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  • Mandy McHugh

Good Girls Lie: JT Ellison, A Review

I'm a big JT Ellison fan. I'd place her among the power house women thriller writers. Kepnes, Kubica, Ellison. I always look forward to her releases, and Good Girls Lie might just be the best one yet.

One of the things I like about Ellison is her approach to narrative. Alternating from third to first let's you get a deeper knowledge of the characters while controlling the pacing and the way the information is revealed. For example, we get a third person perspective of the dean because the focus of this story is really on Ash, a sixteen year old sophomore entering the Goode School for the first time. By choosing to write in third, we relate more to the student than the adult, while at the same time elevating the reading from YA to Adult thriller. Think Pretty Little Liars before the story lines became ridiculous. This is tricky with younger narrators, but Ellison's style is effortless and beautiful.

I also love how she starts the narrative with a body. From the first page, I was hooked by the death as it unfolded, knowing we'd get to that point but not knowing who the victim would be.

The Goode School reminded me a little bit of Hogwarts. We're thrust into this world of private school dynamics, rituals and traditions, secret societies and rules. It doesn't hurt that Ash is British and throws some Oxfordian slang around, but I found this setting to be enjoyable.

Ash and Becca, the sophomore-senior rivals are an interesting character combination, and the writing felt most alive when their interactions were at the center. While the supporting characters are pivotal to the conflict, they fell flat in their inclusion, and I wasn't surprised at the way they were handled. And similar to PLL, there is some note of willing suspension of disbelief, but the situation that unravels feels more believable. The girls deal with relevant, real issues that ground it in a necessary way, giving it more teeth and less fluff.

Because of this, the story was fairly predictable--rich girl stereotypes, poor girl stereotypes, even the final twists, I saw coming, so I would've liked a little more subtlety in that sense.

Overall, Good Girls Lie was still a highly entertaining read. JT Ellison proves she's a mainstay in the suspense/thriller domain, and I'd recommend to anyone looking for a deliciously scandalous boarding school title.

 

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