The Favorite Sister
I picked up a review copy of The Favorite Sister, the second novel by Jessica Knoll, thinking it would be right up my alley. The synopsis looked intriguing, and I’d heard a lot of good things about Ms. Knoll’s writing from people whose reading tastes run pretty similar to mine, so it seemed like a sure bet. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me, and, to be brutally honest, if I hadn’t promised to write a review, I most likely would have put it aside.
The novel centers around a reality TV show called Goal Diggers and the five women who are its stars. It’s a show about women who will do pretty much anything to remain on top of their chosen field, and the lower the women will stoop the better the show’s producers like it. Fortunately for those in charge of the show, but unfortunately for me as the reader, these five women are some of the cattiest people I’ve read about in quite some time, and there’s pretty much nothing they won’t do in order to stab one another in the back and improve their own on-screen popularity.
Brett is the most beloved by both fans and show executives. At just twenty-seven, she’s poised to take the world by storm. The company she’s founded has proven to be an overnight success, and her personal life is looking great, too. She has recently announced her engagement to her girlfriend, and she’s sure her role as the show’s token lesbian will keep her front and center in the minds of her fans.
Kelly is Brett’s older sister, and the two of them absolutely do not get along. She does her best to hide it, but she’s incredibly jealous of Brett’s success, and she’s ready and waiting for an opportunity to push her sister out of the limelight. The sisters were once close, but Brett’s rise to fame and power has come between them in a way Kelly never thought possible. And then, there’s the terrible secret they share, the secret that just might get one of them killed.
Stephanie is the oldest cast member, and the only one who isn’t white. She’s a best-selling author of erotic fiction whose personal life is nothing like the lives of her characters. Rumor has it her marriage is falling apart, but fans of the show aren’t nearly as interested in that as they are in finding out what caused the enormous rift between Brett and Stephanie. The two were once the best of friends, but now they can barely be in the same room without resorting to some kind of violence.
Lauren has a drinking problem, and that’s probably the only reason she made it onto the show. She plays the part of a woman in recovery while the cameras are rolling, but things are far more complicated than that in real life. Does Brett know more than she’s telling about Lauren’s past, and, if so, how far will Lauren go to make sure her secrets are safe?
Jen is the newest addition to the Goal Diggers cast. Her vegan food range has made her more famous than she ever dreamed she could be, and she’s determined to make the most of her time on the show. She and Lauren have struck up a very uneasy alliance, but neither woman is sure the other one can be trusted, and Jen is possibly the most ruthless of the five would-be superstars.
When Brett is murdered, the lives of the remaining cast members are turned up-side-down. They should be able to trust one another, but hidden agendas and long-held grudges make that pretty much impossible. Suddenly, the set of Goal Diggers becomes a place where no one feels safe and it soon becomes obvious that one of them knows far more than she’s telling about what really happened to Brett.
Normally, I would fly through a book like this one. I usually love reading about ruthless women who will stop at nothing to ensure their own success, but Ms. Knoll’s writing just didn’t work for me. First off, the characters are all extremely difficult to like. I’m not exaggerating when I say that none of them was even the slightest bit redeemable, and while I don’t expect to love everyone in a book like this, I do want at least one character I can comfortably root for.
I also struggled to follow the plot. The timeline is all over the place, and it was difficult to keep the sequence of events straight in my mind. I had to go back and reread sections just to make sure I understood when certain things were supposed to have taken place. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was too confused to really care anymore. I just wanted to reach the end so I could move on to something more enjoyable.
I couldn’t drum up enough interest to care about the identity of Brett’s killer. The mystery might have been more engaging if the characters had been more sympathetic and the plot less chaotic, but as it was, I was just glad to reach the end of the story. This is not a book I can recommend, and I doubt I’ll be reading anything else by this author.