Review: Reckless Girls

Title: Reckless Girls
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

I’m a couple of weeks overdue on this review, but life has been insanely busy and I haven’t had the time to sit down and write out my thoughts about this book! I read The Wife Upstairs by the same author last year, and I really enjoyed how it was a modern take on Jane Eyre with a messy protagonist and much more feminist take on “the happy ending”. This book also features a pretty messy protagonist and an unconventional resolution, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. I don’t think you’re really supposed to like most of the characters in this book, but the levels of douche-baggery and betrayals were off the charts, which made it hard to root for anyone.

I think the main reason I didn’t get totally sucked into the book was I was expecting the dangers or mysteries of the island to bring out the bad in everyone, especially since the book is peppered with written accounts of other visitors to the island. Instead, these people were rotten to begin with, and the island had very little to do with anything besides being a more interesting location than a small town or a vacation home.

The book is mainly told from Lux’s perspective, a young woman who thinks she has found the love of her life and is saving up for their new life together so that she can escape her traumatic past. Her boyfriend, Nico, comes from a rich family but ran away and won’t accept any financial help from them because he’d rather “make it on his own”, a sore spot for Lux who has no family or inheritance to fall back on. That’s just the beginning of their differences though, and as they spend more time together on the island, Lux begins to wonder how well she knows Nico after all.

Amma, Brittany, Jake, and Eliza, each have their own secrets and twisted reasons for being on Meroe island. Lux is perhaps the only one out of all of them who wasn’t planning on doing something shady on the island, but even she is not a paragon of virtue. I did enjoy seeing her get sharper throughout her adventures on the island and discarding the parts and people in her life that were holding her down with guilt, grief, or self-doubt. Lux becomes a metaphorical knife, a far cry from the idealistic woman from the beginning of the book.

While the path to get there was rocky, I did think the ending was fitting: empowering but in a twisted sort of way. A lot of the characters in this book have been hurt by others, and tell themselves that they have good justification for the morally questionable things they are planning to do. No one here is purely evil, they are either hurt and lashing out or privileged and oblivious/self-centered.

If you were looking for a character study that happens to include some murders on a mysterious island, this book is for you. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, tense murder mystery or a story that uncovers the secrets of a mysterious island, this isn’t it. In the end, the island is just a backdrop for the complexities of the titular reckless girls.

A free review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s