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Gripping and full of suspense from the first page, Janelle Brown’s ‘Pretty Things’, is dark, gritty and sinister.
Written from the perspective of two central protagonists, Nina and Vanessa, in alternating sections, Brown creates believable and endearing characters. Whilst not immediately likeable, particularly Nina who you discover early in the novel is a con artist... the novel progressed I found myself developing a level of understanding and empathy for both women and their motivations, and was completely invested in their stories.
There were a lot of references to current culture, social media, trends and hashtags, which I enjoyed and made the novel more relatable for those who choose to read it now, but I’m not too sure that they will stand the test of time.
Whilst possibly best described as a thriller, the novel has other depths, with Brown introducing strong themes of loneliness, emptiness, ambition, deceit, revenge and self-worth that you find yourself reflecting on throughout the novel. With money, wealth and superficiality being a central focus of the novel, Brown causes you to question what it means to be wealthy, what lies beneath what we choose to reveal about ourselves and how we influence the perception of others. I should add trigger warnings here of both mental illness and mental abuse, which feature strongly within the novel.
Brown strikes a balance between dialogue and description, using suspense but allowing the novel to drive forward to a conclusion. My only criticism is that the plot itself was a little too predictable and I found myself guessing the twists and turns before they happened.
I’ve seen that there are plans to adapt this novel into a Netflix series, and very excited to see the result of this!!
"Nicole Kidman To Star In & Produce Series Adaptation Of Janelle Brown’s ‘Pretty Things’ For Amazon With Reed Morano Attached To Direct". This book is the perfect choice for a series. Developing the characters over many hours will help in their portrayal. The location, Lake Tahoe, is great. The ending will also be exciting. I enjoyed the surprises and twists, not really knowing how it would all turn out. I found myself switching sides frequently, not certain as to who to root for as they exposed their flaws. They dynamic between mother and child is an underlying theme which propels the women into their choices and finally, the action they ultimately take.
I picked this book on seeing that it was one of Amazon's top books of the year and it was a worthy choice. The story has good twists and surprises and kept me guessing. Scenic descriptions of Lake Tahoe, the claustrophobic ancestral home, the obsession with social media esp. Instagram, art and antiques, the vividly etched characters make for a great read.
I enjoyed the final 3 chapters of this book more than the rest of the book. The story moves at a steady pace with regular twists. There would be a few instances where you would have a smile at the smart nuances. Overall a good book for seasoned readers. May not be the right choice for new bookworms.
Use for lockdown reading. Started out very interesting but became rather predictable and the twists were blatantly obvious and poorly thought out. Ending was kind of a cop out too. Fun enough read though.