Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Source: ARC Received through my employer, Indigo Books and Music, Inc., in exchange for an honest review
My Rating: 2/5
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was. (Summary from Goodreads)
I wish more than anything that I was writing about how intriguing, exciting, and mind-blowing this book was. I wish I could sing it's praises. But, I can't. In fact, the longer I sit thinking about this book, the more frustrated with it I became. Because there was so much potential in this story. Or, should I say, retelling. And I think this is where the frustration begins. If Genuine Fraud had been marketed as a gender-swapped retelling of a certain famous book/movie and actually did something different with it's execution, I could have been behind it. If it had used this story line as a jumping off point to discuss gender, female friendships, and the perception of women, I would have been all about it. But, it wasn't. Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I want to start by saying: this wasn’t a terrible book. I know I rated it pretty low, but it wasn’t because of the writing, or the overall feel of the book. I definitely did find the pacing to be off at points, but my interest was definitely piqued at the start. That is, until this book started following a path I had already seen before.
In an effort not to spoil, I won’t say what book/movie Genuine Fraud mimicked. There’s lots of reviews on Goodreads that will tell you. Honestly, it felt like this book was just [redacted] with different characters, different cities, and told as a nonlinear narrative. As soon as I realized the comparison, the suspense immediately dropped off. I knew exactly how it would all play out, which completely took away the thrill. I hoped, even though I knew the plot, that there would be some deeper exploration at work. This book is gender-swapped (in terms of it's original premise) and E. Lockhart is a pretty feminist writer. I was hoping that this would be what it's all about: how women can treat each other, how society views and mistreats women, the psychological effects of obsessive female friendships. Sometimes I read lines that seemed to be going down that path but they were never followed up. Which made me sad about what this book could have been.
The thing is, if you haven’t read or seen [redacted] this book was good. An interesting unreliable narrator, the stirrings of obsessive friendship, and a mystery that unravels slowly all blended together to make for an intriguing read. Although I was frustrated, I definitely wanted to see how it would all played out. I’m not the type of reader that needs a definitive ending. I love an exploration of character, a slice of life with no beginning or end. But, it needs a little bit more in the middle, more depth for me to appreciate it. I feel like the focus on the plot, a plot I’d personally already seen, lost me. I just kept wishing for a bit more from this book.
On the positive side: I love nonlinear narratives, and I think Genuine Fraud did a good job using nonlinear narrative to its fullest potential. Each step back in time led to new revelations. Sometimes the revelations were small, sometimes much much larger, but they kept me itching to see what would be revealed next. Jule was interesting because you could never quite trust what she was saying. At the beginning of the novel, I was hanging on her every word, intrigued to see behind her mask. I liked pulling on the strings of the mystery, waiting to see what would come next. There were small details and lines that lit up light bulbs in my brain. Even though I knew the plot and that lessened the suspense, I was definitely intrigued to see how it would all unravel.
I adore E. Lockhart. My disappointment in this book is not going to stop me reading her books. She is a smart, talented writer. She often explores gender dynamics, which is why I was sad I didn’t see it more in this book. And, I wouldn’t say to skip Genuine Fraud. It wasn’t a book for me, in the end, but it was captivating at points. I know lots of people are going to enjoy it. I, unfortunately, just didn’t end up being one of them.
P.S. If you haven’t read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks yet, honestly get on that it is twenty shades of brilliant.