The Girl Before by JP Delaney | Book Review

Renting isn't cheap these days and it's even worse when you don't want to compromise on location. What if you didn't have to? What if you just had to fill out a lengthy application form and agree to live by a very specific set of rules?

The Girl Before has left me uncertain. I'm going to try and explain that, but having pondered it for some time I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about it.

The books is split into short chapters from one of two points of view, Emma, the previous tenant and Jane, the new tenant. This works well although took me slightly longer to get used to, not because of the characters or the story line, but because of the writing itself.

Something I noticed fairly quickly was that there are whole sections of this book where speech is basically ignored. It'll appear as you would expect it to in the writing but there are no speech marks to highlight it. At the time of reading it was horrendously annoying, having just flicked through a few pages while writing this I have noticed that all the speech marks are used in Jane's chapters and not in Emma's. I can only assume that it's meant to reflect the two different characters and their personalities, but frustrating is the only way to describe it. I constantly noticed it as I read but made no link to any reason for it until this very minute. If it is a device, I can't say it was very successful, honestly it felt more like a massive error had been made in editing.

That aside, the author has created some very engaging characters. You pick up enough about them as you progress through the book to pick up things of the upcoming story and that always entices you to read on. The book also has a lot of unsettling male characters in it. The women in comparison seem relatively normal. This could be another way to get you on board with the two leads of the book and make you protective of them. But again, that's not something I noticed until after I'd finished the book.

What is there to say about that ending? Unexpected? Overkill?

I enjoy a twist and turn as much as the next person but this book throws them at you. Kudos to the author again for crafting the story well, I did not guess all the twists that it ended up taking. Some were necessary but others seemed to just be there to have a conclusion to every piece of the story. An effort which didn't entirely feel pleasing.

It was an entertaining read, and at just over 400 pages it's easy to whizz through in a day. There's a preview at the end for Believe Me. Reading it just now I'm drawing parallels between how chapters are designed to match their character, I don't think it's for me as a style but the story itself is mildly intriguing. Hopefully it showcases some more well developed characters.


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