I read about 3/4 of this book in one night and if that doesn't tell you something about how engrossed I was in the book I don't know what does (I did have a cold and was in bed, but that was just a great excuse to lie there).
To start with I thought I was just going to get a 'mean girls' novel, and then there were echoes of 'Erin Brockovich' and the Flint, MI water crisis playing out. But then came the layers of the main main character's insecurities, neuroses, the relationship with her dying father, and her memories of a town she wants to leave in the dust. Abby Williams becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of the disappearance of her old 'frenemy' Kaycee Mitchell, and amid a wash of alcohol, and a haze of a past she wants to forget, she starts to forget that she actually came back to Barrens to look into the corruption that has overtaken the town care of the company Optimal.
But somehow it all comes together for Abby and the reader, all in one fell swoop. I actually didn't find myself trying to guess what was coming next in the story, but I was taken seamlessly through Abby's moods, her painful flaws, her moments of madness and sadness, and through to the conclusion, without skipping a beat. The only thing I could have done without was the occasional confusing 'semi-intimate' moments with guys who wouldn't have given Abby the time of day back in high school, but I suppose she actually really was the one who was confused. 'Luckily' these transgressions end up serving her well, to some degree.
Small-town America looks as depressing to me as most novels would have it, and I was left with the wretched smell of bonfire smoke in my nostrils after reading this, BUT an entirely satisfied feeling of having read Krysten's debut novel. Krysten is a natural-born writer and I will hurriedly reach for her next one. I enjoyed the book thoroughly. Bravo!