ARC Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart


Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 272 Pages
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017

Summary: The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge. Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

I received an ARC of Genuine Fraud at BookCon (after waiting on line for several hours and through many frustrating mix ups, which, if you haven't read about already, you can here), so I went through a lot to get this book, and I was super excited to give it a start. Not only does it sound similar to the kind of book that I wrote, but I also wasn't very impressed by We Were Liars (my review is here) and I saw Genuine Fraud as an opportunity to try one more time to get myself into a book by E. Lockhart.

Sadly, once again, I was left feeling confused and kind of let down by this book. E. Lockhart was super sweet and amazing when Emily and I met her in person, and we were both looking forward to this book, and just to be clear: The reason that I thought this book was just okay was because I was left feeling pretty confused. Maybe it's just me, and maybe it isn't just the writing style. As always, reviews are subjective. Just because I didn't enjoy this book all that much doesn't mean that you may not. 

There were a few things that I disliked about this book, which I'm going to start with first. The characters, Jule especially, confused me. Some characters you didn't know enough about (such as Brooke), and some characters, especially Jule, you knew so much about that it was hard to tell what was a lie and what was the truth. I honestly think that the book being in third person made this ten times harder to understand Jule's story, because she clearly has some mental struggles going on in her mind about who she is and what her real story is, and I feel like the third person narrative just made all of that sound ten times more confusing, because you didn't actually get into Jule's head, per say, and a third person narrative has a way of making everything said seem like a fact -- which wouldn't be a problem, except the entire story is based around a girl who spins a web of lies and gets confused when trying to keep her own life stories in order. So it definitely gave me a bit of a headache.

Perhaps what confused me most about this book was the timeline. At the beginning of each chapter, you are told what time of year the scene is taking place, and where it's happening, but the story seems to progress...backwards. The first chapter of the book is in the present, and then every single chapter throughout the rest of the book takes you back further and further -- but not in typical flashback style. For example, if the first chapter was in present day, the second chapter would take place two weeks before that, and the third chapter would take you back six months before that, and then the fourth chapter would take you back one day before that, and so on. And then the last chapter is back in present day. It's just a lot, and got pretty confusing, to the point that I debated taking notes to keep everything in order. The timeline was definitely strange and a little confusing, and it was hard keeping track of things, and even though things made slightly more sense in the end, it made the actual reading process pretty frustrating. 

(Minor spoilers included in this paragraph, so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book spoiled for you!) I also had a bit of a problem with the ending of the book. The book doesn't give any indication that there's going to be a sequel...and then you're just left in the dark. Jule had clearly done some pretty horrible things throughout the book, and then it's clear that Noa knows about it, and knows what she's done, and then she literally smashes her hand with her suitcase and runs away on a bus, but we see that Noa survives and is calling for backup. What happens to Jule? Her on-the-run act was clearly starting to fall through, especially because Noa managed to find her after her long list of stolen passports and licenses and fake histories. If even those things didn't work, how much longer is she going to keep it up? Will we ever know?

However, Genuine Fraud didn't only receive negative feedback from me. What I liked about the book was the plot itself, since I myself am writer of an "on the run" story. So the idea of a girl on the run, with all sorts of makeup and outfits and passports and wigs and histories, seemed really appealing to me. (Spoilers ahead again -- skip to the next paragraph!) I was also really intrigued by the idea that Jule was the one that ended up killing Immie, which is something that you find out much later in the book -- in an incredibly gory way, mind you -- even though I started to predict it a little bit before it came, so I wasn't super shocked. It was still a good plot twist nonetheless! I actually also liked Immie's character, when she was into all of those books and that relaxing lifestyle and being a good friend to Jule and all of that. When things were going well with Jule and Immie, I really liked Immie as a character.

Overall, I thought that Genuine Fraud was okay. There were parts that were extremely dry, as well as parts that were incredibly intense. I just felt really confused by the timeline and the character and how the story wrapped up, especially because I doubt there's going to be a sequel, in which case I am left with a lot of questions and things that don't make sense. But like I said earlier, reviews are subjective, and just because this book wasn't my cup of tea doesn't mean that it won't be yours. If Genuine Fraud is already on your TBR, I encourage you to pick it up and give it a try when it comes out. You never know what stories you may love!

As for the question of whether I'd try a third time to read an E. Lockhart book? Definitely. You never know what'll happen, and hopefully I'll find an E. Lockhart book that I enjoy soon. This book wasn't bad or terrible by any means, but I just finished it feeling that it was okay, and that was really it. But if you're into thrillers, I'd still recommend giving this one a try.

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