Book Title:
Girl in a Bad Place
Book Author:
Kaitlin Ward
Page Count:
272
Publishing Date:
October 31st, 2017
Publisher:
Point
Date Read:
November 5th, 2017
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!

Synopsis

Mailee and Cara take care of each other. Mailee is the star of the high school plays; Cara is the stage manager. Mailee can't keep her life together; Cara has enough organizational skills for the both of them.

So when the girls are invited to visit the Haven, a commune in the mountains near their suburban Montana homes, it seems like an adventure. Until Cara starts spending every waking minute there ... and Mailee thinks it's creepy, almost like a cult. When Cara decides she's going to move to the Haven permanently, Mailee knows it's a bad idea. But how far will she go to save her best friend ... from herself?

My Review

Girl in a Bad Place is one of those fantastic, heart pounding sounding stories about a teenage girl who gets sucked into a cult and doesn’t seem to understand exactly what is going on or what she has gotten herself into.  It’s a story full of friendship, mystery, and a thriller, all wrapped up into a fun book that you’ll want to read through all in one sitting.

Girl in a Bad Place tells the story of Mailee and Cara – two best friends who are always there for each other and who are always looking out for one another, whether it be about school plays (which they love taking part in), boys, or family drama.  The two of them tell each other everything and are more or less inseparable – at least, until Cara decides that she and Mailee are going to take a trip into Haven – a small, off-the-grid community full of a very small amount of people who grow their own food and take care of themselves.  This community is led by Firehorse, a middle-aged man who claims he takes care of those who follow him and his beliefs.

“‘Do you want to continue down a path of emptiness, or do you want to help bring order to this chaotic earth?'”

Firehorse seems strange to Mailee and her boyfriend, especially since they don’t particularly believe what he tells them.

Cara enjoys her time there, but Mailee and her boyfriend are quite skeptical and don’t really want much to do with the place – it gives them the creeps – especially the fingernail scratch marks in the root cellar door and the story that one of the residents of Haven have told Mailee…

So when Mailee hears that Cara has been going up there without her, she gets concerned – she wants to protect her best friend, but she doesn’t seem to really want to hear it.  She loves Haven and she feels safe there, so she has no interest in Mailee’s concerns.  The two of them start to drift apart as Cara spends more and more time there, and eventually, she tells Mailee that she plans on moving to the Haven and becoming a full member of the community, which causes Mailee to become even more concerned.

“There are millions of books and articles and TV shows that tell you how much it sucks to go through a breakup with a boyfriend, but no one prepares you for the pain of the moment when your best friend stops needing you.”

When Cara invites Mailee to the Haven’s harvest party, which will also double as Cara’s initiation ceremony, she is prepared to talk her friend out of what she is doing, get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Haven, and walk out of there and back into her life, saying goodbye to Haven forever.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as planned, and Mailee ends up on a hike with the group, and stumbles across more than she had bargained for.

Even though I thought it was a good story overall, there were a lot of things about Girl in a Bad Place that kind of irked me, and I thought the characters were a bit flat and not all that interesting.  I understand that this book was a very plot-driven story because of the whole mystery that takes over, but at the same time, I really found myself wanting something more from it.

I did enjoy the whole friendship aspect of the book – Cara and Mailee were pretty close at the beginning of the book, and it was kind of sad to watch them drift apart over their difference of opinion about Haven.

I have to say I sided more with Mailee from the very beginning of the book, and I knew that Cara’s character had to be stubborn and somewhat blind to what was going on around her in order for the plot to work, but I don’t understand how Cara couldn’t possibly understand that she was getting involved in a cult.  It wasn’t subtle in the slightest, and there were so many hints that she should have been able to pick up on from the very beginning (then again, that’s true of real life, too – isn’t it?).  Mailee tried her hardest to save her friend from becoming involved, and she did whatever it would take to get her out of there once she was fully committed to becoming a member of Haven.

Mailee’s character was actually pretty brave, especially after she discovered the secrets that Firehorse kept hidden from everyone at the Haven.  He wasn’t at all who he claimed to be, and Mailee still fought for her best friend, putting herself into a dangerous situation in order to save her.

Girl in a Bad Place is a great read if you are really into books that deal with cults and mysteries, and if you like thrillers, you might want to check this one out.  I’m glad I had the chance to read it, because it really was a good story, and I loved how much there was in terms of friendship.  I only wished I had been able to connect with the characters a bit better, because I think that would have made the story that much more enriching for me.

3.5 stars
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11 Responses to Girl in a Bad Place by Kaitlin Ward

  1. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything centered around a cult but it really is a fascinating topic! I’m pretty intrigued by this friendship and how it is affected as well. Thanks for sharing!
    Sara @ Forever 17 Books recently posted…Review: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie WestMy Profile

    • Kelly says:

      I’ve read a few books that are centered on cults…I think the best one that I’ve read so far is probably The Special Ones by Em Bailey. It had a secondary storyline going on that made it really interesting. This book was pretty good, too, especially with the deepness of the mystery that Haven is wrapped up in!

  2. Oh that sounds like an interesting story for sure – we don’t see books dealing with this topic too often, that’s for sure. I’m not usually a big thriller reader, but I like getting out of my comfort zone every once in a while and I think I’d be curious about the mystery in that one. It’s a bit sad that the characters didn’t make you feel more, though, that they felt a bit flat overall :/ Great review, Kelly! 🙂
    Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks recently posted…On ARC insecurityMy Profile

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks! I had higher hopes for the characters in this book so I was kind of bummed that I didn’t really connect to them, either, but the story made up for a lot of that. This was a really fast paced and quick read, though, so if you ever get a chance to pick this one up and read it, I do recommend it!

  3. First, I love this cover! It’s so cool! Second, the blurb is really cool. I wish you had liked the characters more, though. Flat characters don’t make me want to read it.
    Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse recently posted…Review: Behind the Bars by Brittainy C. CherryMy Profile

  4. First, I love this cover! It’s so cool! Second, the blurb is really cool. I wish you had liked the characters more, though. Flat characters don’t make me want to read it.
    Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse recently posted…Review: Behind the Bars by Brittainy C. CherryMy Profile

    • Kelly says:

      I thought the cover was pretty awesome, too. Who knows, maybe someone else would think the characters were exciting or easy to connect to, but they just didn’t work for me.

  5. Sam@WLABB says:

    I am more of a character driven reader than plot driven reader, so I might struggle with this one, but great review.
    Sam@WLABB recently posted…Discussion: 2018 Reading ChallengesMy Profile

  6. The idea of the book being about a cult definitely piques my interest, although I’m sure I’d have an issue with the flat, uninteresting characters. Thanks for the honest review!

    • Kelly says:

      I felt the same way – I think the author was really on to creating a memorable story, but it seemed too fast paced and short to really bring the characters to life in the way they deserved!

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