Cover Image: The Eighth Girl

The Eighth Girl

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Brilliant, twisty thriller. I enjoyed the duel narrative & found Alexa a very compelling and sympathetic character. It's also a devastating portrait of childhood sexual abuse, the exploitation of women & the consequences. Highly recommended.
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Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this arc. DID is one of my favourite things to read about; its such a fascinating disorder. I absolutely adored Split with James McAvoy, and movies like Primal Fear and Identity, so when I saw that the author is a therapist herself and is trying to write an accurate portrayal of the condition I was drawn in and intrigued. However this book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I felt tonally this was all over the place. 
The beginning just failed to draw to hook me. The novel opens with a woman who can hear voices about to kill herself and wondering how she got there. Then the story rewinds back and we meet Alexa who has DID. Only her stepmother, her best friend Ella and her therapist Daniel know about her condition. When Ella gets a job at a seedy club Alexa finds herself drawn into the dark and seedy world of London...
The novel has sex trafficking and rape scenes, so trigger warning. 
I just couldn't get into this book. The writing was boring and the characters failed to engage me. There was very little suspense. The twists at the end were cliched in my opinion. I'm afraid its 2 starts from me.
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Split personalities is a concept I found fascinating and devoured thrillers that use this trope, such Sidney Sheldon's Sweet Dreams and the movies Identity and Primal Fear. Thus I had high expectations for The Eighth Girl. Unfortunately for me it fell flat. 

The book follows two narrators: Daniel, who is a therapist, and Alexa Wu his patient who has split personalities. Daniel is divorced and trying to move on, but is intrigued by Alexa, and Alexa gets a job at an erotic club called the electric when her best friend starts working there and gets sucked into London's seedy underworld scene...Alexa finds herself confronted by her traumatic past when confronted by dangerous situations...

Part of the problem with this book was that while the prose was fast to read through, the pacing was off. There wasn't much suspense and I wasn't engaged with the characters and the story. A few of the twists at the end were quite predictable and use tropes quite common in this genre. Daniel was a bland character. I cringed whenever he noticed Alexa's skirt rising up and the flash of her skin. This is definitely not The Silent Patient, which was an incredible novel. I felt that the plot was all over the place with trigger warning themes of sex trafficking, rape and assault.
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I received this book free as an ARC from Net Galley. All opinions are my own.

The Eighth Girl is a psychological thriller about a girl with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) who has had a traumatic past and is struggling to keep control over her life. She gets stuck in a world of seedy, dangerous dealings and must remain in enough control to get out safely. I have the most conflicted feelings towards this book and it's a bit of confusing mess. This book had me up and down like a yoyo and it's difficult to clearly display my thoughts. There are many disturbing topics in this book written in great detail, so please beware these triggers. 

Trigger Warnings: Sexual Abuse, Parental Abuse, Paedophilia, Rape, Sex Trafficking, Grooming, Suicide, Self Harm, Controlling and Manipulative Abuser, Cheating, Sexual Pressure, Alcoholism and Addiction, Racism (especially Asian) etc. 

The beginning, let's start there and talk about the pacing. I was very interested in reading a book with a DID character and was hoping it would be realistic. (I will have to do some research of reviews to see what own voices think of this.) At the start I was... bored. It didn't hook me at all and felt slow. The book had an ominous vibe throughout and I was unsure what it was leading to (not much). I had to review it though so I kept going. It started to get more exiting and really picked up. Towards the end, I felt like I was almost enjoying it, although it had it's issues. It built up and up until the plot twist where, (no spoilers) I was so thoroughly confused, let down and annoyed. It was written in a confusing way and I frequently had to go back and reread to check what the authors was trying to say. When I did figure it out pages later with more context, I felt pissed. The twist was so cheap and stupid. I didn't see it coming at all which I guess is suppose to be a good thing, but wasn't. I probably should have seen it coming, but I really thought this book wouldn't go there. It was so typical and dramatic and annoying. The author tried to explain it and I felt like I got it but I was still disappointed. My emotions were up, down, up, down. Honestly I've never been more conflicted about a book. Once the dust settled I was left with a cheap, disappointed feeling and overall was not happy with the book and its ending. 

Other than the twist I had other issues. I felt like the book had a weird vibe that never really resolved itself. Like a promise of something bad happening in one place that never came. I also felt the writing was confusing and maybe it was suppose to be, because our main character was, but it didn't help the reading experience. There were many times the characters decisions didn't make sense and there seemed to be a lack of logical thinking. The characters were suppose to be dysfunctional but it was still annoying to witness them make stupid decisions. There were subplots and character developments that went nowhere and just disappeared, never to be brought up again, let alone resolved. The main characters we should be routing for were so unlikeable at times and I never really got what their intentions or motivations were.

There were things I did like. I like the idea of representing a person with DID. (Although the ending did cheapen that for me.) Our main character has been though such a difficult past and I thought looking into that trauma was interesting and sad. Once the book picked up I was enjoying it for a short time. I liked the danger and looking into serious issues such as trafficking and the many grotesque things that accompanied that. Abusing underage girls, sexual oppression, racism, paedophilia and more. The serious topic was handled well and was uncomfortable to read (which it should be.) The racial slurs and abuse felt realistic and heartbreakingly sad.  I was enjoying the take down plot and routing for it to succeed. For a while I thought this book had tackled such an important topic well and was enjoying the plot and characters. I wish the book had focused more on that and not on the cheap thriller twist. It could have been a great story but focused on the shock value and surprise twist, devaluing the DID aspect of the book. I also like the photography interest our main character had. 

All in all, this book could have been a real look into sex trafficking, trauma and many important and vile topics in this world with a dangerous take down plot and a DID hero. That was not this book. This book was a confusing mix of things, none of which were pulled off and just left a disjointed, disappointing end. It's a real shame because there was a lot in this book that should have shone, but unfortunately this book was a cheap, shock thriller that is all over the place.
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Oh wow. I feel like I am going to need some time to recover after finishing the Eighth Girl. A novel where the main character has dissociative identity disorder is quite uncommon, a novel where the character has DID and it is done well is rare, a novel where the character having DID isn't the entire plot line is unheard of. Initially I was slightly concerned - would the different personalities be different enough to make them stand out or would they all blend into one, ill-defined 'crazy'character? I shouldn't have worried! Maxine Mei-Fun Chung writes her characters with such care and tenderness, it is almost like she is just describ8ming her real friends and the way she integrated them was perfect. Alexa, the host for all of these personalities and her best friend Ella get involved in the murkey underworld of Sex Clubs and human trafficking, making for an impressive and tense thriller with several gasp-inducing twists!

I really enjoyed how chapters alternated between the unreliable narrator of Alexa and her personalities, and her Therapist, who despite his own issues, is seemingly more reliable. The alternating voices made it very easy to read and made me want to keep going. 

This debut is a shocking and breath taking masterclass in characterisation and plot development. A dizzying thriller with a satisfying ending.
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This was an exciting thriller that started of as a literal rollercoaster and never slowed down. The characters were well drawn and the storyline flowed seamlessly. Highly recommended!
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At first, I was not quite sure about the direction this book was heading in. However, as I continued to read the plot was becoming clearer, unravelling piece by piece until I felt sure how it was all going to end. 

Wrong ! as the story-line unfolded and "the flock" became less clear, I knew it was all heading towards a completely different ending that what I had expected. 

With so many twists & turns, this book left you guessing and wondering what was true & who or what to believe !

Overall and intriguing look into the world of Dissociative Identity Disorder and all of it's complexity.
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