I read and reviewed Have You Seen This Girl? as an ARC copy for the blog tour for its release. The novel is written from the viewpoint of Wendi Wise, who suffers a great trauma when she is 13, being kidnapped by a trafficking ring after her and her best friend, Claire, are groomed by two boys. Wendi witnesses the murder of her friend and is drugged and used as a sex slave for a several months before being dumped by the roadside with some clothes and money and told to never return otherwise her family will be killed. After some troubled teenage years, she is determined to wreak revenge on the people who destroyed her innocence.
The first half of the book is about Wendi’s childhood and her tale of how she finds herself on the verge of admitting herself to rehab so that she can have a clear head before she returns to her hometown of Flocksdale. The other half describes her journey to finding those who ruined her and plotting her revenge.
This book is well-written with a number of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. Having daughters myself (one of them just a little older than Wendi) made me feel uneasy with the plot, so although I can appreciate the skill applied in writing it, it wasn’t necessarily an enjoyable read, although I was gripped enough to want to know how it ends. The structure allows for the reader to be surprised at what happens next, with a prologue which gives the reader a mid-way point of view where Wendi is about to go to rehab, then a step back in time to Wendi’s childhood then back to when she gets out of rehab and tries to simultaneously get her life back together and find and destroy the people who ruined her life.
Lynch tells the story with a matter-of-fact narrative, which helps to capture Wendi’s emotions at pivotal moments and allows the reader to get some idea of the sense of detachment that Wendi feels after her experiences.
On a more critical note, I did find some of the plot turns a little unrealistic, such as Jonathan turning up when he does. I also thought more could have been made of Jonathan’s investigation. It seemed that just as he was starting to uncover what was going on, the situation was revealed by the perpetrators themselves. However, the Epilogue does attempt to right this by retrospectively giving some further information on the scam as a whole.
As I mentioned, I found it difficult to enjoy this book as such, as I found the premise made me feel a little uncomfortable, but I did find it an engaging book to read and it is a well thought out plot, which continues to surprise the reader up to the end. There is one particular twist which I would defy anyone to see coming, right at the climax of the book, which I won’t divulge here as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone. Lynch has written a very good book here and for anyone who enjoys a good revenge story, you’ll enjoy this novel.