Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl looked like a psychological thriller that would appeal to me, given the atmospheric cover and the premise, but I was initially a bit disappointed. I was a little underwhelmed with the set-up, it seemed a little obvious as to what was happening, and if you read the synopsis it seems clear, at least initially, who the antagonist will be. So I considered DNF'ing and ultimately went with skim reading sections of it, but then at about forty percent of the way through something happened and I was hooked. From that point on the story definitely had my attention! 

Carys is a woman with a secret, something from her past that she's ashamed of, and when she is invited to an adventure weekend type of birthday party, it looks like her secret (and maybe those of her friends as well) may get spilled. Her, Andrea and Zoe have been invited by their prickly friend Joanne to spend a weekend at a remote location, sans cell phones naturally, and while initially they feel like maybe Joanne is going to use the opportunity to clear up some lingering issues, it soon becomes apparent the opposite is in fact true. Old resentments lingering under the surface come out, and things start to get tense when Joanne does questionable things, but nothing can prepare them for what actually happens. 

Like I said I was initially underwhelmed, the set-up seemed way too obvious, and I was like would people really be this dumb, to give up their phones and go along with this? But beneath the rather implausible beginning is a smart tale of what happens when friendships go wrong- and don't we all have friendships that have problems? Misunderstandings and resentments are of course one thing, but here there is something that happened that the parties involved have very different takes on, and once the first twist happens I thought we were veering into unreliable narrator territory. Seriously everyone is suspect at some point in this story, and while a twist at the end seemed a little too obvious, the twist after that was a shocker. And the story ends on a pretty dark note. 

So I'm glad I stuck with this book. Yeah I skimmed a few passages but partly that was because I couldn't wait to get to the next twist, or to see what happened after this or that occurrence. There was even a surprise POV added into the mix that further muddied the waters. All in all this was a twisty thriller that overcame a slow start and provided a satisfying end.  

29 comments:

  1. Wow, sounds like this one really redeemed itself after quite a rocky start. I typically run screaming from books with an unreliable narrator, but I do love some great plot twists. I might check my library for this one next time I'm in the mood for something suspenseful. Great review, Greg!

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    1. It's not a bad read, you just have to get past the slow start/ unrealistic set up?

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  2. It does seem a little implausible that people would give up their cell phones for a weekend, but I'm intrigued by this story because of your review. I feel like I need to know what these twists are!

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    1. I thought so. I wouldn't give UP my phone! lol

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  3. isn't it great when you get rewarded for sticking with a book! Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Yes! I'm glad I stuck it out too...

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  4. Sometimes sticking in there does payoff. This is what makes me so bad at DNFing :) Glad it worked out for you.

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    1. It was worth it, I'm glad I stuck with it. I just had trouble in the beginning.

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  5. Ugh! This is why I have such a hard time putting books down. You never know when a boring book will turn out awesome!!

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    1. That's true. And I came SO close to DNF'ing this. I'm glad I didn't...

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  6. I tend to stick with slow books too just because I hope they will get better. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It's a good thing this one did. Maybe that slow obvious beginning was to make you complacent so that the shocker would come at you hard when it did!

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    1. Yeah maybe so! I did struggle initially but this is one I'm definitely glad I stuck with!

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  7. And this is why I don't like to DNF. It can take me a while before I find the hook.

    I'm more of a skim reader, just in case lol

    I'm glad this one turned out to be a winner for you.

    For What It's Worth

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    1. Yup, so true in this case. I'm glad I stuck with it, but you know I did a fair amount of skimming too. :)

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  8. But slow starts are just so slooooow

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  9. I'm an ending girl so this one might work for me despite the slow beginning. Hm... might have to check this one out.

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  10. Well, it is good that it got better- I'd rather a slow start and an awesome ending any day. Of course, this is also why I force myself to read every damn book, because what if it is awesome after all? Joanne sounds like a real piece of work. I feel like they should have blown her off and gone to a spa or something. (Though that book would be really boring hah.) I do like that it explored friendships that turned out badly, because yeah, who hasn't had that happen? And there really aren't enough friendship based books out there, tbh. Also, I still really want her coat.

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  11. I try to get to 50% before DNFing. I've had a couple books that I ended up enjoying because of a twist or the steam finally picked up. But it is hard to get through a slow beginning. It's good to hear you ended up enjoying this.

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  12. See, this is one of the many reasons I find it so hard to DNF. What if the book gets better?! It happens sometimes! I'm intrigued as to what it is that these people have such different takes on and what all these twists are!

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    1. You have a point. I almost DNF'd (came SO close) but yeah- it worked out. And there was a killer twist, along with the fact that there were so many interprtations of what happened!

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  13. I feel like this is a really unusual way for thrillers to go. Typically they're great fro me until about halfway through and then go downhill, rather than the other way around. I'm tempted to pick this up to see how the author pulled it off!

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  14. Sorry the beginning was difficult to get through, but I'm glad you stuck with it. It sounds like it was worth it. Oh and hey, we all skim sometimes when a book goes that way. Been there! :P

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  15. Heh, it's the best when books just hit their stride and everything clicks and they're fantastic as a result! The set-up does remind me of In a Dark Dark Wood too though.

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  16. This definitely sounds a lot like In a Dark Dark Wood though in execution maybe more like The Lying Game (not a winner for me). I'm glad in the end it ended up being worth the read. So often all the secret building can end up being a bit flat.

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  17. That's awesome that you stuck through! I have so much trouble with that. If I'm really not enjoying something, I tend to give it about 100 pages and then I'm done.

    I don't know how I feel about plots like this, dependent on cell phones being out of the picture. I almost feel it's a little lazy? Like who actually would go somewhere without their cell phone in this day and age? It feels like a cop out, and an easy way to get around writing a more complex but realistic plot. Hopefully that makes sense hahaha.

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  18. I am glad this turned out to be better than you first suspected.

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  19. Sounds like a rough start, and I hate slowness!! But I'm glad it kinda redeemed itself in the end.
    The cover is so atmospheric, though! I am so in love with the cover.

    Great review, Greg :)

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  20. Hi Greg,
    Thank your for this great book review. I love The Birthday Girl
    by Sue Fortin. The book it's amazing. Everyone should read it ! After i found your review i start searching for the book and finally found it on http://justreadbook.com . ( i don’t know if i can leave this link here but i think it will help others). I apologize if i’ve done something wrong. Have mercy! 😀 If it wasn’t your book review …oh dear 😀 Thank you again for your work. You should keep making more book reviews because i like your style of writing ❤

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