ARC Review: A Psychological Thriller

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Summary from NetGalley:

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

ARC provided by Gallery Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

I have some mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand the plot was pretty good and left me guessing as to who the real killer was. But the characters and the motive for the murder left me feeling underwhelmed about the whole thing.

Hannah was a typical lead character in this type of book. Appears or thinks of herself as weak but proves that she can muster up the strength when needed. She is also naive, innocent about how the world works and makes many questionable life choices. She also puts her health and that of her unborn child at risk because of all of the stress. Speaking of the pregnancy, it was mentioned way to often and felt like we were beaten over the head with it. Which would have been okay if it had been central to the story, but it wasn’t, so it just became annoying.

Hannah’s relationship with April was also a bit annoying and kind of a weak link in the story. April was not a very nice person, and did not particularly show kindness to Hannah, so why should she be tormented by her murder? Also the man she accused, while innocent of this crime was not a good person, in fact he was a perv, who sexually harassed and assaulted Hannah. Should she feel guilt for sending an innocent man to prison? Maybe, but she certainly saved other women from his torment by doing so.

There were many other characters in this story, most of them from the time Hannah was at Oxford, and almost all of them were suspects at some point in the story. The real murderer was a bit of a surprise, as they had the best alibi, but not too surprising. Although I felt that the motive was a bit weak. The ending was also kind of weak, as Hannah finally puts it all together after accusing her husband of the murder.

The dual timeline worked for the most part, until 2/3rds in when the past timeline stops and the action takes place all in the present. The past is where we meet all of the suspects and their relationships with April are revealed. I never felt like we fully got to know April and as I said before the motive behind the killing was weak and not very believable. If April had been a bit more developed, I might have felt something about her and Hannah and the many other characters.

I think I am sounding a bit harsher than I mean to in this review. This wasn’t a bad book, in fact it will make a pretty good beach read. How the killer pulls off the murder was intriguing and not what I saw coming. The pacing was good, and it was somewhat compelling and hard to put down at times. If you are looking for a standard psychological thriller to read on the beach than this is the one you should pick up.

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