All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Favorite Line: “People were like Russian nesting dolls—versions stacked inside the latest edition. But they all still lived inside, unchanged, just out of sight.”
*mild spoilers..no major plot ones, but I do talk about the characters, which is somewhat of a spoiler. Sorry.
Man . . . cannot learn to forget, but hangs on the past: however far or fast he runs, that chain runs with him.
Time. Time is important, but it’s not real. It’s only real because we make it real, but without us time doesn’t exist. This was, more or less, the philosophy of Mr. Farrell, Nicolette Farrell’s father, this is the philosophy Nicolette grew up with, until all the bad happened. Until she left her small town without the intention of coming back.
Years later, she returns to help her brother convince their father that now is the time to sell their old family home, she knew it would be a struggle, but what she got was much more than she anticipated. Not only was she struck with the memory of her high school best friend, Corinne, who had gone missing in the woods years ago and never found again, but she was also thrown into the case of another missing girl, Annaleise Carter, who happened to be her next door neighbor and her ex-boyfriends newest fling.
The book starts off as Nicolette (Nic for short) is leaving her Philadelphia apartment and her fiancé to drive down for the summer to her hometown to help her brother with their family issues. That’s day 1. On day 1 she see’s her brother, moves into her old house, plans on visiting her father in the nursing home, and sees her ex-boyfriend Tyler and his new girlfriend–it was a busy day. The next chapter is day 15–Annaleise has been missing for 2 weeks, Tyler is a suspect for murder, her father keeps muttering about “seeing that girl on the porch,” and the police are asking Nic too many questions. From there the book works backwards day-by-day until slowly the truth about everything, and everyone, unravels.
“It is quite true what philosophy says; that life must be understood backwards.
Phew. This book was a roller-coaster (pun intended as a lot of it revolves around the county fair). First of all, I absolutely LOVED the plot setup. Working your way backwards is a rare form of storytelling, but here it worked perfectly. It’s really fun and interesting meeting characters for the first time after you already saw them in action.
Everyday we find out more about the different connections in the town, about Annaleise, and about Corinne. Slowly we figure out the timeline, and slowly we figure out that there are way more puzzle pieces than expected.
Ok. Let’s talk about characters. There are quite a few, but I’m only going to talk about 3 because any of the other ones would lead to spoilers.
Nic –she’s kind of a hot mess, and she doesn’t let on to most of what she’s thinking or feeling. The story comes from her point of view, so we are inclined to understand her emotions and actions more than others, but had she been a side character, I don’t think I would have been as empathetic toward her. When I finished reading and reflected on the story, I found myself more and more upset with her than with any other character. She is a victim, in a sense, but some of her actions are quite stupid.
Tyler — I liked Tyler…most of the time. I feel like he tried many times to do what needed to be done, and to be a good man, but he just fell short more times than not. He also made some stupid choices and he was so completely infatuated in Nic, it became a little ridiculous…I mean, this guy had it bad.
Daniel — Daniel is Nic’s brother and they have a strange, secretive relationship. However, he was extremely protective of her, to the point where he would hide horrible things just to keep her safe. He is also hard to understand because he doesn’t say much, but what he doesn’t say is important.
These three are intertwined in multiple ways. Nic and Tyler used to date, Nic and Daniel are siblings, Tyler and Daniel are friends (possibly best friends), Daniel hates Tyler dating Nic, Nic and Daniel have an odd love/hate relationship. However oddly related these three are, they are loyal to the death, which really makes the story come together and give you insight to the events. Their loyalty to each other is extremely important, and this story shows it so well.
These three try to run from time, they try to erase time, they try to fast forward time, they try to hold on to time–they try to do everything but allow time to take it’s course, but even with their best efforts, time seems to take revenge on them.
“There is nothing more dangerous, nothing more powerful, nothing more necessary and essential for survival than the lies we tell ourselves.
Um, Megan Miranda, did you grow up in a small town? I would almost be willing to bet money that you did (almost, don’t get any ideas), because you describe what it’s like to live in one so well that I would be shocked if you grew up somewhere like New York City. I know authors are supposed to blend in to any situation, but there’s are some things you only gain through experience. Her description of the setting is perfect–I felt like these were people and places I knew well.
My main problem with this story was the ending, mainly the “3 months later” section. I don’t want to give anything away, but I thought the ending was complete B.S. and it really made me angry. The other problem I had with it was the character of Everett. He was an excellent character and was, perhaps, the most victimized out of all of them. He is really the only completely innocent character and he gets the short end of the stick. Furthermore, I didn’t like how he was given an “aggressive” side at the end since there was nothing aggressive about him until that point–it seemed to try to justify him getting completely screwed over, but it didn’t work for me.
Other than those final points, I found this novel to be excellent. I’m excited to read the second book of this series, although (correct me if I’m wrong) I believe it’s a completely different story, just a similar type of story.