Book Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

PopSugar 2021 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book from your TBR list chosen at random Other PS 2021 reading prompts this would satisfy...

PopSugar 2021 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book from your TBR list chosen at random

Other PS 2021 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover, A book featuring three generations

TW: Literally all of the content warnings, but this book is intensely graphic and involves graphic torture and mutilation.

I grew up with my mom reading Karin Slaughter. But somehow just started reading her books myself a few years ago when I jumped into the Will Trent series at book 7 or 8 (which worked fine as a stand-alone, but *omg the horror of picking up a book in the middle of a series*). One of the things that hooked me right away with Slaughter’s books is the settings. (And can we also just talk about the fact her real name is Slaughter). Almost all (if not all) of her books are set in the Atlanta-area. Since I live in the area, the books are so much more real, so much more vivid. She uses many actual landmarks and locations which makes it so easy to truly visualize the story, which can certainly be a bit graphic because Karin does not play.

Back cover synopsis: More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

One of the first things you’ve probably ever heard about the book Pretty Girls is that it is intensely gory and graphic. Karin Slaughter novels are notorious for their violence against women, so reading graphic scenes about women being tortured and killed is particularly challenging and not for the faint of heart. I will say that Pretty Girls in particular also has strong leading ladies, which I realize doesn’t quite balance out the horror of those graphic scenes and situations but it also makes the books more appealing. So if you choose to read Karin Slaughter’s books, go in with the mindset that they’re horribly graphic and more often than not portray violence against women.

But that’s not to say they’re not horribly entertaining. If you enjoy true crime, you’ll enjoy Karin Slaughter. Her books are written in a way that seems so real, and maybe it’s because of my home-ties with Atlanta, but her books honestly don’t feel like just novels. And it feels better to enjoy fictional crime over true crime because the fictional books, while likely based on real things, aren’t actually connected to real people the way that true crime is.

Now Pretty Girls is a lengthy book. There are a few different main characters, as well as letters that are interweaved throughout the story. Plus there are many, many twists and turns that are mostly unexpected. Every time I thought the book was ending due to a loose end being tied (because I often listened on audio), there would be a great twist that would get back into the story. But quite honestly, the book is so good. The storytelling is so effective, as always, but the way the story is structured and the plot line is just so damn phenomenal. Slaughter really knocks it out of the park with this book.

“...if a man rejects a woman, she goes home and cries for a few days. If a woman rejects a man, he can rape and kill her.” - Pretty Girls, Karin Slaughter

I know this book isn’t for everyone. There’s just about every trigger warning you could think of, so steer clear of this book if you’re worried about the triggers because there are a lot, they are graphic, and they are often on-page. But if you like crime thrillers that focus on the victims and their families (not law enforcement), and if you like true crime, chances are you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s definitely one hell of a ride.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

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