By Julie Kish                    

Luckiest Girl Alive is a novel by Jessica Knoll, published by Simon & Schuster in 2015. This New York Times bestseller is the basis for the movie of the same name that was partly filmed in Centennial this summer.

Ani appears to have a charmed New York City life. She writes for a popular women’s magazine and is engaged to a good-looking, wealthy guy. But she has a dark, troubling past that comes back to haunt her after she agrees to participate in a documentary about a traumatic event that took place at her high school when she was 14 years old.

The premise of Jessica Knoll’s debut novel is intriguing, but I found it challenging to follow Ani on her journey of self-discovery because she is such an unlikeable character. Not only is she materialistic, snobbish and entitled, but she is also constantly criticizing other women and throwing herself at men.

I might be more sympathetic and accept that her character flaws resulted from the traumatic events of her adolescence, but she is nasty before the trauma. She is appallingly rude to her parents and will do anything, no matter how hurtful, to be with the popular kids. She is a character straight out of Mean Girls, and there is no reasonable explanation for her awful pre-trauma behaviour.

Later, when she is horribly victimized and bullied, I am troubled by my unsympathetic attitude and curse myself for falling into the trap of blaming the victim. 

Perhaps the author tries to make Ani annoyingly despicable to emphasize her transformation, but it doesn’t quite work. I still don’t like her at the end of the novel.

It’s a dark story and the author does an excellent job of building suspense through a slow burn and a palpable feeling of foreboding, particularly in the second half of the book.

Mila Kunis will play the protagonist in the movie version of the story, which may improve the character’s relatability. I can’t imagine finding Mila Kunis unlikeable, so this might be a situation where the movie is better than the book.