☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆
About the Book:
Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.
Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer–traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: A mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.
Nina, Vanessa, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.
This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.
Pretty Things is not a high-octane thriller, but a slow-burner with a lot of backstory which is told in dual narration by the two main characters, Nina and Vanessa. Their perspectives are naturally colored by their limited knowledge and their belief in others’ misperceptions.
Vanessa is a vapid, poor-little-rich girl who is perpetually seeking validation from others. Nina is more sympathetic, but she is very naïve despite the nature of the people in her intimate circle.
I loved the story premise, and the dual narration by two questionable narrators added a dark sense of foreboding. However, with this dual narration, there is a bit too much duplication, and that combined with the abundance of description and detail, made for very long book. I feel that some careful editing is in order. It is the difference between the movie you don’t wish to end and the one that leaves you squirming in your seat because it is unnecessarily long.
I did very much enjoy the last third of the book. Not only does the plot pace pick up at the point, but the balance starts to tip. I was delighted to no longer be sure of how the story would play out, and the twists are amazing! I did not see the pivotal roles of two of the secondary characters. The wicked indignation made me want to roar. The story climax is perfect, and the denouement unexpected. I haven’t decided exactly how I feel about the ending, but it is clever.
About the Author: Janelle Brown first started off as an essayist and journalist, writing for Wired and Salon in San Francisco, during the dotcom boom years. In the 1990’s, she was also the editor and co-founder of Maxi, an irreverent women’s pop culture magazine. Her writing has also appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.
She spent the last fifteen years working on my novels, writing the occasional essay, and living in Los Angeles with my husband and two children.
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