Sometimes an easy read thriller is just what the doctor ordered. The Collective by Alison Gaylin is what my bookish friend Laurie from @bookaddictpnw calls "brain candy." It doesn't take much effort to read and satisfies that sweet tooth that calls for fast paced, mindless reading. While this one isn't a Booker Prize nominee by any stretch of the imagination, it fit the bill for what I was in the mood for.
The Collective follows grieving mother, Camille Gardener, who tragically lost her daughter five years ago. Camille has an unhealthy obsession with the privileged college boy who she believes murdered her daughter but was found innocent during trial. After an embarrassing public incident, Camille is approached by a mysterious woman who tells her about a support group for mothers like her. This group, known as "the collective" opens a new world to Camille where she just might get the revenge, she has been seeking all these years.
I enjoyed aspects of this story and found others pretty standard when it comes to psychological thrillers. Camille is not the most likeable character, but it's impossible to not have a soft spot for her. She lost her teenage daughter for cripes sake! Camille is a lost soul until she finds common ground with the other members of the collective, which resides on a dark web chatroom. Camille starts to get "assignments" that give her a sense of purpose, but soon these tasks turn deadly, and she questions her allegiance to the cause.
This story has a lot of build up with an unexpected "whodunnit" twist at the end. I am happy to report that I did not predict the ending! I was pleasantly surprised with how the book wrapped up, though I do have some lingering questions that I felt the author left unanswered. It is also a pretty depressing story, any story that centers around the loss of a child is a tough one to read, so be aware of the content/trigger warnings noted below.
As far as thrillers go, this one was pretty decent. Not the best one I have read, but I can see why people are giving it good reviews. For those new to thrillers or the sub-genre psychological thrillers, give The Collective try and let me know what you think. You can easily finish this one in a weekend and it's not creepy in the sense that it will keep you up at night.
Content warnings: death of child, sexual assault, rape, murder
3.5 - 4 stars
"Nothing's guaranteed-not future plans or justice or love or goodwill or the integrity of groups to whom you swear your allegiance."