#3 All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

Kindle | 385 pages

Published by: Corvus (2nd February 2017)

I’ve been wanting to read this forever, but I couldn’t find a hardback copy of it (as all my other Megan Miranda books are hardback, I didn’t want to break the trend.) So, I finally took the plunge and got it on Kindle instead. I was anxious in my ability to read this because I know the story is told in reverse. From the first few chapters I found myself committed to the characters and to the story as it unfolded.

I started reading this before Christmas 2019 and found it relatively easy to read. However, I stopped reading it over the Christmas break and came back to it in January 2020. I was so confused! Having forgotten how the story worked I read chapter eleven over and over with none of the words going in. I had to reacquaint myself with the plot and narrative and once I’d done that, my reading managed to progress at a steady pace, and I understood all that was happening.

Miranda has an uncanny ability to draw the reader fully into the character’s word almost from the first page. The characters she creates demand attention and you have to read the story without skim reading or skipping or you’re likely to miss something important. Nic made me feel many emotions, through the course of the story and as the past was revealed, I felt many things from Nic that guided me though the story at an alarming speed.

Nic is a character who has many layers and it was clear while reading it that I knew as little about Nic as she did herself. So much of her actions are based on paranoia or from past memories that may not be as clear as they were ten years ago. It is clear that Nic has PTSD from the disappearance of her friend Corinne, and that she has never dealt with that pain and tragedy but the way she acts within this story makes for a compelling read.

*Revision on Nic’s character as I’ve come to the end of the book – I underestimated her, and I underestimated just what control she had on this story. She’s a character with a big impact but as I read into the story, I didn’t see her as anything other than the central narrative and I think that blinded me to the reveal. I was surprised by the reveal and entranced by Nic and the others until the last page.

I was drawn into her world and I stayed for the entertainment. Beyond Nic, the characters of Daniel, Tyler, Jackson, Bailey etc. created a vivid picture of past events and kept me interested and guessing throughout the book. The characters appeared to me as very complex and very simple at the same time. I never knew quite what to expect from them and yet they stayed true to what I did expect from them. It was rather a bizarre reading in terms of connecting with the characters and learning about them. This reverse style story was a structure I haven’t read before, so I was definitely venturing into a new territory, but I think in terms of this story, that the structure worked exceptionally well.

It was also harder to route out the truth of the story with the reverse telling.

This was very easy to visualize. The story is character driven and the characters have such impact on the story that it was hard to see it unfold in any other way than from Nic’s perspective.

The story is very intensely driven by the chaos of the characters involved. There were so many moments that questioned where the story was leading me and how well I’d be when I got there. I think this book is very cleverly written and certainly the reverse storytelling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found that it offered a deeper glimpse into the characters in seeing the story in reverse. I think with this story, you have to be willing to read with an open mind and let the characters lead you on a merry dance.

I read this book in two sittings and found myself eager to discover all the secrets. The characters, especially those intimately involved – e.g. Nic, Tyler, and Daniel – fueled me with suspicion, suspense, mystery, paranoia, excitement, curiosity and determination. It was a full roller coaster book of emotions and thoughts, but I never once felt myself drifting or becoming bored with the characters or the storyline.

I really enjoyed the change in storytelling here and felt that it opened up avenues of thought that I haven’t had with other books. It made it a more complex read but also a more enjoyable one.

I had my suspicions on how well I would enjoy this book, based on the reverse storytelling but I needn’t have worried too much. I felt gripped to my seat while reading this but gripped in a way that was new and uncertain, rather than the run of the mill gripping feeling I get while reading most thrillers. There is something about the way Miranda writes that speaks to my reading soul in a way that makes the stories seem complicated but keeps the flow simple and smooth. The story felt ‘unique’ and I felt that what I read was accurately presented within the blurb upon the back. I would recommend this to others, not perhaps, as a dark and meaty thriller but as a binge worthy thriller that deserves a place on the shelves.

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