Title: The Different Girl
Author: Gordon Dahlquist
Genre: Science Fiction
Veronica, Caroline, Isobel, and Eleanor are exactly the same, except for the color of their hair. They spend their days in sync, tasked to learn, isolated on an island with their adult caretakers. Every day, the girls go about their day-to-day activities with calm precision, analyzing their surroundings to perfection. But when May, a very different kind of girl, suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is held up to the life the girls never before questioned.
I picked this up for one reason – I needed a workout book, and The Different Girl stayed open on the elliptical. I thought it sounded slightly interesting, but the back cover was too vague for me to get really excited about it.
Veronika was the narrator. At first I thought she was a lot like me – if she had any emotions, she kept them tightly under wraps. Like the other three girls, she was eerily logical and had a strange way of thinking. I’m not quite sure how to describe it; almost like an unnatural blend of fact and theory, but that’s not quite it.
I think the strangest think about these girls was how similar they were. They thought the same, they acted the same, they had the same ideas and the same opinions. There were minor differences, which Veronika went out of her way to point out, but they really were exactly the same.
I didn’t even realize how strange these girls were until May – a normal girl – shows up. Her past is a mystery. And the plot hinges on her. Half of it is the four girls trying to figure out how to deal with May, and the other half is not quite explained, but May being there is a bad, dangerous thing.
Even by the end of the book, I still have thousands of questions – about the girls, about May, about what exactly happened. But I think that’s the point. Underneath the words on the page are undercurrents of themes: asking questions, learning from observation, thinking differently. Somehow, it feels like answers would ruin it.
The Different Girl was a different book. It was fascinating and uninteresting, familiar and strange, brilliant and tense and disturbing all at the same time. I wouldn’t read it again, but I don’t regret the read.