The It Girl by Ruth Ware
A dark academia tale involving a decade old murder of a roommate. But as Hannah searches for answers to put her own troubled conscious at rest, can she trust those closest to her?
When it comes to mysteries, I don’t always need a super creative or unique plot. But what I do want is a strong setting, a cast of colorful characters to “investigate,” some red herrings, and a surprise twist at the end. And that’s exactly what Ruth Ware provides with her newest novel, The It Girl. The plot may be familiar, but it was still a delight to read.
The It Girl flashes back and forward through time, following the perspective of Hannah. Ten years ago, while living on campus at Oxford, her roommate and closest friend was murdered. Now, the man accused of her murder has died in jail and Hannah begins questioning everything. What did she really see that night? And why does she have these unresolved, troubled feelings that something doesn’t quite line up?
The character of Hannah was well done. The motivation throughout her story felt plausible and I appreciated how her search for answers felt very realistic. Her character is clearly haunted by the events of that night, and her modern-day search is naïve but driven.
Right from the start, the writing was engaging and really pulled the reader into the setting. While this is a slow-burn sort of story that occasionally meanders, I didn’t mind the pacing or longer length. The storytelling and character development was compelling enough to keep me hooked from start to finish.
As a mystery, the surprise reveal at the end was great. It was logical but unexpected. There was motive galore for April’s death, and at some point during the book, I found myself questioning nearly every character — and that was fantastic.
While this isn’t the most unique premise for a murder mystery, it was a thoroughly fun and entertaining read! I’ve read three other books by Ware, this academia who-dunnit takes the lead as my favorite novel by this author.
Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and dark academia who-dunnits
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ARC provided courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.