Pretty Girls Make Graves by Nicole Trilivas

(Cover picture courtesy of Literary R&R.)

Sparked by a break-up with her married lover, Justine trades in college to live abroad, and descends into a destructive reinvention with a backdrop of the underbelly of Scotland, Ireland, and Australia.
Acutely aware that she’s not the first girl to experience these formative misadventures, Justine hijacks the vocal chords of archetypal characters from myths, fairy tales, literature, and pop culture such as Medusa, Rapunzel, and Catherine (of Brontë’s Wuthering Heights). She echoes the voices that display her story–the violent exit from girlhood via a botched love life–better than her own.
She doesn’t have to write another mistress’s manifesto; Kalypso, one of the betrayed goddesses from Homer’s Odyssey, has that one covered. She was never overtly cruel without justification; that’s the job of a sadomasochistic Wicked Witch of fairy tale infamy. She doesn’t have a penchant for picking the wrong guy over her soul mate; Catherine does.
is a dark and stylized examination of the vicious things we do in the name of self-preservation, and questions the frantic necessity to tell our stories to establish human connection-however ugly they may be.

(Summary courtesy of Amazon.)

[Full disclosure: Nicole Trilivas, the author of this book, contacted me and gave me a free e-book so I could review her novel.  This is not the type of book I would normally read, but I will try to review it as objectively as possible.]

Pretty Girls Make Graves certainly had an interesting premise: the story of a young woman’s life being told through the voices of legendary women like Medusa, Rapunzel and Kalypso.  Unfortunately, these women rarely speak up, so we are stuck in the point of view of the main character, Justine.  Justine is not in any way sympathetic or even particularly interesting.  She whines about missing Jason, hooks up (but doesn’t necessarily have sex) with every being with a Y chromosome she can get her hands on and drinks ad nauseum—quite literally.  Did I mention that she breaks men’s hearts for fun and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever?  I can understand ruthless women, like Thu from House of Dreams, but even she had redeeming qualities.  Justine?  Not so much.

As for the plot, don’t bother looking for one.  You won’t be able to find it amidst all of the hooking up and drinking.  Justine seems to wander aimlessly around, travelling from country to country on her rich father’s money and generally acting like a spoiled brat.  Okay, I know how it feels when the man of your dreams belongs to someone else, but sooner or later you have to grow up, get over it and move on.  Justine doesn’t and that’s part of the reason why I was so frustrated with this book by page 43.

Nicole Trilivas tried to insert some meaning into all of the Jersey Shore-like behavior in this book, but it fell flat.  It seemed like in the last 20 pages she realized that there had to be a point to her novel and rushed to put on in without really going back to add hints about said point.  My overall impression of this novel is not good because it made me ask: Why did I read this?  No book should ever make its readers ask themselves that.

I give this book 1.5/5 stars.

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