4 star

Review: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author). 

This is a book I randomly picked out at the library the other day when I was picking out other books. I say random but I suppose I was familiar with the author at least. I did not enjoy the last book I read, but I have to say this one was a big improvement! It wasn’t the most in the suspense department but the intrigue was enjoyable.

Invisible Girl really takes place over a couple of POVs. One is Owen, a bitter teacher who gets accused of sexual misconduct is the main point of intrigue. A less than ideal family lives across the way, and the girl at the centre of it all, Saffyre Maddox, who is somehow tied to that family. What exactly transpired between all these characters that led up to this moment, where Owen is the last one to see Saffyre?

The characters were very consistent and each quite unique. They were relatively well crafted and each added something to the story. The intrigue was carefully crafted and fairly interesting and suspenseful in its own way. Many of the characters were rather unsavoury and if you’re not into some unpalatable characters, this may not be the book for you. That being said, the moral that was conveyed wasn’t too bad, so I found it overall acceptable.

The suspense was a little bit lackluster though. I didn’t have too much trouble getting through the book, but I could definitely see where many of the parts were not that suspenseful and rather dull. The information and intrigue was still good, but those who are looking for a suspenseful and thrilling experience, that isn’t what I got at all. This was a similar experience to the last book I read by this author, so that checked out again. However, I found that at least the story this time was more interesting, so I at least always wanted to know the ending, helping me get through the book.

The intrigue that I keep mentioning was great. The story was interesting, and the social commentary that was running through the book was also fairly interesting, and had me wondering how it would turn out. Lots of dark themes were addressed in this book, but I thought they were handled fairly well. If you’re sensitive to such topics like mental health or sexual misconduct then it may be best to avoid the book. But if not, I felt that the book had some decent commentary that didn’t include just using those tropes in a cliche manner.

Overall the ending was fairly satisfying, and there were a satisfying number of twists and turns for me to be happy with my experience. If you aren’t looking for just the thrilling ride but looking for a mystery that you can try and figure out, and you want some social commentary on incels and mental health, then this may be the book for you.

Overall Recommendations

Invisible Girl is a story of a missing girl, the guy who sees her last, and a dysfunctional family. Saffyre Maddox disappears and Owen is the last to see her. And what is the connection with the family living across the street? If you are looking for a story full of intrigue and some social commentary on incels and mental health, then this may be the story for you. However, you may want to avoid this book if those are some trigger topics. The suspense aspect of this book was lower than normal, but it makes up for it in the weaving together of its storyline.


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