Tuesday, March 22, 2016

People like to feel as if they're important

This was a Just The Right Book selection and while it was a pretty quick read, it wasn't great. But let's get to problems in a second and talk about what the book is about.
The story is about a woman, Mia Dennett, who decides to go home with this guy she met in the bar but UH OH, instead of sexy times, she gets kidnapped. The guy, Colin, is hired by some mysterious figures to kidnap her but for reasons decides instead to not turn her over and and instead the two go into hiding in this cabin in the middle of no where Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Mia's mother Eve is (naturally) devastated, while her father, a prominent judge, and her sister don't seem to care all that much. Which would be odd and a clue that something isn't quite right, but it's more the case of characters not being fleshed out instead of some spoiler for the story. But detective Gabe cares almost as much as Eve to know what happened to Mia and bring her home.

Spoiler, she comes home. Except it's not really a spoiler because the chapters jump back and forth between Before, with Colin keeping Mia in said cabin and Gabe searching for her and After, when Mia has been returned home. She doesn't remember anything though and keeps wanting to be referred to as Chloe, the name of her imaginary friend growing up.

A blurb on the back of this book says "Kubica's powerful debut...will encourage comparisons to Gone Girl." Can we all agree that saying a book should be compared to Gone Girl is meaningless? Because I've yet to actually read a book with that comparison that actually reminded me of GG. This one most definitely doesn't other than a fact that there is a girl and she is in fact kidnapped (or gone, if you will). Beyond that, no. WORDS HAVE MEANINGS, PEOPLE.

For the most part the story takes some (or, like, more than some...) suspension of disbelief but kept me engaged enough. Except for a few parts that made me step back.

There's a scene where the detective assigned to Mia's disappearance, who up to this point had been a very stand-up guy, certainly one of the good guys, says something that made me think "...Wait, what did you just say?" So Gabe is describing the neighborhood where Mia lived. Her family has a LOT of money, but Mia doesn't live in the super ritzy area. Here's how Gabe describes it:
The high-rise is located in Uptown, certainly not the best neighborhood in the city; not the worst either. Far from it. It's a mix of people who can't quite afford the classier areas like Lakeview or Lincoln Park, and an eclectic mix of men and women who just stepped off the boat. It's very diverse. Ethnic restaurants line the streets, and not just Chinese and Mexican; there's Moroccan and Vietnamese and Ethiopian joints. Regardless of its diversity, nearly of the population of Uptown is still white. It's relatively safe to walk around at night.
So, thanks Gabe for telling me how even though there are ethnic restaurants in town (not just Chinese and Mexican!), it's still mostly white and thus still safe to walk around at night. I know you didn't say directly that because it's white it's safe at night. But you did reassure the reader that it's still mostly white people and then immediately follow that up with how safe it is. So. I don't think Gabe thinks of that as racist. Because I don't think Kubica thought of it as racist. There's nothing that Gabe says later along these lines to suggest this is a characteristic of Gabe. He was just stating what the thought of as facts.

Later there was a similar moment where a character, another good guy, suddenly does something that makes me think I know a lot about Kubica's values. Though be warned for thar be spoilers here.

Eve, Mia's mother, is one of the good people. We're in her head for a good chunk of the book so we know how good she is, especially compared to her husband, who is just terrbile. Not a lot of characterization about him other than "cold" and "mean" and "jerk". So it turns out that Mia is pregnant. She doesn't believe it (and doesn't remember anything about what happened). Her father wants her to have an abortion, mostly so she doesn't shame the family. I mean, there could be something there about the fact that if Mia is pregnant than she was raped by her captor and maybe that's why she's blocking whatever happened, and he's trying to protect her. Except that's never how it's positioned, because that would make him a better rounded character. So instead we get him DEMANDING she get an abortion, while her mother does everything she can to protect Mia from this because abortion is wrong wrong wrong. Again, maybe this is just how the character thinks, but given the characters aren't that fleshed out, it seems more like a way to indicate which characters you should sympathize with and which you should hate.
Spoilers contained

There's a twist that might work if you don't think about it too hard.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 43

Kubica, Mary. The Good Girl. Mira, 2014.