Now Reading
Book Review: Not Like Other Girls by Meredith Adamo

Book Review: Not Like Other Girls by Meredith Adamo

To be a woman in this world is to be painfully familiar with the words ‘she was asking for it’ or ‘she deserved it’. As if we should be held responsible for other people’s decisions and actions based on how we dress or the way we pose for photos. It’s certainly something that Jo Kirby, the central character in Meredith Adamo’s Not Like Other Girls, understands only too well. She used to be the perfect high school girl: popular, bright, class president. But then nude photos of her were leaked to the entire school and suddenly her charmed life was torn away. Overnight she became a social outcast – difficult, reckless, damaged. And all because of the actions of a spiteful teenage boy.

The leaked photos might have led to Jo’s current social disgrace and academic failure but that’s not where her troubles began. It’s not where they end either. When her former best friend Maddie disappears, everyone assumes Maddie ran away. But Jo’s not so sure. To discover the truth, she needs to infiltrate her old social circle. That means cosying up to the clique of girls who shunned her and the entitled boys who betrayed her. The only way back in is through Hudson, an old fling with his own reasons for finding Maddie, who persuades Jo to fake date him. But as their pretend feelings blur with their real ones, the truth of Maddie’s disappearance begins to come to light. And so do the long-hidden secrets from Jo’s past…

God, my fall from grace was so swift and sudden that I never saw it coming. For so long, I was the cool girl. I was loud and fun and untouchable, always hanging with the guys – no girls allowed but me. Then those six photos got out, and I realised real fast how they really see me.

Not Like Other Girls isn’t the first book to address the themes of toxic masculinity, bullying, power and consent, but it’s the way that Adamo writes these themes, with simultaneous candidness and sensitivity, that allows readers to empathise so deeply with Jo. She’s a forceful character with a strong mind and wilful spirit, even after being completely downtrodden and belittled by her supposed friends. It’s that inherent fight in her that refuses to accept that Maddie simply ran away. And it’s that same fight that forces Jo to confront her own trauma, a weight she didn’t even realise she was carrying, and reflect on who was really to blame for it.

There might be a deeper element to Not Like Other Girls, one that explores what it’s really like to be young and naive in a world that’s not always kind to girls, but this is still a YA thriller at heart. Adamo cleverly utilises the twisty mystery formula to ensure readers are kept guessing from the opening chapter, right up to the end. Because Maddie’s disappearance is just one piece in a much bigger, much more disturbing puzzle, and Jo’s determined to put the pieces together, then smash it all apart. It’s made all the more irresistible by the fake dating trope, which is equal parts sweet and sizzling. By writing Hudson as such a perceptive and self-deprecating, yet authentically flawed love interest, Adamo gives readers a new heart-stealer to add to the YA book boyfriend list.

If you’re looking for a story that combines serious real-world issues with a multi-layered mystery and YA characters that aren’t all they seem on the surface, then Not Like Other Girls is the book for you. The fact that Adamo has such a personal connection to Jo’s story, and therefore understands firsthand why such stories need to be told, means that this is a novel that you won’t be able to forget in a hurry too.


Not Like Other Girls was published by Bloomsbury YA on 30 April 2024

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.