The Girl Before features two women who move into the same house, years apart form one another. Emma, who lives there first, ends up dying under mysterious circumstances. The case can’t conclusively decide whether her death was an accident, a suicide, or murder. Jane moves in a little more than a year later, after the apartment had been vacant for a year. As she gets settled in, she learns about Emma, and starts doing a little digging into her death. She quickly comes to find that Emma looks a lot like her, and that they both had relationships with the same man – the architect of the house.
One Folgate Street is an architectural masterpiece. It’s entirely integrated with technology, and is a beautiful home. That said, in order to live there, there are 200 rules that the tenant has to abide by. Yes, you read that right. 200! Including no books, pictures, or personal items. In addition to agreeing to the rules, in order to live in the apartment, tenants have to fill out a long survey, send in pictures, and complete an in person interview before getting approved. Why anyone would agree to all of that is beyond me. Give up my books?! No, thank you.
The Girl Before is positioned as a thriller, though personally, I found it really slow moving. I didn’t dislike the build up, but the story didn’t feel like a thriller at all (and barely even felt like a mystery) until more than 70% into the book. Details and revelations come very very slowly, and leave the reader little room to guess what happened and what the end of the book would entail.
What I did enjoy reading about were the details of the house. While I could never in a million years live in a house with that many rules, the technology the house employed was amazing. Windows that automatically darkened depending on the time of day? Shower heads that were responsive by person and knew the exact water temperature you liked? Yes, please!
I also enjoyed that the story alternated between Emma and Jane, so we were able to understand both women and what happened to them as it was happening. That said, their voices sounded identical. It was really difficult to tell them apart, and I found myself flipping back and forth to chapter titles so I could remember whose part I was reading a few times.
All in all, I did like the book. I loved the twists and turns that happened in the last 30% of the book. I felt like that’s when it really turned into a thriller! The resolution was great, and I really loved the ending and final revelations! If you’re looking for a book that’s instant action from page one, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re comfortable with something slow building but interesting and willing to wait a while for the action, definitely pick this one up!
The Girl Before will be released on January 24, 2017. Thank you to NetGalley, J.P. Delaney, and Random House Bellantine for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.