Review: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

“The Favorite Sister” is my second read for Jessica Knoll, and I feel like the person who says “I like the premise, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m drawn to this for execution.” I felt this way about Knoll’s first book (which makes me sad because there are a ton of people I know who actually loved her first book), and that seems to be my end thoughts on this book as well. I definitely see things here that I really like. I’m just…not completely immersed in it.

“The Favorite Sister” is a darkly humored take on modern day reality TV social culture and feminism. (And when I say dark, I mean really daaaaark. Like watch these scenes through your fingers and cringe dark.) To its credit, it’s very on the nose and apt for its examinations into a group of women on a reality show with toxic levels of competition and pushes for relevance. While the story revolves around the murder of the protagonist’s sister (Brett) and notably her role in the events leading up to it, Kelly has her own motivations in the scheme of this story, and she’s a member of a group of women here who have very colorful personalities but clash in some rather jarring ways. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV culture, but I find myself fascinated by academic and social dissections of it, so this book definitely had appeal to me on one end, particularly underneath the layers of the interactions of the cast. Yet, the way this book toggles between that, the overarching mystery of what happened to Brett, and the past/present of it all – some of the better pieces of this narrative get lost in the shuffle and are more convoluted than they should be. That was my biggest gripe in the narrative and ultimately why it had me in some points, while losing me on others for appeal.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t put this book down for lack of intrigue – but it was definitely difficult to push through because of the pacing. I definitely want to continue looking into Knoll’s work because the appeal for her narration and characterization intrigues me with each book she writes, I just wish that this had been a better experience for me in terms of being able to savor it for what it offered.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

Note: I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher.

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