I love a good binge-able thriller now and then, especially to break up some of the heavier lit fic I have been reading lately. Pretty Things by Janelle Brown is just that. Two women, who are wildly different, one a grifter who proceeds from one scam to the next, the other a heiress and social media influencer whose life appears picture perfect on her Instagram feed. A "con gone wrong" brings these two face to face. A thriller with a social media influencer twist? I'm so there. I highly recommend Pretty Things if you like slow burning thrillers with lots of character development.
Nina and Vanessa could not be more different. Nina had a hard childhood, raised by a mother who was constantly switching jobs and on the move, she learned how to scrap by with what she had. Even if that means running a con or two and leaving victims in her wake. Vanessa lived a childhood of luxury, being born into an affluent family, her life appeared picture perfect. She became a social media fashion blogger/influencer with a following in the half million, but behind the perfectly poised photographs, is a lonely woman who is barely keeping it together. Nina and Vanessa cross paths when Nina and her con-artist boyfriend, Lachlan, rent out Vanessa's family estate in Lake Tahoe. Nina has past experience with the estate and reason to believe there might be millions hidden away in a safe that could change her and Lachlan's life forever.
Overall, I liked this one! What prompted me to read it is Tina @tbretc is hosting an author interview with Janelle Brown to discuss spoilers. Pretty Things had been sitting on my shelf for awhile, so that gave me a push to read it. If you are interested in attending, she is hosting the interview on IG on Monday, 4/12/2021 at 7pm CT.
What I liked about this thriller is there is more character development than you usually get with this genre. The book is split into multiple sections from both Nina and Vanessa's perspectives. I love when an author crafts a book in that way because you can see the story come to life from all angles and it's fun to "know more" than the characters as the plot develops. Nina learns most of her thieving ways from her mother and she is fiercely loyal to her. This relationship plays out throughout the story and I loved the twists and turns.
I am looking forward to Tina's discussion with Janelle Brown, as readers don't often get to talk to authors about spoilers in their book and writing process.
If you are looking for a slow burn thriller with character development, social media influencer themes, and privilege and class themes, look no further than Pretty Things.
"And I realized, with sudden clarity, a second intention behind my mother's life choices, the ulterior motive behind her (formerly!) thieving ways. We lived with our faces pressed up against the glass, looking through it at those who had so much more, watching as they so casually rubbed our faces in their privilege."
"On social media it's all or nothing: lavish praise or appalled outrage; sycophants or trolls. Caption-and-comment culture in all its brevity leaves out the middle ground, where most of life is found."
"We live in a world of surface imagery, skimming past each other, registering just enough to assign a category and label before moving on to the next shiny thing."
"But I suppose that's the point of it all, for Vanessa; to throw herself into the world she wants to inhabit in the hopes of forgetting the one in which she really lives."