author: Alison Gaylin
published: 2 November 2021
publisher: William Morrow
source: Book of the Month
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub | BookHype | Goodreads
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.
The Collective is a wild ride! It’s a roller coaster of emotions, and it’s incredibly thought-provoking. How far would you go to avenge your loved ones?
The concept is fantastic, and it sets up a bizarre dynamic for a reader. Most of the time, there is a fairly clear line between what’s good and what’s bad, characters on one side of the other. And, as readers, we’re supposed to root for the good. But that line is gone in this book. It’s impossible not to feel for Camille, to feel her pain and her grief. There’s a feeling of “you do the damn thing” for these mothers, for seeking their own brand of justice for their loved ones after the system failed them.
It’s a book that resides solely in the gray area of morality, which is why it’s so thought-provoking. There’s a fine line between justice and revenge, and this makes you consider just where that line is and how willing you would be to step over it. But as Camille questions the things they do in The Collective, it drives home the point that there are issues with vigilante justice. Sometimes you just can’t be entirely certain you are doing the right thing.
Do you need to suspend reality from time to time? Of course, but that’s the point of fiction, isn’t it? And the plot twists are so very worth it. So engrossing!
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