Child Pornography, Murder Mysteries, Paranormal Fiction, Sexual Exploitation of Minors, YA Fiction
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Symopsis: Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.
There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.
She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of the street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents drive right through her.
She was right. Her parents are alive, but she’s not.
She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twists of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.
Bad Girl Gone drove me absolutely crazy! I loved the premise, but throughout the entire story there just seemed to be something missing. It was as if there was magic there right beyond the horizon, but it never quite materialized.
*Before I continue, I need to warn you about what could be triggers for some readers. One concerns the murders of children and teenagers, and the other centers around child pornography and the sexual exploitation of minors. None of these are graphically depicted, but some readers may have issues with these.*
I think most of of my issues were with the characters and the dialogue. I disliked Echo from the very beginning, which made it impossible for me to care about her. To be honest, I felt she was a spoiled brat who took her rather privileged life for granted. At one point, instead of wondering who would want to kill her, I was wondering who wouldn’t want to. And, making things worse is that her “voice” just seemed so flat and unemotional.
There was also an annoying love triangle between Echo, Andy, her living boyfriend, and Cole, her new dead love interest. I actually liked both boys, but I couldn’t figure out why they were so crazy about Echo. Plus, I think I can count on the fingers of one hand, the times that this plot device has worked for me.
There were several interesting secondary characters, with my favorite being Darby who was not what she first appeared to be. The problem was, that because of the relatively short length of the book, there just wasn’t enough time to develop all of them fully.
The story itself would have been much more enjoyable if the author hadn’t decided to add a second plotline involving the head of the orphanage. Perhaps in a longer book this would have been an intriguing and welcome layer, but here it was unnecessary, and took away from the central mystery.
I thought when the big reveal came I’d feel at least a modicum of empathy for Echo, but I didn’t. The villain was predictable, although their motivation took me by surprise. But because of my feelings toward Echo, I didn’t connect emotionally into an event that I ordinarily would have.
In the end, Bad Girl Gone left me cold, and no matter how much I would have liked to, I just can’t recommend it. I’m giving it 2 stars because I like the cover, the idea behind the story, and a few of the secondary characters. As always, please check out other reviews on Goodreads and Amazon before making up your mind as to whether you want to try this. The ending leaves me to believe that there will be a sequel, but I’m just not interested enough in Echo to continue.
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