This book has the dubious honour of being the most unpleasant read that I’ve had to force myself to finish so far this year. Let me tell you why in one sentence: this book hates women. And I don’t mean that lightly; it really, really hates women.
The basic plot is clearly influenced by the current popularity of anti-heroes and gory crime drama because our protagonist, Lane, is a sociopathic teenage girl who casually talks about wanting to become a murderer in the same breath she uses to call her sister a slut. Which happens often. Lane exhibits all the textbook traits of what the media presents as a killer – she’s aloof to the point of having only one long-distance friend, is incredibly intelligent and obviously has an unhealthy interest in murders. So an infamous serial killer surfaces again in Lane’s hometown and because of reasons develops an interest in Lane herself, texting her and sending her graphic videos of his kills. Lane decides that, instead of telling her FBI mother and father, she can handle this on her own and I have questions to raise about this:
1. Lane’s mother and father are FBI higher-ups, with Lane’s mother heading the Behavioural Analysis unit, meaning they have years of experience in and out of the field and yet apparently they can’t tell that their daughter is hiding something? Or more importantly that she’s a complete sociopath?
2. Lane is supposedly intelligent and educated but displays very little of this in the book. Why on earth would anyone ever respond to a serial killer texting them or open files sent to them, I don’t understand. Also, despite her endlessly arrogant opinions about how great she is at serial killer 101, Lane can’t seem to put obvious clues together. Why is this book the way it is.
The women-hating thing, let’s talk about it. Right, so Lane is described as boyish and is presented as masculine – she has a flat chest, dresses androgynously and doesn’t care about the things those other girls care about because she is a special snowflake. I need to point out that she is deliberately presented as masculine within the text because every other female character is called a myriad of slurs – Lane’s sister Daisy is sexually active so Lane refers to her as a ‘slut’ and passes deeply insulting remarks about her sister’s skill at handjobs and blowjobs. Another character, Belinda, who has been in and out of rehab is described as unhinged, jealous and petty – Lane assaults her and upon finding out that Belinda went to her ex-boyfriend for help, calls her a ‘typically helpless female’. During the aftermath of an arson attack on a family Lane doesn’t even bloody know, the mother commits suicide – Lane’s opinion on the matter is that the mother should’ve just been one of the killer’s victims instead because that would kill two birds with one stone. Obviously the killer’s victims are all female and die in gruesome ways with Lane talking about how unnatural grief is towards these unknown victims because this book HATES WOMEN. Lane’s only friend is a girl called Reggie, who again is androgynous. Both these girls are sexually active but apparently don’t care for sex so are better than those other girls who enjoy their sexual sides. God forbid a girl be sexually active and enjoy it.
Amongst a number of other weird shit that happens, including Lane’s stint as Batman (again, masculine) in which she becomes a masked vigilante, the final twist to the book is both awful and indicative of the underlying theme that all women are to be hated. It’s a twist that doesn’t make sense narratively and thus only happens so that the book could have a shocking reveal right at the end. Do you want to read a book with the same kind of storyline but without the visceral hatred of women and poor narrative choices? Read The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Go pick up the first season of Criminal Minds; watch Dexter. Just don’t read this book.