My Review | The Collective

Photo shows the book cover of The Collective by Alison Gaylin - Photo by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads -

The USA Today bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of Never Look Back and If I Die Tonight plumbs the dark side of justice and the depths of diabolical revenge in this propulsive novel of psychological suspense that melds the driving narrative of Then She Was Gone with the breathtaking twists of The Chain and the violent fury of Kill Bill.

“Alison Gaylin’s The Collective is an astonishing feat. In the tradition of Ira Levin’s unforgettable social thrillers (Rosemary’s Baby, Stepford Wives), it’s a nerve-shredding, emotionally harrowing ride that also speaks volumes about our current moment, the dangers of our digital world, the potency of female rage. Don’t miss it.” —Megan Abbott

Just how far will a grieving mother go to right a tragic wrong?

Camille Gardner is a grieving—and angry—mother who, five years after her daughter’s death, is still obsessed with the privileged young man she believes to be responsible.

When her rash actions attract the attention of a secret group of women—the collective— Camille is drawn into a dark web where these mothers share their wildly different stories of loss as well as their desire for justice in a world where privilege denies accountability and perpetrators emerge unscathed. Fueled by mutual rage, these women orchestrate their own brand of justice through precise, anonymous, complexly plotted and perfectly executed revenge killings, with individual members completing a specific and integral task in each plan.

As Camille struggles to comprehend whether this is a role-playing exercise or terrifying reality, she must decide if these women are truly avenging angels or monsters. Becoming more deeply enmeshed in the group, Camille learns truths about the collective—and about herself—that she may not be able to survive.

For my November Book of the Month I picked The Collective by Alison Gaylin. The plot completely caught my eye, a grieving mother, a group of angry women, the dark web, you know, interesting concepts. In my review I’ll talk about Gaylin’s. This features Camille Gardner as she goes through the troubles of losing her only daughter while her killer roams free. But when she joins the Collective, a group of grieving mothers on the dark web, it makes her question how far she’s willing to go to get revenge. Does she actually want her daughter’s killer dead? If so, how far is she willing to go to make that a reality? The Collective takes us on a journey of not only grief, but the rigorous actions of seeking vengeance.

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.”

The Collective starts with us getting to know the grieving Camille Gardner going to a ceremony for Harris Blanchard. A college senior at Brayburn, who is about to receive an award for his academics successes. He is the last person to see Emily, Camille’s daughter, alive five years prior. As Harris receives his reward she causes a whole scene. Her freak-out is posted on the internet for the whole world to see. Camille tries her best to camouflage back into society, continuing the best way she can. She joins other groups for grieving mothers but it’s not enough. 

It is tiring hearing the same stories over and over again, she wants justice. Soon Camille comes across another group known as the Collective, residing in the dark web. Here, these anonymous women speak about destroying their children’s murderers. Any type of torture method they can think of, they are free to type away. When Camille does the same they ask her a serious question, does she actually want Harris Blanchard dead? What comes next is a series of assignments that soon turn too real for Camille to comprehend. Quickly she starts to question what the real motives behind this group are. Her allegiance to these anonymous sisters may be more than just these assignments. They may spill in to her personal life, as well. 

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The Collective is filled with surprises especially with a great twist towards the end. There are times where the story has to slow down to give some exposition. I didn’t mind at first but sometimes the paragraphs get a bit too clunky with nothing interesting. Just about Camille being sad about her life, her only friend, and reading her facebook group chats. To me I found it to get a bit tedious. As soon as Camille started doing her assignments for the group, that’s when things got interesting. 

I really like Camille’s character as she is fully realistic. All she wants to do is vent about her feelings and move on. Obviously she doesn’t want to hurt people. But that’s not how the Collective works. Paranoia creeps in Camille’s mind as she starts to question everyone around her. Even I got nervous at times. Not being able to trust any women she came across, knowing the Collective was everywhere, seeing people start to disappear. Gaylin’s writing is truly noteworthy! Honestly this whole story is made for a movie, that’s how entertaining it is.

"Our loss has turned to rage that is permanent, strong, impenetrable. We are the face of the mountain and we will not be moved. We will not forgive. We will not sleep until the unpunished feel the pain they deserve."

While I did enjoy everything else about the book the last few pages are fine. I had to suspend my belief for a little bit but I didn’t hate it. There was enough fun and entertainment for me to enjoy everything else. The Collective tied up pretty decently with no plot holes. A great thriller, filled with intense scenes, and interesting characters. With a a fresh plot containing loads of twists and turns. First time reading any of Alison Gaylin’s work and it most definitely won’t be my last. I highly suggest reading this especially if you like a little danger.






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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them.