Book review: Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 Permalink

I’d heard a lot – and good things – about E Lockhart’s We Were Liars so the opportunity to read her* latest novel was just too tempting.

And Genuine Fraud is an interesting read. Full of potential. Well written. VERY cleverly constructed. But – depending on your expectations – may fall a little short when it comes to the plot. It’s good (though I note many reviews commented on it being a re-imagining of The Talented Mr Ripley) but if you’re expecting some mystery or some suspense… it’s not really there. At least not in the way you’d expect.

Book review: Genuine Fraud by E LockhartGenuine Fraud
by E. Lockhart
Published by Bonnier Zaffre
on September 7th 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Young Adult
ISBN: 1471406628, 9781471406621
Pages: 267

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.

Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.

An intense friendship.

A disappearance.

A murder, or maybe two.

A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.

A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

You should understand that this book is written in reverse. Like Memento or similar. Readers are given very clear direction however (something lacking in the last book I read), so Lockhart specifies that the chapter is…. x days or weeks before a certain event we’ve just read about.

Like I said, it’s very clever. We’re able to guess what’s happened quite early on however, so – if you’re after a whodunnit or typical mystery – this isn’t it. But, I was intrigued enough to keep reading – eager to know how we got ‘there’. And I think that’s the addictive nature of this book.

Jule is an interesting lead character. I was drawn to her immediately. And I think Lockhart does this on purpose. We’re engaged and worried about her as she seems to be in some sort of danger. We learn about what happened to her as a child. (At least I think we did – that was the most confusing part of the book for me. Was it true or wasn’t it? And what became of her between the ages of 8 and 15 or so? The backcover blurb mentions the presence of a ‘spy’ so I don’t think I’m offering any spoilers by saying this is kinda raised but goes nowhere.)

But as Jule’s story unfolds she becomes less likeable. I think Lockhart intends for this to be gradual but there was a pretty quick pivot point for me.

Other than the weird glitch (ie. huge missing piece of her backstory: which either ended up on the editing room floor – in a manner of speaking; was forgotten by Lockhart and her editors; or was just another story Jule spun… albeit via third person narration!) I liked the structure of this book.

It could just be the story of a sociopath / psychopath. Or it could be the story of a friendship. It certainly seems like the latter. Initially. Although as we progress through the book we realise our perception of Jule and Imogen’s friendship and Imogen (and her behaviour) is kinda tainted and start to wonder exactly what we can believe!

This is billed as a young adult novel (13-18yrs I noted somewhere) but the key players are of college-age so I’d recommend it be read by those at the top of that range and older.

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart was published by Hot Key Books in early September 2017, however the version I read, is to be published by Bonnier Zaffre in May 2018.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

* I did have to check if ‘E’ Lockhart was male or female and discovered it’s Emily Jenkins writing under a pseudonym.


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