between two beautiful women who believe that they are in a Bond film. The ‘tension’ between the two is so oddly contrived and their interactions are beyond credible.
The so called ‘art’ of seduction and flirting are the novel’s main concern.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book in my opinion is rather trashy. I don’t enjoy writing those words but that is what I have come to believe after wasting hours of my life on it. I kept hoping that it would at least provide some sort of twist that would make up for the horrid writing…but no.
I am not saying that the authors are not capable of writing, I believe that most people could probably write a decent piece of fiction, but this is indeed the most badly written book I have ever come across.

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BOOK REVIEWS

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King


Exceptions were not the point. The point was the general case. The point was history.

King & son are so bloody good.

This novel is an epic: both in its proportions and for the sheer amount of characters involved. Different plotlines intertwine into a complex and detailed tapestry that combines many different genres. King’s portrayal of a small community rings true to life: there is an authenticity in his depiction of this close-knit community that makes the both the town and its inhabitants incredibly vivid.
With the appearance of Aurora in Dooling, existing tensions within the community bubble to surface. Dooling houses a female prison which plays a large role in the novel. There are no real protagonists given that the novel follows a multitude of characters, all of which are depicted as neither good or bad. King’s gives us multi-faceted characters, some change through the course of Aurora, others remain rooted in their beliefs. I loved reading about the same scene from different perspective: by doing so, we get a fuller and fairer view on what was happening. King doesn’t side with anyone in particular: he doesn’t idealize Lila and Clint, nor does he vilify Frank or excuses the female prisoners. They are all refreshingly human.
On the one hand, you have the suspense, the thrill, created by Aurora and Evie. On the other, this novel addresses social, political, philosophical, and religious issues. As it were, King seems to use the supernatural, the ‘Other’, to confront and explore a myriad of topics.
Skillfully written and thrumming with tension, King has created an engaging and challenging novel that doesn’t shy away from depicting humanity at its worst.
Bravo.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars