First Impressions: I didn't hear too much about this novel before I decided I wanted to read and review it. It caught my eye while I was browsing inside of Barnes & Nobles on day, and I was super lucky to receive a review copy from the publisher. I liked the comparison to the book Hatchet, which is a personal favorite of mine. I don't read too many contemporary novels, so I don't have much to compare this one to. I really like the cover art on this book since it seems kind of dark and mysterious.
First 50 Pages: You would never guess that this book is the author's first novel. Her writing is outstanding and it will immediately pull you into the story. The writing is almost lyrical, with a nice and easy flow to it. Each character has a unique voice, coupled with various plot twists and turns, made this book a definite page-turner. This book did begin on the slower side, but it quickly picked up the pace a few chapters into the story.
Characters & Plot: The plot follows Lida, a sixteen year old girl, and a multitude of other girls, who had been through some serious issues in the past, and it still dealing with difficult situations. Lida is depressed and feels very alone, which she tries to relieve by cutting herself. Her cutting results in her being sent to the Alice Marshall School, where other teens with similar issues and other difficulties are residing. The school is more like a rehabilitation center where these teens can hopefully deal with their issues and move past their issues in a supposedly safe environment.
The writing style of this book was very unique and something that I don't see very much or very often. The Girls of No Return is an epistolary novel, written from Lida's point of view of what went down at the school, from some point in the future. It was obvious to me that some terrible things happened, but things are revealed slowly throughout the course of the story.
I love flawed characters and this book has a ton of them. Each character has layers upon layers of personality, which make it hard to decide who can be trusted and who is being manipulative and undeserving of trust. Lida makes some very unwise decisions in the beginning of the novel which becomes worse as the story progresses and it leads to a major event at the end of the book. Things really hit the fan, so to speak.
Final Thoughts: As someone who doesn't like many contemporary stories, I enjoyed this one. It was unique in its own way and I loved how the book ended. This is no fairy tale, and it has no real happy ending. You aren't going to find fairies, unicorns, and rainbows here. The whole book felt very real to me, especially the characters and the situations that they are put into, or put themselves into. It wasn't as dark and deep as I expected it to be, but it still had a little edge to it. I would definitely give it a recommendation to the contemporary readers!