When The Girl Before was the only option for me to listen to on my audiobook I wasn’t quite expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s a story filled with intrigue and mystery that keeps you guessing right up until the last few pages. But the characters just keep it from reaching great heights.
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The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney focuses on two intertwining storylines which focus on essentially a very similar story – how and why Emma was found dead the bottom of the stairs and whether her boyfriend and architect/owner of this incredible house is to blame or not.
The Girl Before plot – 4/5
The Girl Before focuses on Emma and Jane. Emma’s story is set prior to current day events – it tells the story of how she ends up getting into a relationship with the owner and architect of the home. At the same time, we read “current day” events where Jane has the exact same thing happen to her.
Emma was found dead at the bottom of the building’s stairs and as Jane begins to delve deeper into why, she suspects that it may well have been Edward all along. And with the help of Simon, Emma’s ex-boyfriend, they do as much digging as they can to find out the real truth.
The novel had me gripped until the very end. It does a very good job of engaging you into boy storylines and making you want to find out what really happened on that fateful night. It’s interesting to see both storylines develop and rise to their finales as we discover the truth before Jane has worked it all out which then leads to a few tense chapters too (I don’t think that’s a spoiler is it?)
I will say that I noticed a few plotholes that took me out of the story a bit. Also there’s such an emphasis on one scenario happening and so much evidence to support it that it makes you question it the whole way through rather as you don’t want to think you’re falling for a red herring.
I must say though, I did very much enjoy the idea that these women moved into this incredible house by this architect at a reduced rate because he has very strict rules for the house. They soon work out that this is because it is more of a social experiment to determine how to optimise living for people. It’s a really cool idea and a really cool addition to the storyline.
The Girl Before characters – 3/5
The Girl Before’s characters are an interesting one. On one hand, Delaney attempts to add depth to their lives by giving the two main women difficult histories but this never really goes any further. Yes, their reactions are a tad different but you could think both were the same person from the way they were written. Only slightly small differences in the terms they use remind you you’re reading about Jane as opposed to Emma for example.
Edward is a fascinating character – he just seems to turn up to have sex with the women. He doesn’t seem to hang around long to do much talking and yet they both become besotted by him. It’s got a sense of Fifty Shades (or so I imagine as I’ve not read it) where the interest in the man is the sexual power he holds over them and the assertiveness he brings. When he’s not performing some explicit act on them in a crowded room he’s cooking them some lavish meal with exotic, and likely expensive, ingredients. Other than these qualities, he’s actually incredibly dull and not someone I could imagine having a particularly engaging conversation with.
The Girl Before – 4/5
I did like The Girl Before and was pleased by how it turned out. If I could give it a 3.5, I would but I don’t do that and I felt a 3 wouldn’t have represented how much I enjoyed it. Was Edward utterly dull and the two main characters only slightly more interesting? Yes. But was the storyline engaging and filled with endless unanswered questions that kept me reading? Yes.