Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Rating: 3 STARS
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling YA murder mystery set in Kenya.
In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.
With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.
“If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.”
Okay, this first paragraph might seem like I’m talking gibberish, but can I just say, this was nothing like Gone Girl. When you have the words “Gone Girl” on the cover, I expect a psychological thriller. But this was more of a murder mystery than a thriller. Sure, the book jacket also mentioned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I haven’t read yet, so I have no idea if that was an accurate comparison or a name drop as well), but it greatly annoys me that a domestic/psychological thriller that’s not even within the YA category was in anyway compared to this book. There was literally nothing in common. Nothing! This is more of a forewarning to fans of Gone Girl. And to publishers who keep incorrectly dropping names so people will read their work.
But on to the actual book. We get to meet Tina, whose mother died a while ago under Greyhill’s hands, wants to help her sister, and is involved with a dangerous gang that wants to assist her in taking Greyhill down and exposing him for maybe murdering her mom. I thought she was an awesome character, mainly because she’s a thief, and I love heists and robbers and cheering for anti-heroes, as I’m sure you guys might know, so Tina was, of course, my type of girl. We also get to meet Boyboy, a hacker and Tina’s best friend who reminded me so much like Job from one of my favorite TV shows, Banshee (which you should totally watch if you like action and cute badasses as main characters, but that’s not the point of this review), and Michael, the classic love interest that I didn’t care too much about because blah blah blah, he’s loved her since they were little, blah blah blah, I’ve heard this story at least ten billion times before, blah blah blah, this romance is literally not necessary; I came here to see Tina AVENGE HER MOTHER’S DEATH DAMN IT. But, of course, it’s all personal opinion.
I thought the pacing of this book and the plot tied together. There were some parts of this book that were totally banging and made me read faster and faster…and then there were some parts of the book that just fell flat and made me bored and were sort of slump-inducing. The pacing was a bit all over the place, and I guess that’s because the story would sometimes reveal new information and action sequences and cliffhangers, which was super exciting, but then we have those moments where we’re sitting around and getting a little bit of exposition or attempting to move the plot forward in the form of story-telling, which, unfortunately, failed keep me entertained. But, fear not those who love plot twists in their thrillers, there are many abound in this novel!
Despite my issues with the pacing, I actually really enjoyed the ending. I found the “big battle” really tense and exciting, and the big finish was totally worth it. I also thought that the ending was personally convincing concerning Kiki and the romance between Tina and Daniel. And for those who are worried about the romance over-powering the action and Tina’s mission, it doesn’t, which I found to be a definite positive, besides the fact that I considered it to be realistic and well-developed. I still didn’t think it was necessary, but I feel like at this point, I’ve got to start accepting it.
Overall, I thought it was an okay murder mystery with pacing that felt like it was all over the place, but this book will definitely work depending on the person and their preferences.
Have you read this book yet? And if this becomes a movie, would you watch it (I saw that it was optioned for film, which has now convinced me that EVERY BOOK is going to be turned into a movie, my God)?