As you may remember, a few of months back I finally gave into the hype and read The Wife Between Us. The first half of the novel had me completely hooked – I was so sure it will be my favorite thriller read for 2018. But then it hit a wall with the second half by being too much like The Girl on the Train! So while the internet was going crazy over An Anonymous Girl, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump on the bandwagon at first. However, now having devoured the book in two sittings, I’m glad the curious side of my brain won this particular tug of war against my skeptical side! 😀
In An Anonymous Girl, Jessica Farris is a twenty-eight-year-old who had moved to the bustling New York City to become a makeup artist. But before her career could take off in Broadway, something that happened to her had left her scarred, making her move out of the theater scene and join BeautyBuzz app company freelancing her services. It is how Jess meets Taylor, one of her clients at NYU who gets called for a psychology study during a makeup session. Knowing Taylor isn’t the kind of girl who’d bother to keep her appointment after a night of partying, Jess decides to take Taylor’s place in the study instead, which doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Jess thinks all she will have to do is spend four hours answering a simple questionnaire and get a handsome paycheck in the end. For Taylor, $500 the study pays is not be a big amount, but to Jess who is secretly taking care of some of the medical bills of her special-needs sister, this extra money is bound to go a long way.
Ironically enough, the study Jess sneakily signs up for turns out to be one about ethics and morality. Jess gets assigned a number at the beginning – she is Subject 52 – and all she is expected to do is answer the questions that would appear on her isolated computer terminal as truthfully as possible. But these aren’t easy questions – they are invasive and requires respondents to dig deep. Also since Dr. Shields, the principal investigator of the study monitors Jess through a one-way mirror, she isn’t able to get away with lying.
From the start, I was drawn to this unique, twisted tale. I would not have been comfortable with revealing my innermost thoughts to a stranger I’ve never met, however to Jess, money is a big motivator to remain on the study. So Jess agrees to one-on-one sessions with Dr. Shields, even when she has to comply with Dr. Shields’s bizarre requests. But by the time Jess deduces Dr. Shields’s motive behind her “real-life psychological experiments,” it might be too late for Jess to save herself!
An Anonymous Girl is a chilling thriller that kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time I read it. The narrative alternates between Jess and Dr. Shields. And oh boy, reading Dr. Shields’s chapters made me understand why Jess was so drawn to her! Dr. Shields is a successful individual in her field whose sheer presence demands respect, and she is everything a young girl like Jess aspires to become. Also, plot-wise the meticulous planning of Dr. Shields who radiates intelligence (although highly disturbed) made the narrative extremely compelling – there were so many ways Dr. Shields reminded me of Gone Girl‘s Amy Dunne! So if you are a fan of Gone Girl/ masterful plotting I urge you to try this stellar novel! I doubt you’ll regret it! 😀 4 stars.
Note: Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a review copy of An Anonymous Girl.