Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter is a thrilling ride filled with twists and turns. This psychological thriller is packed with suspense and highly disturbing content. I don’t say this to discourage anyone from reading it by any means. I’m just letting you know this is not for the faint of heart. The violence in this book is extremely graphic, but I think it was pivotal to pack the punch that the plot was delivering. This story follows two sisters that have grown apart after a tragedy occurs within the family. It is told from multiple points-of-view in both a 2nd person and 3rd person POV. That sounds confusing I know but Slaughter pulls it off brilliantly.
I loved how this story was told. We have the alternating POVs in the 3rd person perspective between the two sisters – Lydia and Claire. Then we have the journal entries from their father written in 2nd person perspective to his daughter, Julia, who went missing. In the midst of all the messed up sibling drama, missing girls, and criminal investigation Slaughter inserts these random journal entries as a vehicle to connect the reader to the emotional turmoil within the story. Which in my opinion elevates the strength of the gut punch that is delivered by the extremely violent plot. It humanizes the victims to the reader which makes this an uncomfortable read, but you can’t stop reading it. It’s kind of like watching a really thrilling episode of Criminal Minds or sitting through Hannibal. You know it is going to freak you out, but you watch it anyway. Then proceed to triple check the locks on the doors. This is the type of reading experience you can expect with Pretty Girls.
I really don’t want to say much more about the plot. It has so many twists and turns that I don’t want to accidentally spoil it for you. So let’s touch a bit on the characters instead. The characters in this book are not likable at all. Claire is a rich, selfish and spoiled brat. She is used to living a very pampered type of life and letting other people take care of everything. She is probably my least favorite out of the whole cast of characters and often times I found myself just wanting to shake her. Her sister Lydia is also pretty frustrating, but in other ways. Lydia doesn’t communicate well, she has self-esteem issues, and is a recovering drug addict. She reacts to situations that upset her or cause stress by stuffing herself with food or lashing out with anger or sarcasm. Also, I would have liked to see more development of the side characters like Rick, Dee and Helen. I think if there was more of the family dynamic between Lydia, her boyfriend Rick, and her daughter Dee it would have helped to round out Lydia’s character a bit more.
In the end, I wasn’t sure how to rate this one. The story was well written and kept me interested throughout the entire book. Which is what I would expect from a suspense thriller. The detailed and graphic violence made this a very uncomfortable read because it was so disturbing. However, I ended up rating this at 4 stars. I thought the characters could have used a bit more work. However, the plot was well thought out and the pacing was excellent. I couldn’t put it down because of all the plot twists! I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys psychological thrillers.