Angela's Reviews > All the Missing Girls

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, mystery, clever, dark

Given the glut of dark, mysterious, twisty books with "Girl"/"Girls" in the title, I had modest expectations for this book. Having spent 10 years clawing her way out of & away from the depressing, dysfunctional Appalachian backwater where she grew up, 28 year old Nicolette Farrell is called back to her hometown to help her older brother deal with her alcoholic, senile father's deteriorating health and financial situation. The town is haunted for her by the mysterious disappearance of her best friend Corinne not long before Nic's own departure, and she's barely arrived before her younger neighbor--whom her high school ex is now dating--also mysteriously disappears.

The twist with this book is that most of the story is told in reverse one day at a time, from day 15 back to day 1 when Nic first arrives. You get the beginning frame (the message from her brother to come home, some basic set up about her life, the trip back to her home town), then flash forward to two weeks later, where the story starts going backwards. After day 1, it flashes forward again to wrap things up.

I was skeptical at first, but I have to say that once you get your mind around it, the author pulled off the backwards storytelling brilliantly. I can imagine a thousand pitfalls to this technique, not the least of which is how do you create a narrative arc in a mystery when you start with the characters knowing the most and work your way backwards to where they know almost nothing? It seems entirely at odds with how a mystery works structurally but somehow Miranda pulls it off without getting gimicky or giving too much away. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I flipped back to the beginning; now knowing how it ended and everything that had been going on, I was curious to see how it might read differently. If anything, the second read came across as more brilliant, because I noticed all kinds of Easter eggs and tiny details about the storytelling that I'd missed the first time.

I would not call this a light read, as it's pretty dark and the going-backwards structure means you have to pay close attention at all times so that you can keep track of what already happened and what hasn't, but it was completely engrossing, and reading it twice in one week was pretty much effortless. So maybe reach for this one the next time you want something smart, dark, beautifully written, and riveting, and have the bandwidth to give it 100% of your attention.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 14, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 18, 2016 – Shelved
July 18, 2016 – Shelved as: fiction
July 18, 2016 – Shelved as: mystery
July 18, 2016 – Shelved as: clever
July 18, 2016 – Shelved as: dark

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