Author: Emma Cline
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 14th June 2016
Genre: Adult / Literary Fiction / Contemporary
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
My Review (Contains Spoilers)
Unpopular opinion coming up in 3, 2, 1…
I really didn’t like this book. Like, at all. I can appreciate that this a debut novel from Emma Cline and some people will definitely like it, I just didn’t.
Ok, where to begin? This was so over-hyped that for me, it didn’t live up to any of the praise I had seen. The book is loosely based on the Manson family and as I may have mentioned before, I like reading about cults and murder (I know, weirdo alert but I promise I’m kinda normal). If that was also appealing you to this book, don’t bother. The ranch “family” in this are barely even characters, Russell (the Charles Manson inspired character) is in about two scenes total and is barely even touched upon so you’re left wondering why these people are with him at the ranch. The “murders” that you wait until the last 10% of the book for are told from an “I’d imagine this is what happened that night” perspective, so it’s not even real and -SPOILER ALERT- Evie wasn’t even there! The back and forth between present day and the young-Evie doesn’t really add anything at all to the story and the last chapter switches so fast between two it becomes annoying. The whole reason for meeting Sasha and…(I’ve literally forgotten his name because he is so inconsequential) is so Evie can reminisce?! Just have it in the 60’s and put a grown up Evie chapter at the end or something to save us reading more of this than we have to!
I hated Evie; both young and old. Which is a shame because she is the main character and narrator so there’s no getting away from her. She is just a bored rich kid who needs a good slap. The supporting characters in this are so flat, you honestly couldn’t care less about them. Suzanne is kind of interesting but that’s about it.
I feel like this story relies quite a bit on you knowing about the Manson cult and murders or else you’d be wondering why the hell there is a murder spree at the end. The characters and story are not developed enough to just take you there without you drawing the parallels for yourself which I felt was really shitty of a book that is inspired rather than a “take” on what happened.
The prose was so overwritten it felt like a pretentious contemporary wannabe and I think I was audibly saying “ugh” so many times whilst reading this. To add to that, it took me over a month to finish this and a few times I considered DNFing it, but no, I soldiered on and was pretty relieved when I finished it to be honest.
This one wasn’t for me (can you tell?) but I’ve read a lot of glowing reviews for it so I guess it’s going to be one that has people divided.
Have you read it yet? What did you think?
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Sorry that I didn’t like it but thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing the copy.