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.