Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Review: Invisible Girl

By Jami Denison

Voracious readers have many authors for whom they will read anything the writer publishes. For me, Lisa Jewell is a first among equals. But I have to confess that when I read the Amazon summary of her latest book, Invisible Girl, I wasn’t excited. Centering on a socially awkward 33-year-old virgin male who gets sucked into the incel world, the blurb made the book seem dark and inaccessible.  But I had the opportunity to read it to review, and I’m so glad I did. The Amazon blurb emphasizes the wrong character and wrong elements. Invisible Girl is another compelling domestic thriller featuring relatable characters trapped in modern dilemmas. Jewell fans will be pleased.

The invisible girl is Saffyre Maddox; she’s a 17-year-old in a hoodie that no one seems to care about until she disappears. When she does, from a London street that already has had several sexual assaults, the prime suspect is Owen Pick. The would-be incel was the last person to see Saffyre, across the street from his home. Unbeknownst to police, Saffyre was stalking her former psychologist, Roan Fours, and his family. While all the evidence points to Owen, could the Fours family have more to do with Saffyre’s disappearance than it seems? 

Thankfully, this is not a story about a man being drawn into the incel community and the evil he commits; Owen is a socially awkward loner with a drinking problem but a good heart. His is not the only point of view; readers also get Saffyre’s story as well as Roan’s wife’s, Cate. While the three characters get equal playing time, Cate is the more traditional Jewell lead role, and she feels like the true center of the novel. A home renovation prompted Cate to temporarily move her family—Roan and teenagers Georgia and Josh—to an apartment in the city. She thought it was be a fun adventure, but the sexual assaults have her on edge, especially after one of Georgia’s friends was attacked. Previously suspicious of Roan’s relationship with Saffyre when she was his patient, the girl’s disappearance has her rethinking everything she believed about her family and the man across the street.

Jewell does a masterful job creating and developing these characters. Even Owen is surprisingly sympathetic on his worst days. The action marches along at a good pace, with Saffyre’s point of view describing the events that lead up to her Valentine’s Day disappearance, while Cate and Owen give before and after accounts. The only flaw in the storytelling I found was that a character who doesn’t appear until late in the drama (but is casually alluded to early on) turns out to play an important role.

Despite its Amazon description, Invisible Girl is not about a woman-hating incel and his victim. Another crown for Jewell, the novel will entertain fans with its heart-felt mystery and emotionally satisfying ending.  

Thanks to Atria for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Lisa Jewell:

1 comment:

Dianna said...

I didn't love this book. In fact, I almost forgot that I've read it -- had to go to Goodreads to check.