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Book Reviews of The Girls

The Girls
The Girls
Author: Emma Cline
ISBN-13: 9780812988024
ISBN-10: 0812988027
Publication Date: 5/30/2017
Pages: 384
Edition: Reprint
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

3 stars, based on 12 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

marcym avatar reviewed The Girls on + 159 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Totally bummed, when I had such high hopes for this book. It read more like a teenager trying to sum up Helter Skelter, borrowing some big words from the thesaurus, and not caring as long as they at least score a C. On the bright side, I read a library copy so I'm not out $$ or credits!
reviewed The Girls on + 46 more book reviews
Reading the blurb, you assume this is about a girl joining the Manson Family. And it is. Except of course, all names have been changed so we can pretend that's not what it's about it all. It pretends to be about some other group of people, even though a lot of the details are the same (like Charles/Mitch's attempts to become a professional musician). Ironically, it contains the standard, "This is a work of fiction" disclaimer, saying any resemblance to real people or events is coincidental when it's quite clear it's not coincidence at all. I'm sure there are legal reasons for the choice, but it feels very false. Either write a book about the Manson Family, or change everything. But to use all the exact details except with different names seems odd.

All that aside, the book is disappointing. The author tries too hard to be artistic and in doing so, fails to tell an interesting story.
maura853 avatar reviewed The Girls on + 542 more book reviews
Unbearably overwritten and indulgent. Exploitative, given that it's a "reimagining" of real-life, horrific murders.

What you have here is what I'd describe as "creative writing-itis:" so desperate to seem poetical, odd and edgy that all sense and style go straight out the window.

There are misplaced modifiers, with interesting results. My father ... left beer bottles on the steps that trapped wasps and beat his bare chest in the morning to keep his lungs strong. (Clever wasps, eh?)

There are wild overstatements. Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved. Which just demand the response, sez who?

There are random details that are clearly intended to make everything feel very real, very grounded: Ritz crackers, L'Air du Temps perfume, "The Man from UNCLE." Everything is randomly ashy, or scummy or slicked with grease, for no particular reason. Random adjective generation. Not the mot juste or the unforgettable phrase, just a weird, disconnected word, or the unfathomable connection, chosen for its oddity value.

What especially annoyed me is that I think Cline thinks she is channelling Joyce Carol Oates' transcendent short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Oates' story reimagines the events surrounding a series of terrible murders of teenagers, by getting us into the mind of one of the victims, capturing perfectly the fatal ennui of a 15 or 16-year-old who is desperate to grow up, and leaves the constraints of her family behind. But she isn't as smart as she thinks she is. (And who was, at 15 or 16?, which is part of Oates' point.) Oates' story is weird and beautiful and utterly memorable, a masterclass in the way that a beautiful prose stylist describes ordinary things and everyday events so that you can never see them in quite the same way again. Cline describes things and events in such a way that makes me go, "huh?"
joann avatar reviewed The Girls on + 398 more book reviews
I started reading this as the intro made you believe that there would be more story that involved the famous ranch and the famous murderers. I really felt that the plot was more about teenage angst, with allusions to the minimal time Evie spent at the ranch.
The language was flowing and good and it was worth the read.
perryfran avatar reviewed The Girls on + 1173 more book reviews
I thought this was a pretty engrossing fictionalized account of the Manson family and how he was able to influence young girls to end up committing the vilest of crimes. The story is told from the perspective of a young girl, Evie Boyd, who sees one of the girls, Suzanne, at a park and becomes infatuated with her. She ends up traveling with her to the ranch compound where she ends up meeting Russell, the Charles Manson character, and the others including children and more young women who seem totally devoted to Russell. Evie lives in Petaluma, California, which is located near enough to the ranch where she can return home and make her mother believe that she has been staying with a school mate. However, at one point she goes with Suzanne and one of the other girls on a home invasion of one of her neighbors in Petaluma and is recognized by the owner. Her mother ships her off to stay with her father but Evie soon leaves and rejoins the "family" on the ranch. Russell is trying to get a record deal with Mitch (who is the fictionalized Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys - see more about him at this link and his relationship with Manson). Well the record deal falls through and that is when Russell sets his girls out to take revenge.

Overall, I found this novelization quite compelling. However, I wasn't sure why all the names were changed as well as the location. This novel takes place in Northern California while the actual ranch and murders of the Manson family took place in Southern California near L.A. I did like the way Cline used Evie as the narrator and how she was enraptured with Suzanne and the others. The story has alternating narratives between the present when Evie is middle aged to the past when Evie was 14 back in 1969. The novel does portray most males as pretty much without merit and easily manipulated by females. This was especially true for Mitch. Even Russell came across as pretty weak-minded and only out for himself. Being a male reader, I did not especially like that aspect of the story but I would still give this a mild recommendation. And of course it made me want to read more about the Manson family. I guess I'll have to read Helter Skelter at some point.
reviewed The Girls on + 12 more book reviews
This book was on almost every "best of" list for the year it was written. It is a fictionalized account of the Manson "family" murders. However, it is more a study of the personality type that would enter a "cult". It was not a detailed murder mystery novel. After reading, I did come away with a better understanding of the type of person that would "join" a cult and the background experiences of a person that would lead them to it. The book made me want to take a shower. Overall, it was a depressing read. The "girls" were used and abused.
jrburk avatar reviewed The Girls on + 26 more book reviews
Not my normal reading but I wanted to try something different. I do find I like new authors first books and this one did not disappoint. It is well written. Smooth easy read. Finished it in a day. Nothing profound in the story just well told.