Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Kubica’s Powerful Debut… will encourage comparisons to Gone Girl.” That statement almost made me not buy the book, as I am one of the minority that did NOT care for Gillian Flynn’s novel. But, as it turns out, I’m so glad I ignored the blurb.
The Good Girl is told in alternating first person, between Eve, Gabe, and Colin. It is also told in rotating time periods, ‘before’ Mia’s rescue, ‘after’ her rescue, and a few scenes of during, which took place on Christmas Eve. In a lesser writer’s hands, this approach could have unraveled like a ball of yarn making it near impossible for the reader to keep track of time and narrator. The story didn’t need to be told this way, but I felt it added dimension to the characters and an element of suspense to the story.
Colin, the antagonist, is the most developed character throughout the book, although that doesn’t mean that the rest were lacking in development. I used A Perfect World as a reference in the last review I did, and find it fitting here, also. In that movie, Kevin Costner is the antagonist. He gives the audience every reason to hate him. But… he also reveals his human side. He shows kindness to the child he has abducted. Even though it’s done with threats toward others, we can relate to him and end up rooting for him because of the way he treats that child. Colin is much the same. He kidnaps Mia, he threatens her, he causes her physical and emotional pain, but then something happens. He begins to show her kindness and we begin to warm up to him. Rather than to think he is a criminal who deserves whatever rotten demise the author has thought up for him, we start to believe that he is a victim himself. Maybe a victim of life, bad luck, missed opportunities. The way he feels about his mother and the stories he tells of their life when he was a child also helps us to see him as having a heart.
Gabe, the detective assigned to Mia’s case was a likable guy. Professional and compassionate. Not qualities you often see juxtaposed in a detective.
Eve was, in my opinion, the least developed character in the story. She is worried and fearful for her daughter and her safety. Understandable. She spends much of the time Mia is gone thinking about the past, wishing she had been a better mother. Understandable. But it ends there. She has lived a life under her husband’s thumb, to the extent of allowing his desires and opinions to leech over to the way she raised her daughter. Sad, but believable.
James Dennett, Mia’s father. He is more unlikable than Colin. He is an abrasive, insensitive egomaniac who puts power, money, and public opinion above family (which gives credence to the epilogue.)
The story was not predictable as a whole. The bond between Colin and Mia, even if it was the Stockholm Syndrome, was evident as it was happening. The attraction between Eve and Gabe was not a surprise either. I guessed that James was involved more than the story let on, but I was wrong in his actual involvement. I won’t go into the ending, but the story we follow as we read, is not the behind-the-scenes story. You’ll have to read it for yourself!
This is easily a 5-star read and that becomes more impressive when you learn that this is a debut novel. I understand that Kubica has another novel, Pretty Baby, in the works. I am now an eager fan!