ARC: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Thank you to NetGalley and MIRA Books for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Good Girls Lie debuted December 30th.

Good Girls Lie from start to finish felt like a book in conflict with itself. It’s not being marketed as YA, but many of the main characters are teenagers–though their dialogue speaks otherwise. The book is set at a boarding school, so there are the requisite secret societies, girl-on-girl drama, school murder, et cetera… but somehow it feels throughout the book like nothing is happening. And then the adult main characters (remember, this is supposed to be for an adult audience) fall seriously flat; I cared about a grand total of none of them, even as the author is dragging them through romantic twists and important life decisions.

The dialogue was the real death of me in this book. Much of it was entirely out of character, and nothing sounded like it would come from a teen’s mouth–way too staid and old-fashioned. Here are a couple examples:

  • “Are you well, Camille?”
  • “I’ll bid you goodnight.”
  • “Then your insult was not only ill-advised but inaccurate and illogical.”

It felt like the author had never spoken to a teenager in her life. To make matters more difficult, there weren’t many dialogue tags included, so it often became difficult to follow conversations. I’m a fan of keeping dialogue tags on the sparser side myself, but I still recognize that you need to include enough of them so that readers have a sense of who’s talking.

Basically it felt like there was too much crammed into the book, and yet nothing was going on, and even worse, the characters were not nearly fun enough to hold up a book with little plot. I just think that there are so many other books that tackle similar subject matter in a more satisfying fashion. School murder, with people playing the blame game? One of Us Is Lying. Boarding school drama? Maureen Johnson. Young-feeling thriller with a twist at the end? Lock Every Door. Unfortunately I did not get on well with this book, and the writing style makes me wary of picking up another book by this author.

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