Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

The Blurb On The Back:

IMOGEN is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook and a cheat.

JULE is a fighter, a social chameleon and an athlete.

IMOGEN and JULE.  JULE and IMOGEN. 

An intense friendship.  A disappearance.  A murder, or maybe two.  A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood and chocolate.  The American dream, superheroes, spies and villains.

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.

A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

A girl who is … a genuine fraud. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s the third week in June, 2017.  18-year-old Jule West Williams is staying at an expensive resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Jule has been having a good time over the past 4 weeks, working out in the gym, swimming in the pool and joking with the pool barman.  The only problem is that she’s told everyone her name is Imogen Sokoloff and now a detective is looking for her.  Why is Jule posing as Imogen and why is she on the run?  To get the answers you have to go into Jule’s past, into the various incidents in her life from 2017 all the way back to June 2016 …

E Lockhart’s YA psychological thriller is for the most part a well-constructed, gripping story that owes more than a passing debt to THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY while making great use of consecutive flashbacks to create tension, mystery and establish Jule and her relationship with Imogen but is ultimately let down by Imogen being thinly drawn and an anti-climactic ending that left me really disappointed.

There was a lot about this book that I enjoyed – the flashback device was great and I really admired how Lockhart uses it to layer up Jule’s character and create mystery and tension while at the same time slowly revealing lies and inconsistencies in a way that I found completely fascinating.  Jule in a fascinating character and although her origin story didn’t really satisfy me (and I don’t know if that’s intentional as it’s part of the lies and legend she’s built up around herself or whether it’s just mundane truth), I liked the layers of her psychopathy and how she’s driven to be the hero of her own story.

Unfortunately Imogen isn’t nearly so interesting and although that’s partly the point (i.e. that Jule has built up an impression of who she thinks Imogen is and the importance of their friendship) the scenes we get between the two of them are so different to what we’ve been told that they’re inevitably disappointing.  On top of that Imogen is such a two-dimensional poor little rich girl who manipulates those around her that it’s difficult to have any sympathy for her or for Jule.

Although Lockhart acknowledges a nod to THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, structurally the plots are too similar for this to be a truly original read (which does spoil it a little if you’re familiar with that book/movie) although there is fun to be had in spotting the influences.  The biggest problem is that after a long build up, the ending is a massive anti-climax and one that left me with some questions (notably why Imogen’s boyfriend would have formed such a nonsensical conclusion and then sold that to the police).

My criticisms aside, I did enjoy the vast majority of this book and will always check out what Lockhart writes because she’s such an interesting writer.

GENUINE FRAUD was released in the United Kingdom on 5th September 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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