Hi everyone! Happy September! I’m sooo glad it’s finally Autumn, even though here in Scotland we haven’t really had a real Summer – we had a couple of really hot days in May and June but in July and August we’ve had a lot of rain, even a really bad thunderstorm that caused floods everywhere and another storm, Storm Francis, two weeks later! Autumn is my favourite season though, and I love the cooler weather. During the Autumn months I like to read books that give off an Autumn vibe, and for me that includes thrillers. And what better way to get into the Autumn mood than reading Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos which is released the day this review is posted! I really enjoyed my time reading this book, so I thought I’d do a little review (and try not to give away any spoilers!).
Title: Throwaway Girls
Author: Andrea Contos
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, LGBT+, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars – 7.71 CAWPILE rating
Synopsis: Caroline Lawson is three months away from freedom, otherwise known as graduation day. That’s when she’ll finally escape her rigid prep school and the parents who thought they could convert her to being straight.
Until then, Caroline is keeping her head down, pretending to be the perfect student even though she is crushed by her family and heartbroken over the girlfriend who left for California.
But when her best friend Madison disappears, Caroline feels compelled to get involved in the investigation. She has her own reasons not to trust the police, and she owes Madison — big time.
Suddenly Caroline realizes how little she knew of what her friend was up to. Caroline has some uncomfortable secrets about the hours before Madison disappeared, but they’re nothing compared to the secrets Madison has been hiding. And why does Mr. McCormack, their teacher, seem to know so much about them?
It’s only when Caroline discovers other missing girls that she begins to close in on the truth. Unlike Madison, the other girls are from the wrong side of the tracks. Unlike Madison’s, their disappearances haven’t received much attention. Caroline is determined to find out what happened to them and why no one seems to notice. But as every new discovery leads Caroline closer to the connection between these girls and Madison, she faces an unsettling truth.
There’s only one common denominator between the disappearances: Caroline herself.
As this is a thriller, I’m going to try and keep this review as vague as possible! Instead of trying to describe scenes, I’m going to first talk about things that I liked, and then about things that didn’t quite make it a five star read for me!
First of all, I loved the atmosphere in this book! Caroline attends a private school and it was so easy for me to picture the sprawling grounds and expensive campus in my mind whilst reading it, even though it’s an American private school and, admittedly, I’ve only seen a couple of Scottish private schools in the flesh! We also spend some time at a dingy bar and I think the atmosphere of a rundown, dodgy, roadside bar was captured perfectly! Without spoiling anything in the book, this was a common theme throughout and I think, especially for a debut novel, Andrea Contos did an amazing job with the realistic and gritty world building!
The second thing I loved, although I can’t really say much about it, was the plot! I read this book in two days and the first night I stayed up so late trying to read one more chapter before my eyelids got too heavy to continue, I was that invested in the story. I absolutely flew through the second half of the book the next day and, even though I always like to guess the big twist or reveal at the end, I never once got close to it in this one, and boy was I shocked!
I also really loved the characters, particularly the side characters. I loved Aubrey, who is so passionate and talented and an amazing actress. She was timid and always wanted the best for people, but when push came to shove, she was often Caroline’s best asset, so to speak. I also really enjoyed Jake’s complex character, with a difficult family background and yet a very privileged upbringing, he was, surprisingly, a character I cared a lot about.
However, saying that, I did have a couple of problems with the characters, which is one of two reasons this book is not a five star read for me. First of all, Caroline is a very privileged private school student. Yes, she does acknowledge privilege throughout, and yes she has been through some very, very tough times but she just didn’t feel believable. She felt like every other YA thriller main female character. There’s a scene in the book where Caroline and Jake are at a party thrown by some teenagers that go to another, not private, school. Somehow they manage to blend in, even though, if you’ve been to a house party with a private school student there, you know exactly how much they stick out like a sore thumb. Caroline also had this kind of grittiness about her which I feel didn’t really go all that well with her upbringing.
The other reason it wasn’t a five star was because some of the plot didn’t feel that well developed for me. Whilst reading it, particularly in the first half of the book, I felt that there were some loose threads with some of the evidence that Caroline found, and some of the places she visited. Particularly, when she met up with the headteacher’s wife – nothing really seemed to come of it. Also, with regards to the reveal at the end, there wasn’t really a motive as to why the person who did it, did it. It just felt like, oh here’s who did these bad things, let’s wrap it up nicely!
Regardless, this was one of the most gripping and interesting YA thrillers that I’ve read and I would definitely recommend that you pick it up if it at all sounds interesting to you! It’s a great debut and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for Andrea Contos’ other books in the future!