Sex, freaks, no rock and roll

The Girl Before. Genre: thriller. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.69. ⭐️Stars from me: 1

When I was a kid a special type of books was very popular. The genre could be called romance with erotical scenes as the main reason for the books to be written. Housewives frantically exchanged those cheap paperbacks hiding them from kids and reading them by packs. The books contained no plot, no decent dialogues, no character development apart from characters being beautiful and having sex whenever the plot allowed.

Have modern thrillers taken the place of those books? Is there a target audience for whom certain types of books are produced? These audience oriented books contain a number of obligatory elements that are to be squeezed in regardless of the plot.

The Girl Before is a classic example of such a product. The story is so dumb its mere existence is possible only due to the real estate market being bad. The characters agree to follow the rules of a bizarre landlord because they can’t find anywhere else to live. Is the market in London really so bad or it’s just an invented factor?

Looks like the target audience of the book is supposed to be interested in:

  • What the characters are wearing. All of them, always, everywhere, in details; color, material, shape, size, texture. Nothing of it is related to the plot.
  • Men who serve as furniture for the book; “slick body under the shower water”.
  • detailed sex scenes.
  • OB visits, pregnancy tests, pregnancy symptoms discussed at length with no purpose for the plot.
  • Parenting problems not related to the plot.

While many books are infected with a certain set of words that authors think make the dialogues sound more natural, in case of The Girl Before the infestation is severe. At one point the word “somehow”, the most popular parasite, is used 4 times by different characters within one scene. The same happens with “that’s all” which is plopped at the end of a phrase regardless of the situation. Somehow it’s just another bad book that’s all. By the end of the book there’s a risk of developing a strong allergic reaction to the words due to overexposure.

The behaviour of the characters often doesn’t match the situation. “I can never say if you are joking” says a character to the one who never jokes. Another character keeps gulping down tons of sadistically cooked food. It can serve as a demonstration of personal traits when done for the first time but it keeps being repeated along the whole book, probably to make the book more salient; hey, the plot was dumb as were the characters, but they had sex and ate live fish so now the book is stuck in my memory.

Surprising as it may sound, there are still two good things to be thankful for. The first one is that narcissistic people and sociopaths are described quite well. I believe many people can benefit from learning what those disorders are and how they manifest themselves.

The second nice thing happens in the audiobook. A complete silence is used to illustrate a situation. The silence creates such a powerful effect that I listened to it several times. I’ve never rewound any record before to listen to its silence. That silence is a brilliant idea. I hope more audiobooks will pick up this tool.

With this book I’m putting on hold my reviews of thrillers. I need some literary detox. There will be one more thriller-related rant but otherwise better books will be discussed. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Sex, freaks, no rock and roll

    1. Really happy you laughed! I am trying to keep my respect for the genre. In fact, I managed to read two decent thrillers since then. I think it is, indeed, a very popular type of books and that’s why it’s hard to find a really good one. Do you know any good one?

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      1. I think it depends on your definition, I tend not to put books into categories other than ‘Liked’ and ‘Didn’t Like’!
        Are crime stories thrillers? I like both Michael Connelly and John Connolly, who is crime/dark.
        I also think Stephen King is a genius, a story teller of immense talent, and not just his horrors. Dolores Claiborne, for example, is immense, but I don’t know if it is a thriller.
        In my own quite different style I suppose some of my stuff could be categorised thus, from my very short fiction to novellas.
        But I should not even be in the same blogosphere as the above mentioned!
        Good luck in your search.

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