All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is definitely unique. And that’s a real compliment for a book that’s about young woman disappearing, as this is hardly a ground-breaking premise for a story. It’s a classic mystery, but told backwards. We begin by learning about two missing girls-one who disappeared 10 years ago, and the other who went missing a few weeks ago. Then, we are transported back two weeks before that date to right after the second disappearance to slowly piece the puzzle back together, day-by-day. For those who love solving mysteries this is the perfect read. You aren’t sure what happened to these girls, but the backwards narrative slowly clues you in to the possible motives and suspects. And of course there are cliffhangers, which satisfies those people looking for a thrill.
Now, let’s get into my problem with the story. There is a reason why mysteries aren’t typically told backwards, and that’s because it requires a huge amount of suspension of disbelief. When we begin the book, the protagonist Nicolette presumably knows the answers to the mystery, yet she doesn’t speak or think about it. Obviously, this is done so the suspense can continue; however it is incredibly unbelievable. The book is told from a first-person perspective, we are privy to all of Nic’s thoughts and feelings, so it’s strange that her full knowledge isn’t evident in more of her actions and inner thoughts. One could easily argue that every book requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. This is fiction after all, and if everything written had to be believable, we would never read entire genres of books. But, it all seemed a little easy to me.
When I finished reading the book I noticed that the author bio mentions the fact that this is Miranda’s first novel for adults, but she’s written for young adult audiences in the past. In my mind, this explains the writing style completely. Many young adult novels seem a bit unbelievable even if they are rooted in reality, and teenagers seem to have an easier time accepting things that seem unrealistic because they tend to over-dramatize things ( I realize any teenage readers I have may throw their computer across the room after reading my opinion on this, but we’ve all been there, so just relax). In fact, I believe the publisher could have marketed this to a teenage audience and done even better with it because this falls perfectly into that weird ‘new adult‘ category that people seem to be enjoying.
So there we have it; a fun book to read, but wholly unbelievable for this old-at-heart 31 year old.