The It Girl, by Ruth Ware. Book report #4 (2023)

The It Girl, by Ruth Ware. Pub 2022

This was part of my Christmas book bounty, chosen as it kept coming up on reading suggestions from the book shop and elsewhere, and I liked the idea of a modern Agatha Christie-type book, which indeed this was.

Hannah and April are fresher roommates at a (fictional) Oxford college. Near the end of their first year, April is murdered in their room, and Hannah is the main witness for the prosecution of the shady/icky college porter. After a decade of professing his innocence, the porter dies in prison; while this should be the end of the tragic story, it becomes the beginning of Hannah’s quest to learn the true story about what happened that night in their room. After many twists and turns, red herrings and dead ends, the truth is revealed, and Hannah and her friends can at last move on with their lives.

This is definitely not “literature” in the same way that Christie is not. It is well written and engaging, and information is revealed at just the right pace to keep you both sure of your solution and second-guessing it, but nothing about it is either quotable or thought-provoking. The resolution is well done and sensible, minus the drawing room “I’ve called you all here to reveal…” scene (although there is a modern variation of that with the final summation). It was interesting to read such a story set in nearly-modern times. The murder takes place in 2012, and the nascent social media of the time (esp. Instagram) plays a minor role throughout the story; an interesting element was the emergence of “influence” as a career for a younger character in the story.

My only quibble (and it is minor, as it makes sense in the genre) is with the lead character, Hannah. While it is important to have sympathy for her and her desire to put away the horrors of the past, I couldn’t get away from thinking that she was a bit insipid – both weak and immature in her relationships and in dealing with the various circumstances and information. There is a lot of crying, fainting, and hand-wringing – quite worthy of Christie – that felt out of place in a modern tale. Some of the minor characters were worthy of more notice and detail, but I wouldn’t suggest that the book be any longer than it already is.

Overall, a good beach- or travel-read, suitable for enjoying and then happily leaving for another reader.

Fate: will pass along to another reader, either directly or indirectly (I have a bus trip coming up…).

1 – a book with a murder
4 – a book published in 2022/2023
8 – a book with a female author
25 – a new author to me
27 – a gift

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