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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

Girl One, Sara Flannery Murphy: A Review

Orphan Black is one of my all-time favorite shows, so as soon as I read the summary and comp titles, I knew I had to request this book and was thrilled to be approved.

Josephine Morrow is Girl One, the first of a set of nine miracle babies born through a complicated genetic process that removes male DNA from conception. Her entire identity is wrapped up in this experiment, and she's determined to make it her life's work, until she learns that her mother has gone missing. Returning home proves to be more challenging than she anticipated, however, and what follows is a journey to not only find her mother, but the truth about herself and the other Homestead girls. I really liked this book. To start, Josephine is a wonderful protagonist. I enjoyed seeing her progression as she ventures further into her past, putting pieces together in a way that encourages her to reflect internally. These were my favorite moments, and while I won't give spoilers, I will say that her conflict really drives the course of the plot. And speaking of plot: there is *a lot* going on here in the best possible way. Multiple backgrounds and settings, overlapping conflicts that span decades, ulterior motivations and a never-ending supply of questions. On top of that, you get some pretty smart commentary on boiler plate social topics like conception, autonomy, science versus religion, sexuality and gender roles, and I especially appreciated the focus on family. What defines a family? Are the relationships we forge on our own inferior to the ones we're obligated to have by blood? Or are they more meaningful because we choose to nurture them? So many times you see toxic family dynamics continue because of an implied sense of loyalty based on genetics, but we see Josephine navigating some pretty tricky situations to make up her own mind, and I loved that. I had some issues with the way the investigative plot unfolds, and I thought some motivations could've been simplified to make it work cleaner. Some of the twists felt predictable, but others were structured and executed nicely, so I think many readers will be engrossed in the mystery. Overall, Girl One is a smart, energetic thriller with supernatural twists and a fresh take on the dangers of ambition. I'd recommend to fans of Orphan Black, Firestarter, Black Mirror, or anyone who's looking for an insightful thriller-sci-fi blend with heart. Huge thanks to Farrar, Straus, and Giroux and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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