Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

When I ordered Luckiest Girl Alive from the library, I was number five zillion on the waiting list (literally) and then it was finally my turn, but I was out of town and I had forgotten to freeze my request, so I had to start all over at number five zillion again.  sigh…

Finally last week it was my turn.  I don’t remember why I was so anxious to read it.  This happens to me a lot.  I hear about a book somewhere from someone and put it on my to read list and by the time I get to it I have no clue why I wanted to read it in the first place.  All of this is to say that I had expectations of something good, but no other clear expectations at all.  I didn’t even know what genre it was.

After only a few pages in, I worried that I had picked up a book of the chick lit persuasion.  The main character, Ani, is obsessed with keeping up appearances.  Having the right clothes, the right accessories, and the right man are not just important to her, they are the only important things.  And let’s be clear that the right man is not her soul mate.  The right man is the one with the look and money and lifestyle that will make other women jealous.  So, right off the bat I dislike her terribly, but I’m supposed to, right?

I don’t mind an unlikable character, but I need them to be more than just unlikable.  I need them to be wickedly duplicitous or painfully unaware of how unlikable they are.  I need there to be something really interesting about them. With Ani there is more, but for me it was not enough.  As her story unfolds we learn that she has been a victim of heinous crimes and that she wears her carefully constructed image like a shield.  The end result is that I feel vaguely bad about disliking her so much, but it doesn’t change the fact that I dislike her.  She gains some awareness over the course of the book, but she doesn’t grow in ways that make her any more likable.

The story is well crafted, but it falls short of being really good.  It starts dark and gets darker with a turn of events that I did not see coming.  I appreciated that the story had the ability to surprise me while still holding together and I am a fan of disturbing things.  Luckiest Girl Alive would have been right up my alley if I cared more about any of the characters, but I just didn’t connect with Ani or anyone else and in the end it felt flat.

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