ARC Review: The Girl With the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: The Girl With the Wrong Name
author: Barnabas Miller
pages: 259
format: Paperback
isbn/asin: 978-1616951948
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5 (from hated to loved) or 7/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf, What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler, and other devious mysteries.
Ever since “The Night In Question” left her with a hideous scar and no memory of what happened, Theo Lane has been hiding. An aspiring filmmaker, she uses a hidden button cam to keep the world at bay. She spends the entire summer in a Manhattan café, secretly documenting random “subjects.”

Once school starts, Theo finds her best friend has morphed into a flirtatious, short-skirt-clad stranger. Everyone ignores the scar. As if that will make it go away. The café remains her lunchtime refuge.

Her most interesting subject is the Lost Boy, a stranger who comes in every day at the same time. When she finally gets up the courage to talk to him she discovers why: the Lost Boy, Andy, is waiting for someone who said she’d meet him there…four days ago. Intoxicated by Andy’s love for this mystery girl, Theo agrees to help him find her, and her unhealthy obsession pulls her into a perilous, mind-bending journey. But is it really Andy’s world she’s investigating? Or is it her own?

in depth

This is a solid read that's been undeservedly overlooked.  If you're craving a young adult thriller, dive right in.  The Girl with the Wrong Name is a fast-moving, tightly plotted mystery that delivers plenty of chills and a shocking ending.  From the start, it's clear that Theo is a little addled from whatever happened to her on "the night in question."  Somehow, that night, she received a scar--and a fervent desire to get outside of her own head.  A desire that leads her to a cafe and to Andy, an aimless boy waiting for a girl with whom he spent a dazzling, adventurous night.  A girl who was supposed to meet him days ago.  The mystery is a perfect mystery for Theo to pursue--one that, unlike her night, seems solvable.  

Theo is quirky (sometimes too much so) and intriguing, just snarky and unreliable enough to make for a great narrator.  She's got a photographic memory for wedding announcements and she tends to script her life in her own head, while it's happening.  She's also obsessive, a quality which outpaces her reason on numerous occasions and moves the plot forward in surprising ways.  I wanted to know more about her as much as about the mystery with Andy, because it's clear there's a lot bubbling beneath her surface.  Andy, too, is a puzzle--lost, lonely, obsessed with a girl he met only once. 

The story is a little incredible in the most literal sense, so I couldn't buy all of it--but most of it is still plausible enough to chill and mystify.  As Theo and Andy discover more about the mystery girl, the world seems to turn cartwheels around them.  How is the girl connected to a bride Theo read about in the paper?  Why does the girl seem to recognize Theo? Why are Andy's memories of the night he spent with the girl so fuzzy and confused?  The deeper Theo digs, the more the mystery becomes her singular purpose, until a streak of antidepressants and sleepless nights explodes into a truth so wild and shocking, you'd never realize it was based on a true story.  Sleuth that I am, I didn't even guess the whole of it.  

What makes the novel especially satisfying is the way Theo narrates.  Her voice is raw, a little too clever sometimes, gritty and irreverent and believably teenaged.  Her narrative is punctuated by recording and stop buttons, showing where Theo's filming starts and stops, how it frames her whole world.  As the plot thickens, Theo's narrative becomes frenetic, almost hallucinatory, and spins an atmosphere of dissolution that leaves you bristling with a sense of the uncanny.  

It's a book that requires some suspension of disbelief, but one that startles--and lingers.  

in a sentence

The Girl with the Wrong Name is a frenetic mystery that mystifies, deceives, and delivers a satisfying, shocking reveal.  


will i read this author again?  Yep, I really dig his writing style   
will i continue the series?  N/A  

Note: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected by stated opinions.

1 comment:

  1. Your review system is honestly so cool, CJ! It's great that you have a hated-to-loved system, and then an out of all the books I've ever read system - because I have some 5 star reads, but they still come as 8/10 on all the books I've ever read, for example!
    Love the use of the lemons to - so blog-appropriate! :D
    Thanks for reviewing, CJ - I'd actually never heard of this until now - will go check it out ASAP! :D