Review: The Girl with the Wrong Name

The Girl with the Wrong Name
The Girl with the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seventeen-year-old Theo Lane has been hiding half of her face from the public ever since “The Night In Question,” a night that left her with a long, disfiguring scar, an unquiet mind, and no memory of what happened. An aspiring documentary maker, she uses her camera to keep the world at a safe distance, shooting hours of secret footage with a hidden button cam on her jacket collar. But when Andy Reese, a forlorn and mysterious “Lost Boy,” wanders into her frame, he becomes the unknowing star of her latest project. Her unhealthy obsession with him tears her from that sheltered life behind the camera, pulling her into a perilous, mind-bending journey through Andy’s world. But is it really Andy’s world she’s investigating? Or is it her own?

The Girl With the Wrong Name starts out pretty innocuous – Theo is a high school student who recently had some sort of incident which caused her to have a scar on her face, an incident she can’t remember. She is an avid AV geek, which means she carries around a spy cam to document the next big story. One such day, she sees Andy looking forlorn in a cafe, and gets interested in what his story might be. Her curiosity gets to an extreme that she asks him a few days later, and that begins her mad hunt to find the girl he has been waiting for in that cafe. But parts of the story don’t add up, and Sarah is pretty much a ghost, the way she can’t be found. As Theo descends further into her obsession, she also withdraws from her friends. But the story she doesn’t remember is much more than she thought – it is her own family’s story that she was seeking out.

Theo is a snarky but moody girl; her self esteem is at a low due to the scar she has. She feels it makes her a monster, and so is usually cooped up in her room. But she is also on meds, the kind that meddle with her sleep – making her an unreliable narrator. About one-third through the book, the first real plot twist arrives, making me doubt her. After that, it is more like what is real what is not. Who is saying the truth, and what does she believe. The truth is shocking, yes, but a part of it had already been given away in the preface. But the other part, about Andy? Oh, that was some really good plot arc. And the two endings – the false one, and then the real one – maybe were a bit too close and felt a bit rushed with the second, but overall, a thrilling un-put-down-able read.

Received a free galley from Soho Teen via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or the review.

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