Published by Simon Pulse on June 20th, 2017
Pretty Little Liars meets Luckiest Girl Alive in this riveting novel about a practically perfect girl who is willing to do anything to make sure it stays that way. Absolutely anything.
Things to know about Riley Stone:
Riley Stone is just about perfect. (Ask anyone.)
She has a crush on her French teacher, Alex Belrose. (And she suspects he likes her, too.)
Riley has her entire life planned out. (The plan is nonnegotiable.)
She’s never had a secret she couldn’t keep. (Not ever.)
Riley is sure that her life is on the right track. (And nothing will change that.)
She’s nothing like a regular teenager. (But she doesn’t have any problem admitting that.)
Riley doesn’t usually play games. (But when she does, she always wins.)
She thinks a game is about to start…
But Riley always has a plan…
And she always wins.
This was SO good! I went into it knowing as little as possible – there is a student-teacher romance and a twist – and I totally recommend doing the same. So I’ll do my best to avoid plot things while telling you all the ways this was such an awesome thriller that you absolutely need to read.
First of all, I loved Riley. She’s a type A overachiever, but turned up to an 11. She works really, really hard at everything, from her grades in her AP classes, to her extracurricular activities, to the various charity operations she organizes. That hard work has paid off in the form of grants and scholarships that have accumulated so much that she’s able to pay for college a billion times over. She’s well-known in her community for her achievements and is well-regarded as a model citizens. To the people of her community, she can do no wrong. I loved seeing a super-smart character who actually works. We witness first hand how hard Riley pushes herself to get it all done – she doesn’t really have down time because she’s always working. I think that all too often there are are “smart” characters who don’t actually have to try, and that’s just not realistic. While Riley’s achievements may be a bit over the top, I find it more rewarding to read a character who puts in the time and effort to reach her goals.
I also found Riley to be relatable to who I was as a teenager. Sure, I wasn’t the overly charitable or academic type, but in Riley’s little down time spent with friends, it felt like she could be a real person. They ate a ton of junk food, they gossiped, they teased each other. I do wish we had more of their friendship though because it seemed a bit surface level. The things they did together as friends, from their movie binges to the study group in the library, all felt like real high school friendship stuff, but it was kind of shallow beyond that.
The best thing about this was the tone. Everything started off just fine but slowly and surely a darkness crept in. Nothing overtly weird or shocking happened, but suddenly there was an edge of anger to the writing that somehow wormed its way in without my noticing. This made for an intense reading experience, not being able to pinpoint what exactly was making me uncomfortable. If you asked me what I was reading, all I’d have been able to tell you was “This girl is having an affair with her teacher.” But it was so much more than that. You could tell something was wrong but I felt like I had a bag thrown over my head and I was tossed into a van, driving through the city making a series of nonsensical turns so I couldn’t figure out where I was. And I mean that in the best way.
The twist was excellent because I hadn’t seen it coming at all. Going into books with a twist, I always have my theories and knock them out one by one as they’re debunked. But with Such a Good Girl I literally had no idea what was coming. And I don’t mean that to say there was no foreshadowing and that the author threw together the ending. Not at all. I’m actually quite excited to reread this from the perspective of someone who knows what happens. This was absolutely a masterclass in untrustworthy characters and mystery plotting.
If you like thrillers, I highly, highly recommend Such a Good Girl. It is a fascinating character study, an intense mystery, and a quiet undoing of the psyche. It is also compulsively readable, with fast paced writing, perfect for the summer.