Personally, I found The Girl Before to be more suspenseful than The Girl on the Train (yes, I’m still hung up on how popular that book is). The Girl Before tells the story of two women living in an rented home. The home is in a great neighborhood and is cheap, but comes with a long list of odd conditions. If you’re like me and skip reading the chapter titles, you might get a little confused at first. It seems like the two women are applying for the same home and there will be some competition between them to get it. When I looked back at the chapter titles, though, there’s a “Then: Emma” and “Now: Jane” to make it clear that the title refers to Emma and the present is Jane. This makes it much more clear for the reader, but I still prefer my method of skipping chapter titles and figuring out what is going on as the story unfolds.
The home itself is interesting. It is stark, but technologically advanced. Only the essentials are in the home, no pets or children are allowed, no other furnishings are allowed than what is already provided with the house. The house measures your biometrics to adjust lighting to give you the best night’s sleep, provide you with the perfect shower temperature, etc. Occasionally, it asks you to complete questionnaires to ensure that it is best meeting your needs. Some functions (such as hot water) are disabled until the questionnaire is completed. It is a remarkable house, but it also makes many demands on its owner.
The architect is an unusual man, somewhat shrouded in mystery, with precise, exacting demands. He is the one who has the final say in who is allowed to rent the home. His character reminds me of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, except that Howard was more likeable.
I’m not going to give away too much of the plot. Basically, Jane moves into this house after undergoing a miscarriage and tries to figure out what happened to Emma. As always, it’s the journey that matters and I enjoyed some of the twists and turns in this one. I thought this book was better than The Girl on the Train. I particularly liked the idea of the house and the way the author slowly unraveled her characters’ personalities.
I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book will be released January 24, 2017.