My rating: 2 of 5 stars
2.5 out of 5 Stars
“When things end, there’s supposed to be a reason. A catalyst. Something you can look back on later when you need an explanation. Even if it doesn’t make you feel any better.”
Let me preface this review by saying that my copy of Girl in a Bad Place is an uncorrected proof, so I am sure there were things in this version that were cut out of the finalized piece.
Mailee and Cara are best friends. Like, the BEST of best friends. Cara is an organized, down-to-earth, and skeptical girl dating a popular jock. Mailee is a super messy, starry-eyed, gullible girl dating a farmer boy. The two have a lot of opposites, but that seems to be what makes their years-long friendship work so well. Sadly, Cara’s younger sister Harper died in a car accident two years prior, and it tore her family apart. Cara has never fully recovered from the tragedy. Mailee has the “perfect” happy family and home life, but she too feels the loss of Harper as she considered her a little sister. One day, Cara and Mailee meet a strange little girl named Avalon and her young mother at the mall. The mother tells the girls about her peaceful commune called the Haven, and Mailee is shocked to see how interested Cara is in hearing about the weird hippie community.
Cara convinces Mailee to go visit the Haven, and the girls, accompanied by their boyfriends, make the long trip deep into the country of Montana. Mailee and the boyfriends are all quite put off by the strangeness of the commune life (vegans, pacifists, shack-dwellers) and the imposing yet charming leader of the Haven, Firehorse.
After the visit, Mailee is sure Cara’s curiosity will be quenched, but she is surprised to find that Cara very much enjoyed her visit there and plans to return. Cara seems almost obsessed with Avalon and even mentions how much the girl reminds her of her deceased little sister.
It’s pretty obvious by now, but Cara decides to join the commune and Mailee is determined to make her change her mind.
I am giving this book the benefit of the doubt due to my copy being an uncorrected proof, but there were some definite issues that I noticed in the story. I found Girl in a Bad Place to be a very predictable ‘thriller’ with a frustratingly gullible main character and an underwhelming reveal of the villain’s motivation. I found that Mailee was likable enough, but her impressive ability to never employ the use of critical-thinking made me start to hate her a little. (view spoiler)
I thought one of the best things about Girl in a Bad Place was solid pieces of advice thrown in here and there. Like how Cara’s stupid jerk boyfriend pressures her about sex and so she breaks up with him. And how Mailee is completely there for her after the breakup and tells her that no one should ever pressure her into something she doesn’t feel comfortable with. Or how having life goals and aspirations is great but you are allowed to change and grow despite older goals. (view spoiler)
Girl in a Bad Place is an easy read that is interesting enough if you don’t have anything better to read, but not one that I would really recommend overall.