Overall Rating: 3.75/5
Quality of Prose: 3.5/5
Quality of Story: 4/5
Quality of Characters: 4/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 3.5/5
How Long It Took Me to Finish: 3 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
When found by a detective on a resort in Mexico, Jule’s (possible spy/possible super hero/possible murderer) story unfolds in reverse chronological order and her many secrets are revealed.
My Favorite Quotes
“To be a physically powerful woman–it was something. You could go anywhere, do anything, if you were difficult to hurt.”
“‘Shut up, little girl, you’ve said enough.’ ‘Stop, little girl, don’t hit, use your words’–and shut up at the same time. They squash you. They want you to be small and silent. Good was just another word for don’t fight back.”
“‘The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.’ –Charles Do Bos”
What I Loved About It
If you read my review of Lockhart’s other mystery/suspense/thriller We Were Liars, you’d know I was really really impressed by Lockhart’s prose and her GIGANTIC twists in that novel. Because of that, I was really really looking forward to reading Lockhart’s newest novel. I was ready for another twist, and I must say this book definitely delivered. The twist in this one is crazy and, while not completely unexpected, definitely blew me away.
Lockhart’s prose in this novel isn’t quite as impressive as that in We Were Liars, but it’s still really good and she has a really really unique talent in creating a protagonist who is, for all intents and purposes, (SPOILER ALERT) an evil, identity-less murderer and yet who the audience really sympathizes with.
The fact that the story is told in reverse chronological order is another testament to E. Lockhart’s literary genius and really makes the story a lot more suspenseful and intriguing. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to write a novel like that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: E. Lockhart. Is. The. Bomb.
I really did enjoy reading this book. However, I found myself being fairly confused when the book ended (which, to be fair, was probably Lockhart’s intent). The book ends rather abruptly and left me questioning A LOT of what happened throughout the book. To be fair, I could definitely see the structure and narrative of this novel being too confusing for many of my lower level readers and just complex enough for my more advanced readers.
What My Students Could Learn From It
The unique structure of the book would be great for teaching text structure and how a text’s structure affects the narrative itself. It’d also be a great book for teaching about the unreliability of narrators. Jule, the protagonist (IF THAT’S EVEN HER REAL NAME), is, after all, not the most trustworthy source for information and even by the end of the book, many of the mysterious details of her life and character are still not revealed or clarified.
The book also has a lot to say about gender roles and expectations , as well as identity, and could foster a really interesting conversation amongst students about those things.
And of course the violent, murder-y bits of the story would provide plenty of intrigue for the kids. They eat that stuff up.