Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Synopsis: Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive–and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant– and it does.
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space–and its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
The Girl Before is already being adapted for the big screen by Ron Howard, which is fitting because it reads very much like a movie. In some aspects I found it to be an enjoyable and compelling read, but there were some problems, mainly with the characters. The story is told by Emma and Jane, in alternating chapters. I didn’t find either of them likable or believable, although, I thought Jane was portrayed in a somewhat more positive light. Emma actually wound up reminding me of Anastasia from Fifty Shades of Grey, and if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know how much I loved that book (yes that was sarcasm!) She also has daddy issues which lends a whole new level of “yuck” to her and Edward’s relationship. Another annoying factor in Emma’s chapters were the complete lack of quotation marks. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this because it was extremely distracting trying to figure out when it was actually Emma who was talking. Jane who rents the house a year after Emma and her boyfriend, was a little more savvy yet she still falls under Edward’s spell in the beginning. I could not buy into either woman’s fascination with him, not even for a minute. Edward is a narcissistic control freak who shows his disdain for everyone around him on multiple occasions. And honestly! Who in their right mind would sign a lease basically giving up their rights as long as they live in the house? No books? Seriously? What saved this story for me though was the mystery behind Emma’s death. I was truly kept guessing almost right up until the very end. Although I had my issues with The Girl Before, the mystery was intriguing and because of the twists and turns it was a quick read. It’s being compared to Gone Girl and The Girl On the Train and it did share similarities to these two bestsellers, so if you’re a fan of those, you may enjoy this.