‘Those Girls’ by Chevy Stevens

Those GirlsstarstarThis intense thriller was a big disappointment to me, even though I did finish it. I had heard about it on CBC radio’s The Next Chapter feature entitled “If you liked that, then you’ll love this.” A guest on the show is invited to suggest a Canadian equivalent to a well known bestseller. In this case it was comedian Candy Palmater recommending Those Girls as just as good if not better than Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl.

In Those Girls, three sisters are born into a terrible situation. They manage to extricate themselves from their horrible home and abusive father, but find themselves on the run. From here things go from bad to worse. Their adventures take a brutal turn and then suddenly the book jumps ahead 18 years. Now an 18 year old daughter of one of the sisters is narrating, and the story becomes brutal once again. The scenes are not graphic, but they are awful. The characters are annoyingly stereotypical and flat: the men are almost all violent abusers and the women almost always make stupid decisions.

The only thing the novel had, was plenty of suspense, but it was not the ‘twist and turn’ type of suspense that I enjoy which was the hallmark of Gone Girl. It was the ‘who is going to win in this violent scene’ type of suspense. I noticed that reviews of this author in general are quite mixed–either really good or really bad. The ones who love her books say “best thriller ever” and the rest say things like “hollow characters who behave in ways that make no freaking sense, plot development that is not even remotely believable, and disastrously bad writing.” I must admit I am in the latter camp. What thrillers have you enjoyed?

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