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Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson - Review

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Where did I get it? My partner bought it for me a few weeks ago for an anniversary. He bought me three books, I bought him a record. That sums us up quite nicely! 

What's it about? It's the sequel to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (link to my review from last June - weird, because I thought it was much more recently that I'd read this!). In it, it's a few months after the action of AGGGTM and the trial of Max Hastings is underway. Pip has also got a popular podcast, about the murder of Andie Bell and so on. Her recording of Max Hastings admitting he raped Becca was unadmissable as evidence, and Pip has to be really careful of what she says on the podcast. She is still gong out with Ravi, who is a darling. 

Then her friend Connor's brother Jamie Reynolds goes missing, and Connor and his mum Joanna ask Pip for help. She's very reluctant to, given everything that happened with the Andie Bell case and how obsessed she became, so she tries to tell the police. However, Daniel da Silva still hates her, and DI Hawkins basically thinks the family is overreacting. Jamie is 24 and entitled to do what he likes, a view held by his dad Arthur. Arthur thinks he'll be back pretty soon, he's done this before. Connor and Joanna are desperate, though, so Pip agrees to help. She begins to speak to people who know Jamie, and records them for a new season of her podcast. 

It turns out that Jamie had lost his job with Pip's mum, after being caught stealing. There was a memorial for Andie and Sal on the day Jamie went missing, and Pip begins to unravel Jamie's movements at the memorial and afterwards at a party. She enlists the help of the local newspaper to print a missing poster of Jamie, and asks her schoolmates for help in tracking Jamie's movements. 

As in the previous book, the narrative is dotted with transcripts from Pip's podcast, with newspaper articles, messages, other piece of ephemera. I thought that worked a lot better in this book than the previous one, although there's generally less of it too. 

Little Kilton has a lot of secrets that it's holding on to, and Jamie is caught up in them. I found the mystery genuinely engaging. I did guess some of the twists but as I've said before I have read a lot of adult crime fiction and am familiar with crime fiction tropes. I find Pip a really interesting character and want her to succeed. I am CERTAIN this was a middle book of a trilogy - as Jamie Kennedy says in Scream 2, the stakes are higher, the body count is higher, there's always more gore - and you should never assume the killer is dead. It's a perfect middle book in that regard. I will eat my hat if I'm wrong. 

What age range is it for? 14+ if crime fiction is your thing

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? I mean Ravi is, but it's not a thing in the book. I actually really wanted MORE Ravi in this book. I missed him! 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? There's mention of dealing, but it's not really on the page

Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's gory. 

Are there swear words? Yes, they're fabulously used, I liked it 

What criticisms do I have? I do have a few. Firstly, I feel like everyone in Little Kilton is rich and lives in a huge house? I get that it's supposed to be Surrey or somewhere else in the Home Counties, but it still feels a bit inauthentic for me. 

Secondly, there's very little of Pip's family or friends in this book and I think it lacked a bit of... warmth, maybe? A bit of love? At the beginning she has to persuade her parents to let her get involved in something again, but then that seems to fizzle out and they don't mention it again. This is already a LONG YA book at over 400 pages so I really don't know what I would have cut out, but I did feel it lacked something that the first book had. Pip's best friend Cara is in at the beginning, reeling from what happened with her dad in the previous book, but she doesn't feature much and I missed her. As I said, I felt there needed to be more Ravi, too. 

Linked to this is the fact that I felt the last third of the book really raced through getting to the end of the story and I felt like there wasn't a lot of reflection on what was happening. Personally I felt even a few paragraphs would have made all the difference here. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. My criticisms are really me nitpicking because I did really like the book and I think Holly Jackson is a really good voice in YA and I look forward to her further books. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I couldn't wait to get to it as I'd been hearding so many things!

What do I think of the cover? I think it, like the plot, raises the stakes from the first book. I really like it. 

What other books is it like? A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, obviously. 

How many stars? Four out of five. 

Where is the book going now? To live next to its sibling on my shelves!

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