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The Good Girl's Guide to Murder Trilogy Ends with a Bang...Just Not a Good One

This review for As Good as Dead contains MAJOR SPOILERS. Proceed at your own risk. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


GENRE: YA Mystery (sequel)

LENGTH: 455 pages


PLOT

The final installment of the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series sees Pip about to go off to college. Before she can, though, she's being stalked by a serial killer and she must find them before they make her their sixth victim.


CHARACTERS

Compared to the first two novels in the trilogy this novel's cast is significantly smaller. Most characters have little more than cameos with the focus being primarily on Pip and Ravi. Since this was a farewell to the series I wish we'd gotten to see more of the rest of the cast. We learn what a good number of them are up to but we don't get to see it so much as being told by Pip. The actual scenes they do have are all in service to Pip as well.

Now, I normally love morally grey characters and I would definitely consider Pip this. Throughout the series much has she wants to be a "good girl" we see hints of an inner darkness. Her arc has been a gradual descent into that darkness and anger within her. This was compelling up until it was disturbing (see the next section).

A large part of the narrative is her struggles with trauma and her PTSD. She has a lot of repetitive thoughts about blood on her hands and gun shots and is easily triggered by certain sounds and sensations. It may not be easy to read about a young woman's trauma, but it's unrealistic to pretend that anyone would survive what she has and come out unscathed. That being said, any positive representation here is kind of spoiled rotten by Pip's actions in this novel.

The identity of the serial killer stalking Pip was pretty obvious. It's Jason Bell who, from the first novel, has been noted as an abusive husband and father and overall terrible human being. If Jackson wanted the reveal to be shocking/surprising she shouldn't have picked a character so well established to be of an evil nature and most definitely should have widened her cast. Such a tiny cast meant that there weren't a lot of characters to suspect. I also think it would have been interesting to have had Pip being stalked by a copycat rather than the actual killer and thought it strange she never truly considered this possibility.


NARRATIVE STYLE/PACING

The novel is told from Pip's third person perspective. I usually think that third person can somewhat distance you from a character but I don't think that was the case here at all. The writing makes it feel like we are inside of Pip's head. There are mixed media elements incorporated which I always love and look forward to. Jackson does them well by having them be part of Pip's research and evidence. There is a steep drop off in mixed media in the second half of the novel which, given the course Jackson chose, wasn't unexpected but was still disappointing.

This novel is really two separate stories. The first half is about Pip having a stalker and the second half is about the aftermath of Pip murdering said stalker (A.K.A. Jason Bell). Throughout the second half Pip and her boyfriend are trying to cover up her murder and frame Max Hasting (a known rapist who got away with his horrendous crimes).

I liked the first half and found it compelling. I longed for Jackson to have Pip trying to uncover the identity of her stalker be the entire premise of the novel. While Jason and Max are both evil people that doesn't defend Pip's actions which were arguably just as immoral. It transformed her into a character I could no longer root for and was instead actively rooting against. It was arduous to make it through the second half has I was emotionally checked out.

Jackson could have easily had Pip kill in self-defense, panic, and then try to cover it up. Instead she made the choice to have Pip escape from Jason just to come back and brutally murder him in cold blood. Pip's struggles with her own morality in the book, but that seems to fly out the window after she kills a man. Her entire focus is on her own freedom and safety.

Finally, the ending of this book made no sense. Pip fears that the town sheriff suspects her still. In order to protect her loved ones she cuts off all contact with them when she goes to college, even breaking up with Ravi. If she genuinely felt she was being closely watched for suspicious behavior wouldn't her abruptly isolating herself from everyone be considered just that?


FINAL THOUGHTS

I suspect that Jackson made the decision to have Pip get kidnapped and kill a man because she wanted the finale to be a bigger and more dramatic than the first two. She wanted to go out with a bang and it backfired. She took a character who, in the first two novels had done good, and turned her wholly bad. There is the saying that two wrongs don't make a right and apparently no one taught Pip or Ms. Jackson that. This series now reads like it's a villain origin story.

The second book in this series is on my favorites of the year list and I wanted so badly to love this book just as much. I fully expected it to be a 4-5 star read. I full anticipated wholeheartedly recommending this series to young readers but I can't do that now. If Jackson wanted to get this dark she should have written this for adults.

I went into this book sad it was the end but looking forward to consuming whatever Jackson may write next. Now, I'm not so sure I'll read more of her books. I haven't ruled it out, but I'm very conflicted.


FINAL RATING: 2⭐️


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3 Comments


stormingsamual
May 03

Completely disagree and this is a very male perspective. The fact you compare her as someone “just as evil” for killing a SERIAL KILLER not just stalker. Serial killer. She chose to not let him continue what he was doing because the police blatantly would not of believed her. Just straight up flat out they wouldn’t. So she saved herself and possibly countless other women by doing what she did. He deserved it and she framed a serial rapist for the crime after he bought his way out of that charge. Yet you say she’s as bad as a rapist? She had two dangerous men made to no longer be a danger. Or does it only count as evil if…

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stormingsamual
May 03
Replying to

Oh also maybe not legally but morally what she did was still self defense. She would of been called a liar and odds are he would of just killed her for the nerve of escaping and reporting him. He was a monster and she is nowhere near on his level.

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pacmancorner
Sep 07, 2022

I don't agree with any of this tbh. If the whole book was following Pip try to figure out who her stalker was - just for it to end up being Jason - would have been a really boring ending to the series. While I agree she should have killed him in self defense, the whole narritive is following along with her story. He is the root cause of all of the problems in her life, so it makes sense that after he literally kidnapped and tried to kill her, killed her dog, was the reason her boyfriends brother is dead, the reason Becca is in jail and Andie is dead, and the reason Stanleys blood is on her hands,…

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