My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars to Sara Shepard‘s The Good Girls, the potentially conclusive second novel in her Perfectionist’s series. After reading the debut of the series last month, I was quickly intrigued and needed to read the second novel to learn what happens to the 5 girls who seemed to be hiding something. I picked it up yesterday morning and finished it within a few hours as my Sunday read. It’s a fascinating ending and floats a potential opening for a third installment down the line, but it is also good should it just end here at book 2.
Book 1 leaves the 5 girls recognizing that the teacher they thought was the killer (who actually enacted the murder plot the girls has dreamed up as a joke) was then murdered himself. Yikes, the teacher can’t be the murdered, so now what? Book 2 picks up with the girls each being interviewed by the police to try and piece together what’s going on. The girls hold strong and don’t reveal all they know hoping to figure out who is doing the killing and making it look like it’s actually the girls behind it all. The sub-stories grow more intense and one by one each of the proposed murder victims from the original plot start to show up dead. A huge twist comes into play about 2/3 of the way through this book leaving the reader utterly confused and shocked but in the last 100 pages, it unravels and you realize all that you missed along the way.
It’s a well-orchestrated plot with so many stories having to collide and so many potential suspects having to be present and concerning. It takes a strong writer to pull off this type of complexity; however, Shepard takes it a whole leap forward with the twist reveal 2/3 of the way through that I kept stopping to think back to the first book and the beginning part of book 2. I swore there were mistakes and it didn’t jive, but it actually does… you get so drawn into the story that you may miss the hidden clues along the way.
Due to the style and the actual plot/killer, a few things had to be left out along the way. Some readers may be annoyed because they think they know someone but they really do not know them. It’s also a bit of a jump to go from what we know to what we actually find out and see it as fully believable. (Trying not to reveal any spoilers here!) In the end, with a bit of disbelief and blinking one eye a lot, I see how it happened. But it went pretty far before someone figure out what was actually going on… I think that’s where it gets a bit off track.
Shepard is highly imaginative and really knows how to create different characters and plot lines. For that alone, one should read this book. But given this is her 25+ book, it will eventually start to feel all too similar. I watched Pretty Little Liars so I don’t feel the need to go back and read all ~15 books in that collection, but I will probably give another one of her series a chance next year.