But Friday found me at the library, and for some reason, I kept picking up thrillers. I guess I need something plot-driven right now. Something where I care about what's happening, but don't have to really care about the characters. I don't need anyone's pain, and I don't need anyone's happiness. I just want twists and turns and a rush to the end.
So I read three of them in a row this weekend. Two YA and one adult. They all had a lot in common, of course, and they all had their own strengths and weaknesses. I'm not going to straight-up spoil anything, but it's hard to talk about thrillers without giving things away, so be warned. If you like going in with no idea of what to expect, skip to the summary at the bottom.
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
This is my second Weingarten thriller, and will probably be my last. Not because they're bad, they're just not AS good as I want them to be. Thrillers are not my go-to genre, so I really only want the best of the best.
The cover is just weird, frankly. The title doesn't match the story in any particular way, and as for the fly in the lipstick--ew.
One thing this book does well is create the sense that but for a few terrible decisions combined with some terrible luck, the protagonists would have been okay. Some thrillers star people who are so decidedly messed up that they and those they come up against are doomed to a bad end. But Sasha and Xavier could have been so happy...
Red herrings abound, there's an astoundingly gruesome road trip, and if you like to read about people eating good diner food, this book is for you.
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
I know We Were Liars got a lot of attention (deserved, in my opinion), but I always think of Lockhart as the author of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I loved. I'd heard mixed things about this one, but am willing to take a chance on an author that has charmed me before.
The story starts off with a bang, and I loved how it pulled you into Jules's escapades right away. As the story develops, it isn't hard to see the shades of The Talented Mr. Ripley, and even Single White Female, up to and including the less-murderous-than-expected-assault-by-high-heel. It's back-to-front setup works well and helps keep surprises coming even as the reader slowly works out what's really going on. I found some elements of the final few chapters a bit of a let-down, but up until then I was on the edge of my seat. (Metaphorically only, as I actually spent the entire time sprawled on the couch.)
Lie to Me by J. T. Ellison
This one was twisty! I don't know if the jump from YA to adult means this author was granted more pages to play and plot in, or more license to create seriously messed up characters, or what, but it felt very different from the first two books, while still being clearly in the same genre.
One subplot involves the whole Authors Behaving Badly thing on Goodreads (mildly disguised as "Superb Reads" for obvious reasons), which was kind of meta. I really liked how the author had me going in one direction as I anticipated the twist, and then doubled back on it and actually caught me off guard. The characters aren't particularly likable (other than the police officer), but they were definitely engaging.
When I read them, I liked Genuine Fraud better than Bad Girls, but a day later, I'm starting to reverse my opinion Genuine Fraud had such a cool structure, and Bad Girls had that whole classical tragedy/fatal flaw thing going on. Lie to Me was the most gripping of the three, without containing anyone I could relate to. Only one of these had an ending in which the plotted-against got out from under the plotter, and I won't tell you which. If you like thrillers, I think they're all worth a read.
And if you need to get out of your own head for a weekend without having to get overly emotionally engaged--read them all at once, like I did.