Tuesday, June 21, 2016

All the Missing Girls

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Simon & Schuster: 6/28/16
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501107962

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is a highly recommended novel of suspense told in reverse.

Nicolette "Nic" Farrell, 28, has to return to her hometown of Cooley Ridge, North Carolina. Nic left right after graduation and has stayed away, other than short visits to see her father. Now Daniel, Nic's brother, has called to tell her they are going to have to sell their family home and he needs her help getting it ready as well as trying to persuade their father to sign the papers.  Their father, Patrick, has been in a long term care facility due to his dementia. Daniel's wife, Laura, is 8 months pregnant, so he would like to get things settled as soon as possible.

Nic leaves her fiance, Everett, in Philadelphia and heads to Cooley Ridge. While Nic was planning to leave for college anyway 10 years ago, what really sent her packing was the mysterious disappearance of her best friend, Corrine. She and her friends were questioned by the police at the time, including Tucker, Nic's high school boyfriend, and her brother. Now Patrick is starting to mutter to people at the facility that he saw the girl - which everyone thinks must mean Corrine.

"Corinne was larger than life here. Had become even larger because she disappeared. But she was just a kid, eighteen, and bursting out of her skin. Believing the world would bend to her will. Must’ve torn her up something good the first time she realized it wouldn’t." Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, 24, a neighbor of the Farrells. She was peripherally involved in the investigation of Corrine's disappearance. Then she disappears and people are searching for her.

The hook in the case of All the Missing Girls is telling the story in a reverse chronology. We get a current day set up of the story so we know why Nic's leaving and have the bare minimum of background. Then the story jumps to 15 days in the future and counts down to day one, after which we get to go back to real time and figure out who done what. It does make the reading compulsory so you do read as fast as you can to try to figure out what the heck happened. Miranda manages to do this and not give away the big reveals until the end, which is laudable.

Lots of people loved All the Missing Girls. While I really liked it and thought the reverse story telling was an interesting concept, it didn't manage to hide some of the flaws for me. The characters aren't as well developed as I would expect and there are places where the plot isn't quite as tight as I would like. The big question is how much can you overlook for a unique plot device? I discovered I could overlook quite a bit because Miranda managed to surprise me with some major information being disclosed later in the novel, while earlier chapter are more reactionary based on that information that we don't have yet. In the end, a worthy debut novel into the adult market. (However, I would like to note that these are missing women, not girls.)

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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