Review: Pretty Is

Posted January 15, 2016

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Pretty Is Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell
Published by Orion Genres: Crime
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Everyone thought we were dead.

We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think?

They were glad to have us back, of course. But nothing was the same. It was as if we had returned from the dead, as if we were tainted somehow. We were not the same.

And it was true, though not in the way they thought.

Lois and Carly-May are just twelve years old when they’re abducted and imprisoned for two months.

That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they form a bond which will never be broken…

Decades later, both Lois and Carly-May have built new lives and identities for themselves.

Lois and Carly-May are drawn together again to face the truth of their beautiful, terrible story.

As 12 year olds (back in the 90s) Carly May, a beauty pageant frequenter, and Lois, a Spelling Bee champ, were abducted. They were held captive in a cabin in Adirondack woods for six weeks that summer by a man they called Zed.

Fast forward to the present day and we find that, through the insistence of their families, the girls have lost touch with one another. Carly May is now Chloe, an actress, while Lois is a college professor specialising in 18th century literature. Lois is also the author of best selling novel Deep In The Woods, a fictionalised account of her childhood ordeal. She hides her past though by writing under pseudonym, Lucy Ledger.

This novel narrates from the perspectives of both Lois and Chloe. We see their present lives as well as their memories and reflections on their kidnapping. There’s actually a whole part of this book that is written as an excerpt of Lois/Lucy’s novel. This part gives us an insight into the relationships formed by Carly May, Lois and Zed from Lois’ perspective.

When Lois’ book is optioned for a movie, Chloe (as an actress) reads the script and knows immediately that she is reading her own story. As Chloe tries to secure a part in this film of her life, Lois is being troubled by a student called Sean who is taking an excessive interest in her past.

I wanted to enjoy this novel but I just didn’t. In all honesty I was counting the pages to the end, which is never a good sign!

I was drawn to the concept of looking at an abduction, from the perspective of the victims, almost 20 years down the line. I was eager to find out how those 6 weeks spent in a remote cabin as 12 year olds would have impacted the girls later in life.

The thing is that it just wasn’t what I’d hope it would be. Now obviously I’m not saying anything about Mitchell here, I just had my own preconceived idea of what this book would be and it turned out to be quite different from the actual novel itself. I’m afraid I can’t even claim to have become caught up in the writing itself, it just didn’t do it for me.

I’m not sure there’s much more I can say about this. I do hate to be negative. I guess I just liked the concept of the book but wasn’t so keen on the execution.