29 August 2022

Review: The It Girl by Ruth Ware

The It Girl by Ruth Ware book cover

* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

I absolutely adored the rich setting of The It Girl by Ruth Ware in the fictional campus college of Pelham College at Oxford University. 

Having visited Oxford in 2012 and 2018, I easily fell into the academic student vibe and wished I was among the characters fortunate enough to study there. Put it this way, I was definitely conjuring Dead Poets Society vibes as I was reading.

Our protagonist Hannah Jones is an impressive character and we pick up her story on her first day at Oxford. Later on, we find out more about her humble upbringing:
"I was the only person in my year at school to apply for Oxford. I'm the first person in my family to come here too. In fact, my dad doesn't even have a degree - he's a builder who left education when he was sixteen. I didn't volunteer to feed underprivileged kids in my gap year or spend my summer digging wells - I spent my summer working in a supermarket. As you may have guessed, I don't always feel like I fit in here. But I'm determined to prove I belong." Page 55-56
When Hannah moves into her accommodation on campus in Pelham College, she's surprised to be sharing a common room with April Clarke-Cliveden. April is charismatic, rich, confident, intelligent, beautiful and manipulative. April is the classic 'it girl' with a gaggle of loyal friends, Hannah, Will, Hugh, Ryan and Emily but by the end of the second term, April has been murdered.

The story unfolds in two timeframes, Before and After and both were compelling. At 420 pages in length though, I thought it was probably 50 pages too long. The After section takes place 10 years after the murder and we learn from the blurb that the man convicted of April's murder has died in prison. Hannah is married to Will and expecting their first child when this death occurs which sets off a chain of events.

Both time frames contained an element of mystery and suspense, although the ending was unexpected which is exactly what you want in a domestic thriller from Ruth Ware.

I do wonder though, if I've been spoiled forever after reading and loving my first Ruth Ware novel in The Turn of the Key back in 2019. That book went on to make my Top 5 Books of 2019 list and the ending was so amazing, it made me gasp out loud. Every time I've picked up a Ruth Ware novel since then (see my review for One by One by Ruth Ware) I'm hoping to have a similar mind blowing reading experience. The It Girl fell short of blowing my mind or making me gasp, and it won't be a contender on my Top 5 list for this year, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable 'whodunnit', that's for sure.

I recommend The It Girl by Ruth Ware to crime and thriller readers, campus novel enthusiasts and those with a special place in their heart for Oxford.

My Rating:

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