What worked for me: The alternating POVs were crucial in maintaining the element of “who done it?” Girl Last Seen revolves around the disappearance of a budding YouTube starlet. Kadence (Kady) never gets her one direct point of view. There are some descriptions of “found footage,” videos she recorded herself. But we do see all kinds of different sides to Kady from those closest to her. There’s Lauren, who se are instantly introduces to as Kady’s best friend and ex-band member, who recently lost her voice. Even though the reader follows Lauren’s day to day, there is a very real moment when we doubt her actions. There’s Mason, Kady’s boyfriend. He’s a pawn who doesn’t see himself as a pawn. Finally, there’s Jude. Jude is a reinvented man, Lauren’s ex-best friend before the Kadence Show came to town. He’s right along side with Lauren on the list of suspects. Brown and Anastasiu do a fantastic job at straddling the line of moral ambiguity. The reader gets just enough detail from each perspective, not to mention Kady’s videos in between chapters that you don’t know who to trust until the very end.
Lauren DeSanto is a character that is complicated and worth sticking around for. I think everyone can see parts of themselves reflected in her. She’s the introvert sidekick next to Kady’s dazzling star show. They both want to be musicians. Kady wants the stardom. Lauren is a poet and a writer. When she looses her voice to a throat infection, her life is seemingly over. Throughout the narrative, Lauren is forced to reflect on who she is. Who is she without Kady? Who did she let herself become? Was she just a lemming? Being accused of murder is not something taken lightly, especially when she wasn’t the popular of the duo to begin with.
Girl Last Seen is a fascinating look at internet culture. There is a moment where Lauren reads the comments left for her in one of their most recent YouTube videos. The anonymity of leaving behind mean posts and threats is something that’s become normal in our culture. Seeing it done to Lauren, and how out of hand “viral” images can get, is sobering. Entire lives hang in the balance, and for what? A million hits?
Girl Last Seen is a tightly woven web of truths and lies. You won’t know which is which until the twisted resolution. For fans of Gretchen McNeil and fast paced mysteries.