Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in “The Girl on the Train” and “Luckiest Girl Alive”, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.
All the Missing Girls is the 3rd book in the 5 chosen for Simon & Schuster’s Summer Fiction Blog Tour. It was the one I was most hesitant about picking up, since I have become fatigued by the influx of the “girl” thriller books. However, there is a letter from the Executive Editor at the start saying this book is told backwards. “After the setup, the story jumps ahead fifteen days and then counts down, day by day, until you reach the beginning again.”
This “original narrative feat” was one I was intrigued by and wanted to see how it would play out. Would it be as original as it is said to be and would it leave me guessing until the very end? Now, I know I am seriously in the minority with my opinion, but this one just didn’t work for me. The appeal, or the interest for the story being told backwards turned out to be somewhat confusing for me, and I found it too odd to follow along.
And *shrugs*, I found this to be predictable, and saw where it was leading from the beginning. I think I found it this way because it was coming in the long line-up of the (missing, gone, mean, dead, murdered) “girls” books or the Girl on the Train books with the hint of this unexpected “twist” at the end. Gone Girl and Girl on the Train have already trained me to spotting, or anticipating these types of “twists” with their unreliable cast of characters. All the Missing Girls turned out to be a “been there, done that” kind of experience for me.
But, again, I am in the minority here, there is a lot of buzz about this book and the feedback is very strong concerning everyone’s enjoyment! I am most appreciative as well that the author, Megan Miranda, has taken time to answer a few questions posed about All the Missing Girls and the challenges she faced when writing a book with a reverse storyline.
1.) What was the writing process undertaken for writing a story in reverse? Was it always planned to be written that way? What was the starting point, or inspiration for wanting to write the story that way?
Yes, I had planned for it to be written in reverse from the start, as sort of an unwinding of a mystery. The story idea and the structure developed side by side. I started the story with the character, Nic, and knew she would be piecing through her past to finally gain an understanding of things. I wanted the structure and story to reflect each other in that way, with each step back peeling away another layer or motivation, to come away with a better understanding of the events in both the past and present.
2.) What were the challenges you faced when writing All the Missing Girls in reverse?
I wrote it in the order it’s read, so each time I figured something new out, everything I’d already written could be affected. There was a lot of editing in the earlier sections as the story progressed. I was also trying to walk the line between what the narrator knew at any given time and what the reader knew, staying true to both in each section.
3.) What were the persons of reference you drew from when creating your characters? Did you start out wanting them to be all unreliable?
I didn’t set out to write unreliable characters, but I did intend for them to keep secrets from one another, each of them suspicious of what the others were hiding, and why. I started with the characters at 18, when Corinne disappeared. From there, I tried to imagine what would happen to each of these characters after ten years of holding their own secrets, or hopes, or fears. And those are the characters I began the story with, in the present.
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