Book Review – ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ by April Henry

A solid tween mystery novel.

the-girl-i-used-to-be-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: YA, Mystery

No. of pages: 240

From Goodreads:

When Olivia’s mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. It’s up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Page border by Casey Carlisle

It was a nice break away from my usual genre reads. A YA mystery of a girl uncovering her past and murder of her parents.

I did fall asleep at two points during this novel – and its short- so that had me questioning why. It’s by no means boring or had me wanting to abandon it. I think it might be the frank and dry style of the narrative. Characters aren’t painted colourfully with quirks and foibles. It’s all very realistic, and as such, wasn’t as engaging as it should be.

Ariel/Olivia is a great protagonist. She’s independent and an intelligent thinker. I liked how she took the initiative to sleuth out facts and piece together a story. It felt very organic.

Ariel/Olivia also had a few moments of damsel in distress, like screen sirens of old, toppling over uneven ground and turning an ankle – hasn’t that been done to death by now?

the-girl-i-used-to-be-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleSome problems I had revolve around her amnesia, recovering memories through hypnotism is such over-used tool in this genre I wasn’t at all impressed. ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ also suffers what many in this genre do – how characters are mysteriously compelled to over-share to let the reader garner facts of the case. It’s a bit of a cop out. A clever author will find much more imaginative and fantastic ways to uncover truths.

Duncan, (Ariel/Olivia’s love interest) does not really get developed. He kind of appears, there’s instant attraction… and that’s about it. I feel a missed opportunity to add more to the plot, or in the least an attention grabbing arc would have added a lot to this book.

It wasn’t until very close to the reveal that I pieced together the story, so it is definitely not predictable. We are given many characters as possible suspects, and logical scenarios to show their guilt/innocence. The mystery part of this novel is well done, even if it lacks some sophistication.

I was grabbed in the last quarter as the action and tension heated up, though I’ve read better, so I can’t give it more than an average rating.

April Henry can construct a great landscape and doesn’t let much through to spoil the ending, and while I recommend this book, it’s definitely aimed for a younger crowd. A seasoned reader, especially in a mystery genre, may not get much from ‘The Girl I Used To Be.’

It’s short and easy enough to complete in a day if so inclined. I liked it, a nice break from my usual reads.

Overall feeling: A mystery reader’s first book



Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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