Title: The Girl Before
Author: J.P. Delaney
Genre: Psychological thriller, mystery
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
EmmaReeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
JaneAfter a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
I really enjoy psychological thrillers, especially when they're told from the point of view of a not-necessarily-reliable narrator. This book is told from the perspective of two women with eerily similar lives. They both are tenants in a futuristic, austere flat belonging to an eccentric (or insane, depending on who you ask) architect, and rumors abound about some unsavory events that happened on the premises.
I thought the idea of the futuristic house was really cool. The engineer in me was geeking out about how much technology can impact our daily lives and improve everything from our mood to our health. At the same time, I also wondered why someone would automate every single aspect of a house without any manual overrides, because one of the biggest reasons the Internet of Things isn't widespread already is that it's easy to hack. At least that doubt was addressed eventually.
I thought the parallels among both Emma and Jane's lives were drawn well, and I liked how you got to know each of them a lot better as the novel progressed. Neither of them are who they seem to be at first, and they both have a lot of secrets and trauma to deal with. Emma in particular is almost self-destructive, which makes watching her trainwreck of a life that much more horrifyingly fascinating. What I didn't like was how both women ignored all warning signs of an abusive relationship/gaslighting; it's not like they were stupid or oblivious, they both chose to ignore the signs and continue their relationships. There were a lot of questionable situations that were just too reminiscent of the whole it's-okay-if-I-have-a-creepy-stalker-as-long-as-he's-hot rape culture thing that plagued YA fiction after Twilight.
The funny thing about this book is that it's so transparent at first that you think you know exactly how it's going to go. But as the book continues and you uncover more clues, it becomes obvious that your initial assessment of every character was wrong. This isn't the most shocking book, even the "twists" weren't that unexpected, but I did like how it played with the reader's expectations.
Overall a pretty good psychological thriller. There were some issues I had with it, but overall I did enjoy it.
A free e-ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review