Friday, 27 July 2018

THE FAVOURITE SISTER - by Jessica Knoll

THE FAVOURITE SISTER - Jessica Knoll
Published: May 2018 - Simon Schuster.
Genres: Adult / women's fiction / contemporary / thriller
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual content / strong language / mature / adult themes
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder… Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates. Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret. Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Love the cover, love the premise, and I expected to love the inside of this book as much as I did the outside.


The writing is fair. Knoll writes well, and she digs very deeply into what's happening in the scene. Honestly, though, I found it too much. There is so so so much going on in one scene, all of it muddled together in a heap of back story, character perception, and action and heavy dialogue, that it drags you under. It's like the author's diving into her story, but it's not translating well from her head to the page. She doesn't explain well what's going on, she doesn't centre the scene, and the scene lacks structure completely. It's information and internal monologuing and dialogue and thick flashes of history and every scene just seems to merge into the next. Sure, maybe that's just Knoll's style, but for me it doesn't work. It's too much. I was confused and weighed down.

The writing is also very Devil Wears Prada-esque, if you know what I mean: detail by detail description of the clothes the characters are wearing,their personal history, the food, the characters' expressions, etc etc.... All this heavy info that doesn't actually serve a purpose. It doesn't play a significant role in the story, and it doesn't even flesh out the characters because it's too vague and random and inconsistent.

The plot is slow. It's vague. It's hard to follow, and I found it boring because I couldn't get a grip on anything. Having expected a tantalising, scandal oozing murder thriller, I was extremely disappointed. It doesn't even feel like a thriller; that aspect totally escaped me. Most of the book simply feels aimless and tedious.

It wasn't until I admitted to my own place in the {abuse and trauma} cycle that people gave me the respect I always knew I deserved. And now that I have it, I can't stop wondering why it is that for a woman's work to be taken seriously, she has to bleed first? and why I was so quick to open a vein?

The thinking that women of all shapes and sizes can be beautiful is still hugely problematic, because it is predicated on the idea that the most important thing a woman has to offer the world is her appearance.

The patriarchy survives so long as women are pitted against one another. It is a threat to a man’s way of life when women gather, when they question the status quo, and when they inevitably start to resist it.


The cast is too big. It also doesn't help that almost everyone is introduced at once. I never got a clear idea of who any of the female leads were, and so I couldn't care about them. In addition, they monologue on for pages and make abstract observations of each other, but none of it ends up meaning a thing. It may thicken up the story, but its relevancy was lost on me. It's all white noise.

The one thing this book does do right, however, is dig into topical issues with searing scrutiny. It speaks volumes about women, intersectional feminism, and the sexism in our society. It talks of diversity, social media, and positive and negative relationships in all their messy glory. It does make some good points; if only those points had been lifted up out of the cluttered writing.




The Favourite Sister is well written, and it's packed with many bold, powerful messages. But there are too many characters, the writing is often too busy, and the plot is painstakingly slow and muddled. 

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