Girl Squad

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This book had an interesting premise and the start of it was a good hook. I would recommend it for middle grade readers but not to any body above that level.
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A definite Nancy Drew feel to this as our trio of girl detectives try to help solve the mystery of Cal’s missing mother.
The late 1970s setting made sense for some of the attitudes expressed here. The small-town setting also explained some of the less open-minded views expressed towards Cal and her girlfriend, Jane.
The plot was definitely one to suspend disbelief on, but it was an entertaining enough read.
Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this.
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I thought it was okay. Like just fine. As a debut novel, it's a great start. There are some pacing issues and some issues with the kids getting away with a ton of stuff solely to make it through the mystery of the book. It is a bit of that old school style Scooby-Gang type mystery, but with a little higher stakes. I kind of had fun with that. The best part of the book, though, was the very sweet romance between Cal, our lead and narrator, and the beautiful Jane, our mysterious California girl. Because we see the story from Cal's point of view, we get to see her tripping over herself in her head to try and impress this beautiful stranger, and she doesn't quite get it yet. Rachel, the third person in the Girl Squad isn't really a third wheel, and often gets some of the best lines in the book. 

So, the pacing of the story is what really got to me. Cal is an energetic fifteen year old and we can see it when she jumps from subject to subject, especially when she is having trouble focusing on her new feelings around Jane, and her hurt when she discovers certain things about her mother, someone she looks up to. I think the worse parts are the weird time jumps. There are parts where it just cuts off and we open into a new scene. It was confusing, especially given that there was almost no explanation for the jumps. 

This YA mystery/ romance is a good read for those who like the old style Scooby Doo, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys mysteries. It's too bad its not as engaging as some of those mysteries could be. It does make up for it with Cal's seriously adorable crushing on Jane and Jane's comments that almost always go over Cal's head. I wish it gave more time for those two (and their interactions with Rachel who became a great ally).
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There was so much potential here!  The story takes place in the early 70s with the backdrop of OPEC and gas shortages across the country, yet that only sets up the B-plot (which is probably supposed to be the A-plot? maybe?) of an oil-gang siphoning gas to...resell at a nominal cost...?  With a title like "Girl Squad" along with the time period, I was hoping for something along the lines of Now and Then or a female-led Stand by Me.  Instead, this is more like a Nancy Drew/pirate mash up--but not the fun, sexy kind of pirates.  Actually, none of this book is particularly fun.  There is a sorta-romance that begins to develop at the beginning of the book, which becomes full blown out of no where towards the middle and in the final quarter of the book we take a strange pause from the oil pirate storyline to focus on this forbidden high school romance.  Everything about this book was just so disjointed, as though the author didn't quite know which story she really wanted to tell.  This has about as much realism as your typical Hallmark channel mystery movie but even if you suspend disbelief over the ridiculousness occurring on the page, there are bits that are so violent and dark which come out of no where and do not jive with the rest of the tone.  Disjointed is really the best way I can describe this book--oh, and disappointing.
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Girl Squad is a YA novel and is interesting. The characters are well developed and the book has a different storyline. I would read more by this author even though YA is not near my age.
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I received this ARC for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Thank you NetGalley!!

The main characters are 15 and 16, so i'd say this book is better geared towards young teens, which i am not that target audience.   I think that is the main reason  I didn't enjoy this as much as I'd like.   If i had read it while growing up, It probably would have been a hit for me. 
I'd label this as a mystery.     maybe a 2.5 star for me.
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This one is somewhere between The Five Find-Outers and Nancy Drew. The MCs are 15 and 16, so the target audience is not exactly YA. Given this context, it has the same simplistic approach and easy overcoming of impossibilities that those early detective novels had (which makes us wonder whether adults reviewing this novel is really a good idea). 

Set somewhere in the seventies (there is mention of the Stockholm Syndrome just having been introduced to the world, 2001: Space Odyssey, trying out for the 1976 Olympics) the book starts with Cal’s mom, Joyce, throwing her dad out and Cal’s life being upended. The three girls, Cal, her BFF Rachel, and new girl, Jane meet in a Bible camp. There is attraction between Jane and Cal right away and they spend quite some time together at camp. Cal doesn’t have the closest relationship with her mom, but doesn’t want to be with her dad either (the reason is never clear because her seems to be okay). One fine night, Cal’s mom disappears and her dad comes to get her. Instead Cal runs away to Jane’s place. The three girls set out to find Cal’s mom and keep getting deeper and deeper into a seemingly dangerous operation. In the meanwhile, Cal and Jane get closer and into a romantic and physical relationship (with the blessings of the BFF).

The ease with which the girls travel around, the lack of serious punishment for their transgressions (even coming in the way of law and breaking into a Ranger’s home), the complicity of at least some of the adults (Cal’s grandmom for example) et al are entirely the teen dream that make younger teens and kids think they want to be detectives. The romance is not really the focus of the book so the dewy-eyed sweetness of young love is missing.

The only issue dealt with some seriousness and depth is the way Jane’s mom reacts to Jane’s lesbianism and the showdown where Jane refuses to hide and be anything other than what she is.

This is definitely only for those between maybe 13 and 15 – and they will doubtlessly enjoy it – the mystery, the adventure and the tentative first explorations of sexuality.
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I hate to say this, but I had trouble with this read.  I would put this one solidly in the YA cozy mystery / romance category.  It wasn't a bad story, but just not my favorite type of novel.   I think that I would have enjoyed this more if I had read it while growing up, not as an adult.

It was startling to see a book with the town Dumas, TX in it.  Dumas is a town that I have driven through fairly often since it's the exact halfway point between my home in the Dallas area and my parent's home in Colorado.  Let me just say, there's nothing in Dumas.  Nothing.  It's a stretch of dirt these days, and I can't imagine how much worse it must have been back in the 1970's when this book was set!  Hoover did a very good job portraying the setting and I loved the details she added with the Schwinn bikes, the new invention of TV dinners, etc.  I felt like I stepped right back in time.

Now for the bad...  Unfortunately I had issues with MC Cal, and the whole book is told from her POV.  She came across as a typical 15 year old girl - she was very spastic and moody, and it caused me to feel like the this story was all over the place.  I really didn't feel any kind of connection between the mains either.  They went from barely kissing to jumping into bed at a lightening pace.  Typically I feel like YA novels give me that awwwww feeling, but this one just didn't.  I really felt like the pacing was off with regards to the romance and connection between the characters.

The mystery / adventure was well done and definitely was the part of this one that kept me interested.  I'm not sure how well I believed that a 15 and 16 year old could travel around quite so much and solve things better than the police though...  This one definitely requires a bit of suspended belief to get through.  

All in all, this one came in at a 2.5 for me, but I think others who like cozy mysteries may enjoy it a bit more than I did.

**Many thanks to Bella for providing me with an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.**
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