Trigger warning: Suicide.
Wow. So I had inklings this one wasn't going to go well with the pop up questions and people waiting on me to finish this on Goodreads. BTW, thanks for not giving a heads up on how bad this was going to be people! I was looking for a slow burn psychological thriller and this turned into nothing that made coherent sense with the women going to increasingly lengths for men or over secrets that would have people going who cares.
"An Anonymous Girl" has 20 something year old Jessica Farris who is struggling to make ends meet as a makeup artist. She had hopes of being part of the theater world and when those ended she works for a company that has her going to clients to do their make-up. While waiting to finish up a client she hears her turning down a study over the phone that would entail $500. Jessica we now know needs money and she decides to show up in Jessica's place to get the money. Jessica finds herself as part of a study of ethics and morality and quickly becomes obsessed with Dr. Shields (the person behind the study). She finds herself wondering what would Dr. Shields do in situations that she finds herself and then wonders if Dr. Shields is being truthful or wants something else from her after Dr. Shields offers Jessica a chance to meet and become even more involved with the study.
If the book had just kept us following Jessica it would have worked better. Or even if the authors had chosen to keep Dr. Shields as more of the omnipotent narrator it could have worked. I am guessing since this book has two authors, one person wrote the Jessica POV's and the other wrote Dr. Shields. Eventually Dr. Shield's mask falls off (Part Two and beyond) and she became pathetic. Jessica was already dancing in that category so we just ended up following these two as they try to outsmart each other. I yawned through the whole thing until Game of Thrones. I put the book down, and picked it back up after that terrible finale and went to bed discontented.
Jessica has a lot of issues. We find out that through this study she is finally being truthful about things she has kept hidden. There's a lot of resentment towards her supposed best friend around money. We know that Jessica has a lot riding on her getting funds for her family. That said, she was just there as a vessel to be filled. I was hoping that the authors would have Jessica turning into a female version of Joe from "You." But no such luck. Also what freaking ethnicity is Jessica supposed to be? At one point she's described similar to another character and she's white, but we have a whole line about Jessica's skin being darker than Dr. Shields (who is also white). I went what for a second and moved on.
Dr. Shields at first seemed kind of bad ass and scary. And then she gets increasingly lame as her POV's go from being written as an outside observer to a study to something else. The ending for her was such a cop-out though that I rolled my eyes. Her supposed whys behind things made zero freaking sense.
We have one main man in this who doesn't seem worth the bother at all. And we have Jessica trying out a fledgling relationship that I wish had been focused on more.
The writing wasn't very good. I started going dun dun dun after a few sentences because that cracked me up and also distracted me from the terrible writing. Also Jessica's POV at times is written in the first person and then we have omnipotent Dr. Shields and not omnipotent Shields. It got confusing as hell.
"It was the question you didn't answer, though, the one you struggled with as you scraped at your nails, that holds the most intrigue. This test can free you, Subject 52. Surrender to it."
Oh I forgot to mention that Dr. Shields calls Jessica Subject 52 through most of her narration. This was supposed to sound foreboding I guess.
"You stand out, and not only because of your unconventional beauty.
From every angle, you are enchanting."
Oh yes, Jessica is an unconventional beauty. And Dr. Shields is also beautiful. Apparently plain women don't exist in New York.
The flow becomes pretty bad and it's hard to keep straight who is lying to who about what. We have reveals galore coming at us fast through Part Three and you don't even have enough time to wonder if the reveals made sense. To me they didn't when I re-read some parts. We think we know Dr. Shields's motivation. When we initially find out what it is I went seriously. Then we find out it's something else, but maybe it was the first one, or maybe not. Eh. It just ping-ponged back and forth. Why Dr. Shields decides to focus in on Jessica was beyond dumb after a while.
The setting taking place in New York doesn't do much to make the city part of the setting. We know that Jessica and Dr. Shields inhabit different worlds. I just wanted more of that. Make it more of a contrast. Instead we get bare boned descriptions of things here and there. I am glad I know what the wine that Jessica drank tasted like though (eyeroll).
That ending was such a letdown. I guess I was supposed to be shaken by it, but I went really? That's it. And we get a throwaway line about a bad dude from Jessica's past and it made no sense. This book I think was hoping to be the next "Gone Girl" but woo boy it was not and could not be that. They tried it with some unreliable narrator crap here and there. However, I wish authors would get that you can't do unreliable narrator with stuff that comes out of nowhere. It has to be worked into the story so that as a reader I feel fooled and go aha when I realize I erred, please go out and read "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd." I feel like modern authors just mess this up more than ever now. You can't hide key pieces from the reader to make your story work. It's just being lazy.