Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Book review: The Girl With No Past, Kathryn Croft

Kathryn Croft

"Years spent running from your past. Today it catches up.

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the fourteenth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly."

The Girl With No Past follows Leah, who is harbouring a dark secret. She leads a very hidden and frankly boring life, not letting anyone in or forming any supportive relationships and keeping herself to herself. It's clear she's doing this to punish herself for whatever happened in the past as she doesn't feel she deserves to be happy. 

The story begins with a car accident in which all the passengers of the car are killed, but Leah (who's driving) survives. Now, the accident does tie in with the end of the story, but I must admit it confused me slightly. I thought Leah's secret revolved around the car crash and that is what she is punishing herself for. In a way I suppose it is (I won't say anymore as I don't want to ruin a twist!) but it isn't the centre of her troubles or the sole reason behind her personality. I know this means that the actual reason should be a shocking reveal, but I actually found it more confusing than the build up to a great twist. 

There are plenty of dark characters in the story and there aren't any that really provide any light relief from the constant troubles Leah faces. Leah herself is a difficult and tormented character - constantly on edge, not wanting to speak to or befriend anyone and conducting the same, stable routine day-in-day-out. I found it hard to sympathise or relate to Leah in anyway, but it did make me eager to find out what had led her to feeling the way she does and just why she is so guarded all the time. 

For me, one of the strongest points of The Girl With No Past was the two different time frames it's set in. It is mainly set in the current day, but every few chapters it reverts back to Leah's teenage past, where you see her friendship with Imogen and Corey , as well as her budding relationship with new boy Alex. It's apparent from early on there's something not quite right with him, he is fixated on their teacher Miss Hollis, constantly saying how she's 'out to get him' and is a bitch because of it. The gang see that he starts to stalk her, wanting to freak her out and, in his words, teach her a lesson. Now, this might just be down to personality differences and me no longer being a teenager, but would you not want to remove yourself from that kind of situation asap?! Leah is fixated on Alex and ignores these weird habits, instead focusing on her love for him. I'm sorry, but no, get rid! It's obvious he has some problems and I found it infurating she's so quick to ignore them. Not only that, but Imogen and Corey agree with him and go along with whatever he says. Surely it's a bit too far? Fair enough have a moan, even call her names behind her back, but stalking her? Sitting outside her house? I found it difficult to not get frustrated by how easily led they all were and how not one of them stood up for themselves and told Alex what he was doing was wrong.

That leads me to the big secret Leah is hiding from her past. Now, don't get me wrong, it's bad. Really bad. and certainly I can see why she still feels guilty, years later because of it. However, I must admit it left me feeling a bit disappointed. The reason being that the horrible event isn't really Leah's fault at all. The others - Alex, Imogen and Corey are completely in the wrong and should be holding the same amount of guilt as Leah, but she didn't actually do anything that wrong. I don't want to say too much about what happens, but Leah is easily led and joins in because of peer pressure and her love for Alex, but as soon as she realises what is happening, she runs away. Granted, she should have called the police and again, I found myself annoyed at her inability to do anything, but she wasn't the one to blame. It becomes clear towards the end why she was being targeted by the emailer and not the others, but I didn't really buy it, it all seemed a bit far-fetched. However, I was surprised by the emailers identity, it really shocked me as I thought I'd figured out who it was, but I was completely wrong! That big twist was a great feature and one of my favourite parts of the story. 

So that's my honest thoughts on this book. I must say that although I've mentioned some of my reservations in my review, I did really enjoyed the story - it's fast-paced and absorbing and I raced through it, eager to see how it would end.  There's just a few things missing for me which meant I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other thriller/mystery novels I've read this year. If you're a lover of the thriller genre I'd encourage you to read The Girl With No Past, it's an absorbing story with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. 

*A big thank you to the publishers of Follow Me, Bookouture, for an advance review copy of the book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. 


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  2. Replies
    1. Yes - this was bothering me, too. :) His name was Adam.