Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: April 11th 2017
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo
In the masterful follow-up to the New York Times bestseller All the Missing Girls—“think: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl” (TheSkimm)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

My Thoughts:
There’s something to be said about a book that captures your attention and compels you to read the story straight through in one sitting.  While The Perfect Stranger is not without faults, it was a pretty captivating read.

We meet Leah Stevens as she’s making a fresh start in a somewhere-small-town in Pennsylvania. Formerly an investigative sort of journalist, Leah’s left Boston after an article she wrote led to tragedy, a restraining order, and questions regarding her integrity as a reporter.  Her move is spur-of-the-moment, impulsive, and encouraged by a college-time friend Leah hasn’t seen in eight years: Emmy.  Emmy is a flighty, charismatic, mysterious girl; a girl Leah instantly bonded with all those years ago when Leah was in a desperate place in life. It seems like fate when they by chance meet up again eight years later when once again, Leah is in a desperate situation. 

They move to Pennsylvania, rent a cabin in the woods, get jobs, and begin to acclimate to their new life when a woman is assaulted close to their cabin, and soon after Emmy disappears.  The search for Emmy spotlights the fact that Leah knows so very little about her friend.  Soon the police wonder if Emmy even really existed or some made up character Leah dreamed up to shift suspicions. 

At first I was a little stunned at Leah for stupidly, IMO, picking up and moving States with this woman she knew so little about!  But as I read on and discovered the extent of damage Leah was trying to escape, I understood the desperation that drove her to act without fully assessing the situation.  Emotions ran high and the fight or flight response kicked in.

This first half of the book I felt a real disconnect with Leah.  Because of this it wasn’t clear at first if Leah was an unreliable narrator, and I was wondering right along with the police if Emmy was an invention of Leah’s imagination. That didn’t last for long, though. I will say that I never did feel a real connection with any of the characters; they all felt a little remote and held at a distance mentally and emotionally from me as a reader.  While I appreciate the romance with Detective Kyle Donovan and Leah, I wouldn’t say it was particularly moving, because I never really felt the attraction between them. I will say I’m pleased it wasn’t a depressing mess like most of the psychological thrillers out there today, but it wasn’t the driving force of the story for me.

The addictive part of this mystery was finding out what was a lie, what was the truth, finding out what exactly happened to Leah back in Boston, getting to the bottom of the whole Emmy situation (friend or foe?), and the current danger Leah was facing in Pennsylvania. I was on the edge of my seat in parts!  There were some seriously hair-raising, creepy scenes!  Before going to bed I made sure all the windows and doors were locked, because the suspense of the story got to me!

There were a few threads I wish were explained a little more by the end, nothing critical, but for the most part this was a really satisfying, justice-being-served type of conclusion for me.

Connect with Megan Miranda:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


  1. Why do they always compare. I am not a fan of that. sounds good

  2. I liked this one too and agree with you on wondering if she was an unreliable narrator. Great review!!!

  3. Your thoughts on this one were in line with mine. On one hand, the mystery hand suspense were excellent and kept me reading, but I didnt care for the characters, the romance was a miss, and I wish more things had been fleshed out too. Didn't you think the second half got too wordy as well?

    1. I do think it was a bit wordy throughout, but when that started happening I'd pay more attention to the dialogue and skim the rest. I do wish the story was a little more focused.

  4. Great review, Rachel! I'm glad to see you enjoyed this book. I loved it - especially how creepy it was!!

    1. Thanks, Brandie! Yes, definitely creepy! It would make a good movie I think! :)

  5. I love a book that can hook me from start to finish! I haven't read many books with unreliable narrators that I love, but I like that the lines are blurred, here. Thanks for adding this to my TBR, Rachel--it seems like the perfect book to curl up with on a rainy summer day, so I'm looking forward to doing just that in a few months! :)

  6. I've seen several reviews now for Megan Miranda books and I definitely want to try one. This one sounds tense and I love it when an author ratchets up the suspense like that! Sound like a good one even if it did have a few flaws. Nice review!

  7. this sounds like quite a great read. I need some more mystery in my life.

  8. Yay :D Awesome review Rachel. <3 So glad you enjoyed this book. I liked it too; so so much :D Adore this author. <3 And yess. I liked the ending a lot too :) Thank you for sharing. <3

    1. Oh, wow, Carina! I didn't know you read this! Not your usual type of read, I know, but I'm thrilled you enjoyed it, too! :)

  9. Hmmm, it's tough when you don't really feel for or love the characters or the romance. If a romance is going to be present in a book, I need to love it! Or I'll be sad and most likely end up not liking the book as much as I would have, had there been NO romance at all. If that makes sense. :D I remember reading Carina's review of this book - she loved it a lot! I'm glad you enjoyed it as well.

    Wonderful review, Rachel! Have a fantastic week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!


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