It took me a second visit to consider buying Luckiest Girl Alive from Fullybooked after bringing All the Light We Cannot See home the day before that. It was just there sitting on a table’s corner with a cover that’s a bit comical to be taken seriously.
But hey! You don’t judge a book by its cover, do you?
Besides, Megan Abbott’s comparison of Knoll’s verve to Gillian Flynn’s beamed at me on the front cover, luring me into believing that Knoll might usurp Flynn’s mighty place at the top.
Turns out, Knoll’s brainchild isn’t Gone Girl grade as what most people are claiming it to be. Yes, it isn’t Gone Girl, but I can’t blame others for thinking otherwise.
However, Luckiest Girl Alive has its own intensity that’s going to shake readers and leave a bad taste in the mouth. Don’t even think about reading the book by the beach, because it’s as much heavy and terrifying as watching Jack Nicholson stick his head out of the broken door in The Shining. Deadly. Gritty. Heart-pounding.
TifAni FaNelli, or Ani as she goes by now, lives an enviable New Yorker life. Working at a celebrated women’s magazine is one. Planning a Nantucket wedding with her blue-blooded, rich-banker fiancé is another.
Her four-carat engagement ring gives her a sense of assurance, but to finally exchange vows with Luke Harrison would finally seal the deal.
Almost every girl would kill to live her life of excess, from wearing a Stella McCartney for Adidas yoga pants to donning an ill-looking Rag & Bone booties worth $495. The uglier the trendier, she believes.
Getting married to Luke, who hails from New England, would complete her metamorphosis. She believes she’ll be untouchable, indestructible, and can pretty much achieve a stellar status that can entirely erase her past.
Her past, something Ani buried so meticulously beneath her new persona. Until TV producers come knocking, asking her to recount what had really happened back at the prestigious Bradley School, where the smell of children from old money and gore wafted in the air, as well as the dark secrets of her life culminated.
The documentary, which is slated to broadcast after Ani’s wedding, will be made as a commemoration of the horrible events that happened at Ani’s high school alma mater. The very tragedy Ani was so deeply involved and ashamed to revisit.
It’s just sad that this book is constantly likened to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, even though I cannot see which part of it comes as a complete knockoff.
If you have read Flynn’s books, the difference between Knoll’s prose and Flynn’s is stark. It’s given that Knoll is capable of smart, razor-sharp writing, but to say that she’s the next Gillian Flynn is preposterous. Nonetheless, both books have a touch of the macabre and showcase vicious female leads that are hard to like.
Knoll’s Ani is fake, shallow, and sarcastic, with a penchant for pushing the envelope just to invent the life women of her age would kill for. She’s a nasty piece of work that’s revealed from the book’s opening, whereas Amy from Gone Girl shows a lively, adorable character from the moment we meet her. But one thing is for sure: they’ll morph later into something you will never expect.
I honestly don’t like the present Ani; not a bit of her present life is likeable anyway. But I was rooting for TifAni- the person Ani wants to forget years ago. The 14 year-old girl who wanted to fit in, but ridiculed and mistreated in doing so. Knoll crafted a character that’s complex in her own way, making me want to find out more of what has happened chapter after chapter of her flashbacks.
I couldn’t care less about present Ani’s narrative. Her character made the book painstakingly slow and cartoonish. I did thought of not wanting to finish the book if all I had to deal with were her love for designer brands and her constant belittling of the people around her.
But I remained patient, and it paid off somewhere in the middle of the book.
No one could have prepared me for the big reveal in Chapter **. It was so shocking and completely a must read sequence that unraveled the many horrors of TifAni’s life. I get goose bumps whenever I think about it until now. The chapter almost instantly leveled the novel with Gone Girl because of its thrilling momentum.
Truthfully speaking, I read that chapter twice just to savor the horror unfolding through the author’s intense writing. Having read the terrifying sequence in the book, I lost my appetite for food. My body turned Jell-o, my hands numb and shaking.
“I thought wealth was shiny red BMWs (leased) and five-bedroom McMansions (mortgaged three times). Not that we were even fake rich enough to live in the five-bedroom travesties.”
Title: Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Published: 2015, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Crime