Review : All The Missing Girls

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Author : Megan Miranda

Publication Date : October 2015

Publisher(s) : Simon & Schuster ( US )  &

Corvus ( UK )

When the suspense / detective fiction genres stayed simple , we had a crime or a string of crimes  , a detective and a good number of suspects . Sometimes these detectives came with their own sidekicks who will be the faithful chronicler / comic relief and sometimes bring his / her own accidental observations to the table which would help the sleuth to identify the perpetrator of the crime(s) . Then one sidekick proved that the detective needs to keep an eye on the person behind him too – one of the early books in the genre to feature an unreliable narrator . Then our crime fiction writers pounced upon it and now it has been done to death .

*Review starts here for the reader who can’t bother with my musings*

Once in a while , a writer is game enough to try something unusual in the way a story is told . And if the book becomes a bestseller , it would become yet another latest literary trope that several subsequent releases would implement . Megan Miranda has tackled an interesting narrative technique in her debut novel and has done it really well – the narrative traces the storyline in reverse : from Day 15 to Day 1 . Sounds interesting right ? ? I am waiting to see how this newest narrative technique picks up .

Here ‘ s brief summary of the story line –

Nicolette Farrell receives a letter from her father – ” I need to talk to you . That girl . I saw that girl ‘ . ‘ That girl ‘ is Corinne Prescott , her best friend who disappeared without a trace ten years ago . Nicolette left her hometown after Corinne ‘ s disappearance  and lives in Philadelphia . She returns home , concerned that her father ‘ s dementia has worsened or has he actually seen Corinne ? .

Then , another young lady disappears , almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished . The townspeople relive Corinne ‘ s disappearance once again – searches are conducted ; everyone becomes a suspect . . . but there is no sign of the missing girl .

My thoughts on the book :

Nicolette is the narrator here and one can see what happens when the author goes with the first person narrative from a non –  sleuth character : The narrative has too much domestic drama rather than the sleuth action . I wouldn’t mind it if the story had a good pace though . . . Unfortunately , that was not the case here .

Nicolette ‘ s narrative comprises chiefly her teenage memories ( understandably ) –  the dynamics and the drama in the teenage friendships , relationship troubles and almost everything in between about her teenage years .  While Megan has played well with the plot points involving teenage psyche and even the psychological make – up of the characters in the present , Nicolette going on and on about her feelings then and now sometimes becomes too irritating . Then , there is the ” capture the moment ” writing where Nicolette points out every insignificant thing in the scene . While the hyper-realistic approach might work for the literary fiction / contemporary fiction genres , it slows down the pace and ( at-least for me ) it was really frustrating .  Only Megan’s pretty good writing kept me turning the pages .

A humble suggestion to the new crop of authors who feel a book must have 300 + pages to qualify as a book :

All this exposition of the characters’ psyche in addition to the real life drama is good only when the drama doesn’t become melodrama ( at-least by the standards of the suspense genre ) with detailed descriptions of what the character actually is feeling / might be feeling  .  Few genres like suspense could do very well without long – winded and flowery descriptions and metaphors coined by you .

After navigating through the torrent of drama in Nicolette ‘ s life , it is somewhat difficult to appreciate the really good ending . There were few scenarios where I also felt the characters did not react consistent with their characterization .One of my earlier reads also had the same problem of too much distracting stuff – coincidentally that too had a sighting of a girl who had been missing  for a long time .

Some suggestions to the new crop of crime fiction authors who feel a book must have 300 + pages to qualify as a book ( especially for newbie ‘ s who are right now banging away at their keyboards to write the next Gone Girl or the next Girl On The Train :

All this exposition of the characters’ psyche in addition to the real life drama is good only when the drama doesn’t become melodrama ( at-least by the standards of the suspense genre ) with detailed descriptions of what the character actually is feeling / might be feeling  .  Few genres like suspense could do very well without long – winded and flowery descriptions and metaphors coined by you . I would like to quote Stephen King here –

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day…fifty the day after that…and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s—GASP!!—too late.” 

It has become sort of a trend nowadays for crime fiction writers to fill up the pages with too many details & preferences of the characters , I wonder why . . .

A final word –

Also this needs to be a one sitting read so that you don’t get confused by the reverse narrative . When you go for multiple sittings ( like I had to , unfortunately ) the reading experience won’t be very great . However , it is a superb storyline and for a debut author to experiment with the narrative technique and pulling it off successfully , it is really remarkable .

You can pick this book if you are ready to give it enough time . If you want a racy read , then this wouldn ‘ t be a good pick . If you have already read this book , how do you feel about this book ?

Is there something in the post you disagree with ? Feel free to write about it as well in the comments section . . .

Until the next review then . . .

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