By Emma Cline
Summary: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
Source: I purchased paperback
I feel a bit conflicted about The Girls.
I was kind of drawn in, curious to see how the story would go. It seemed obvious to me that this would involve the infamous cult we all know about and the hints in the beginning seemed to indicate that. And then, I realized that the author used almost all the of the same details and just changed the name of the people. I don’t know why that bothered me so much. It’s so obviously about the Manson girls. But instead of just being about them and being a cool fictitious “maybe this is how it was” type of story, it backed off and was a “different” cult. I’m frustrated. If it was going to be about a different cult, do your own thing. Own the Manson thing or do your own, but don’t just stay in between like you are really writing about the Manson girls but not really because his name is Russell and it’s just sort of the same. I really don’t know why I’m so bothered by it, but it just seemed so.. lame.. like how commercials use a bland extremely similar logo as the competitors when we all know what brand they are really talking about.
I think perhaps I’d feel a little less bothered if the story was at least satisfying. There was so much build up. I wanted to know what would happen to Evie, how the experience would impact her, how she felt about her part in the cult… it was an interesting portrayal from someone who seemed far removed from worshipping Manson (I mean Russell *rolls eyes*) and I wanted something to matter in the end. Instead, we got this whole intriguing set up and it just fizzled into nothing.
I wanted this story to be so much more than it was. I almost feel cheated. Like the author couldn’t even come up with her own cult as a backdrop in the first place and then she couldnt even figure out what to do int eh aftermath so the book just sort of ended unceremoniously. If she had this brilliant idea to take this POV and run with it, why didn’t she.. really run with it? She brought nothing new to the table. In this case, the documentaries and the novels and true crime accounts of the Manson cult and/or murders have been far more compelling. In this case, truth was stranger than fiction. This book simply didn’t do anything to warrant being written and it was so close to being better had it just had more of a purpose or plot.
Still, the writing was good. It was beautiful, actually, and compelling. Evie was a character I wanted more of the entire time. There was certainly something to the novel that made me wanted to keep reading even though nothing was happening. It wasn’t the complete waste of time I might have made it sound like it was.