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Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy #BookReview

Josephine Morrow is Girl One, the first of nine “Miracle Babies” conceived without male DNA, raised on an experimental commune known as the Homestead. When a suspicious fire destroys the commune and claims the lives of two of the Homesteaders, the remaining Girls and their Mothers scatter across the United States and lose touch.

Years later, Margaret Morrow goes missing, and Josie sets off on a desperate road trip, tracking down her estranged sisters who seem to hold the keys to her mother’s disappearance. Tracing the clues Margaret left behind, Josie joins forces with the other Girls, facing down those who seek to eradicate their very existence while uncovering secrets about their origins and unlocking devastating abilities they never knew they had.

Book cover for Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy

Title: Girl One | Author: Sara Flannery Murphy | Publisher: MCD | Pub. Date: 1 June 2021 | Pages: 387 | ASIN: B08FGTY67X | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Source: Netgalley | Unstarred Review

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Girl One Review

Girl One begins with an interesting premise: Doctor Bellanger has managed to get a group of women pregnant without any male involvement. There are nine mothers and daughters and this story focuses, naturally, on the oldest girl nicknamed Girl One. With the exception of some flashbacks and reminiscing, all of the events occur after the group of nine women and their daughters have split up, and Girl One is enrolled in medical school because she wants to reproduce the Doctor’s discovery.

The book is essentially a road trip where the group picks up new members along the way and the goal is to figure out what happened to Girl One’s mother. She has gone missing at the start of the book and is presented as one of the key mothers in the original group. Violence is present so maybe she is dead. Or maybe she’s investigating a mystery involving the daughters. Let’s go figure it out.

There is some good character development as the story unfolds, particularly between Josie (girl one) and Cate another of the girls. There is action, with the story moving fairly briskly. Science-fiction, action, character development. This is my kind of story.

Or not. The truth is I set Girl One aside multiple times and finally finished it because I felt like I had to be able to provide a faithful and complete review. There are many questions that are raised in the story but never resolved. That’s OK on its own, maybe Ms. Murphy is leaving the door open for a follow-up. But it’s not OK when the people wrapped up in the mystery of those unanswered questions seem totally uninterested in answering them. There is an interesting series of revelations that are specific to each girl. How did they occur? No idea. Are the girls freaked out or voicing frustration about not knowing the origin? Nope. There is the mystery of how the Doctor brought new life into the world without involving men, and it is treated as a mystery. But there is a suggestion that there is a different story behind that, and when the key people mentioned in that story reach the stage they are not interrogated about their roles or what really happened. Finally, there is a whipsaw effect around the good Doctor. He is Josie’s hero and he loved her, he was abusive and manipulative, no he was good, no he was … In the end the truth on that point is clear but it really was frustrating to read.

Girl One has an interesting premise to it, a good set of characters, lots of action, and a professional set of bones underneath it. Prospects were good but in the end, it just did not deliver. Thinking through what bothered me the most I think it was the notion of suspension of disbelief. If a reader can’t do that they should not read horror or sci-fi. However, the author has to have some explanation that at least prima facie supports. Too often that was missing in this work. I want to believe – just help me out a little bit more.


child death

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsUncategorizedUnstarred Reviews

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