Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Girl in Snow Review & Giveaway!

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

When I first picked up Girl in Snow, I was expecting another quick thriller to add to the stack that I've flown through and raved about this summer. What I found, however, was not the heart-stopping, twisty novel that I've come to expect from the genre, but an astounding observation of human flaw. This is not a novel that had me anxiously awaiting the big twist (though there was somewhat of a twist involved), rather I found myself fascinated by Kukafka's treatise on human obsession.

Before I dive in, I should tell you that I loved the first half of this book, and it was in the second half that I realized it really hadn't been marketed correctly. I generally think of thrillers as the type of book that has you turning pages as fast as possible, but this novel had me soaking up the story in a different way. The novel is written from three perspectives: Russ, a cop with a hollow marriage, Jade, a bruised and resentful social outsider, and Cameron, the strange boy whose father committed the town's most scandalous crime. All three perspectives tell the story of the aftermath of the murder of. Lucinda Hayes. Lucinda was a popular high-schooler who was found murdered at the elementary school playground. It's a small town, and there are no witnesses and a long list of suspects. Instead of an investigation into the crime, however, we get more of a glimpse into the ruins of our three narrators' personal lives, and how Lucinda's death created further cracks in their relationships with others.

I mentioned that this is a novel about obsession. Russ is obsessed with his former partner, Jade with her former best friend, and Cameron with Lucinda. The level of obsession in this book is unhealthy -- in the way that the characters feel uncomfortable in their own skin, I started to feel uneasy as the obsession grew to increasingly disturbing levels. Despite it being an uncomfortable reading experience, I think that was Kukafka's aim here. I think she means for her readers to feel the same discomfort that her characters face, and if I'm right, then her ability to translate feelings across the page is superb. The only thing that I didn't love about this story was the plot -- the twist fell a little flat for me, but then again I was so disoriented from being inside the characters' heads that the twist didn't actually feel all that important to the book. The first thing that I always want in a book is a character to admire -- I didn't find that here. Nor did I find the plot to be a driving force, so under normal circumstances that might have led me to give it a lower rating, but the prose in this book was brilliant. Brilliant. It was one of those books that had me stopping to admire turns of phrase. 

The reading experience itself reminded me of how I felt when reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, during which I loved the style of writing -- it was prosaic -- but was so uncomfortable with the story itself (if you've read it, you can probably guess which part of the story I'm talking about) that I ended up with mixed emotions about the book as a whole. For a while I struggled to give this novel a rating because I felt divided on the concept of plot vs. prose. It was in talking to other readers that I realized this isn't actually a thriller -- not the type that I've come to expect, at least. I can see the reading experience being completely different for each reader, depending on your fascination (or ability to watch) characters descend into their own neuroses. The impact of this novel will drive me to read whatever Kukafka comes out with next, and I want to mention here that this is her debut. At twenty-four years old (we are the same age), I am somewhat in awe of her ability to write.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5


The lovely team at Simon & Schuster has offered to giveaway FIVE copies of Girl in Snow and Girl in Snow(globes) to readers of Top Shelf Text!

To earn ONE ENTRY:

Go to @topshelftext on Instagram and click on same picture as the one shown above.

Follow @topshelftext @simonbooks.

Tag two friends in the comments and tell me one book you're dying to read before summer ends.


Post this picture in your Instagram stories and tag @topshelftext.

Giveaway open until Friday, August 4th at 9pm EST. 

Winners will be randomly chosen and announced on Saturday, August 5th.

Good luck!

Title: Girl in Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2017
Price: $19 on Amazon
ISBN: 1501144375
Format: Ebook / Hardcover
Source: Net Galley / Simon & Schuster

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