I am not lost…

May 13, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: THE PERFECT STRANGER by Megan Miranda

Hey, surprise! A review on a Saturday! This was slated for Wednesday’s post, but when Laura asked me to help with the book cover reveal, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. And for once, my month is pretty packed with books, so I needed to get this out before next Wednesday! Besides, I’m excited to write this one.

Because it’s one that’s going to need a little explaining.

I was provided a copy of this book free of charge by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I read an ARC of Miranda’s first adult novel, ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, a while back now and enjoyed it, even though it left my head a little tilted and my brain a little fuzzy. (I’ve linked to my review above.) So when I got the notification that she’d come out with a new book, I jumped at the chance to see this ARC as well. She’s proven to be an author not afraid of taking chances, and being willing to play with the rules of the writing game. I like that.

The trouble is, when you walk in knowing that, it’s very difficult to surprise your readers.

Leah Stevens is running away from her former life, and finds a partner in an old friend from the days after college, Emmy Grey. They leave Boston and find a new home in western Pennsylvania (amusing, since my family comes from there!) and it isn’t until Emmy goes missing that Leah begins to see all the strings that have come together.

But all of this becomes telegraphed, because we’re looking for it. Any character who might be out of place. Everyone initial considered suspicious by the characters in the novel are almost assuredly innocent. I had about five ideas of where the plot was going by the time I got halfway through, and some conglomeration of them happened. There was very little surprise, other than the occasional “Ohhhh. Okay, so that’s what you did.” There was never a moment of “OH MY GOD WAIT WHAT?!” that you’d really hope for in a thriller like this, especially from an author like Miranda.

And maybe readers who are new to Miranda, who haven’t read MISSING GIRLS, will get that moment. Maybe this won’t be as obvious to everyone else. But I found it sadly predictable, though nonetheless entertaining.

That’s the important thing to mention. Miranda weaves a fantastic tale, and tells it wonderfully. The characters were real and interesting (though I find the romantic interlude a little abrupt and unnecessary, as much as I like him), the drama never lagged, there was always something new to twist the plot along. Even for me as I saw the moves coming, there was never a point where I just sighed at the book and said “come ON now, can’t we just get to something else interesting?” The pace is perfect.

However, this comes with a downfall: because the characters are so real, it begins to feel like we’ve only gotten a portion of the story to be told. There is so much that just gets tossed out for a single scene, and never brought up again. The final climactic scene wasn’t nearly as tense as I expected it to be, and we’re left with a non-answer of an ending. Not disappointing, just a little unsatisfying.

If I’m truly honest with myself, this is a 3.5* book, but as these things don’t allow for such ratings, I’m willing to bump it up for 4–which seems fair, as that’s the exact same rating I gave the last book of hers I read. And my opinion of Miranda as a writer remains the same.

I’ll be interested to see where she goes in the future with her work.

Rating: ***1/2 (Almost Recommended)
rounded to 4 for Goodreads, et al.

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