Published: June 2016
How long it took me to read: 3 days
The Girls was the first novel written by Emma Cline and follows a young girl as she willingly becomes part of a cult which sounds extremely similar to the Manson family. The protagonist, Evie, comes across as a very lonely girl, who in the heat of the summer holidays comes across Suzanne. Evie becomes intoxicated with Suzanne, wanting desperately part of her life. Suzanne is part of the cult that Evie is led into as she willing follows Suzanne everywhere.
This Book took me by surprise too say the least. I was recommended by a tutor and it sounded right up my alley, dark and twisted tales always interest me. When I read the blurb it sounded a very vanilla tale. However, I wholehearted trusted that because this book had been so highly recommended to me, I would read it. And I am so happy I did. This book has definitely made it into my top favourite reads of all time. I have recommended this book too so many of my friends already and it hasn't even been on the market a year.
What shocked about this book was how quickly it moved. On the blurb, there is no mention of a cult or anything of the sort and you still aren't sure what is actually happening with these young girls until much later on in the book. However, this novel has a way of making you feel on edge at all times, no sentence within the whole 355 pages makes you feel reassured or calm at all. There is an overwhelming sense of something isn't right here.
What was also so thrilling about this book was the fact that this actually could and probably has happened. Young girls, who have nothing else to lose and have no one else to care for them, could get taken under the control by a cult leader. The leader within this book is called Russell and is described just as being an ordinary man, although the girls looked too him like he was a God. The girls think that he is leading a revolution, that he is going to make a lot of money and keep them safe. They followed every one of his beliefs and did exactly what they were told, too the point where it gets them in serious trouble.
Another thing that was so compelling about this story was the protagonist. Evie is an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life. She wakes up, goes to school, sees her only friend, then goes home, repeat. However, when she meets Suzanne it unlocks something more than just friendship. What I found hard to distinguish when reading this novel was rather Evie was attracted to Suzanne or just she needed someone. She was only fourteen years old and at this age, she had never really experienced any relationships with boys, apart from once. So it could be possible that at that tender age, she could know she was into women. But as I read further and further into the book, it became less and less important to me and the story whether she was attracted to Suzanne or just felt lonely. No matter what her feelings were, Evie would do anything for Suzanne.
Although there are some heartwarming bits of this story, this book is not for the faint-hearted. There are some really gruesome and just vile twists too this story, which I won't spoil. But obviously being young, vulnerable girls, this book isn't always going to centre on the happiest themes. I went through waves of emotions. I felt sorry for these girls, their lives consisted of nothing but pain and they let it happen to them because they had nowhere else to go and no-one else to care for them. They were manipulated from a young age.
The ending of the book had me shocked. The reader enters the book through the eyes of an old Evie telling the story, so it is pretty clear from the very start that she and Suzanne were no longer together and something had happened along the way. But the actual conclusion of the book was shocking. It left wanting to know more and left a hole in my heart as the characters I had grown to love did not get the ending they deserved.
The only negative I do have to say about this book is the cover art. Again, I know the saying, don't judge a book by its cover but the front cover just doesn't appeal to me as much as the story inside it did. If I wasn't recommended this amazing book, I wouldn't have picked it up in store. But I am so happy I got to experience this story and I will continue to recommend it to everyone I know to help spread the word of this heart-wrenching tale.
If you fancy buying a copy, use the link at the top of the page titled 'my favourites'.
Until next time, keep on reading oxox