Who doesn’t love a sure bet? A book capitalizes on the popularity of a bestseller will be certain to sell quickly to a fan base already ravenous for a similar plot or tone. Publishers seek to leverage readers’ positive associations to stir up demand for their own new titles before the trend passes by.

On the heels of a hit release, imitation book covers and titles begin appearing everywhere, sequels are hurriedly penned and options for film/tv rights are snapped up. This can be true even if the follow-up has only a superficial resemblance to the original.

One of the starkest examples of this has been going strong for quite a while. The runaway success stories of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and Girl on a Train have unleashed a slew of offerings designed to capture the same audience.

For this month’s blog, I was curious about the continued fascination with these recent “Girl” books and I wanted to see how many examples I could find. Below is just a sampling of books that have been published in the past 6 years, all with titles beginning: “The Girl Who…” These should not be dismissed as opportunistic copycats, but original works that deserve to be judged on their own merit.

The Girl Who Could Breathe Under WaterThe Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels

"Award-winning novelist Erin Bartels searches the heart with this lyrical exploration of how a friendship dies, how we can face the unforgiveable, and how even those who have been hurt can learn to love with abandon."

The Girl Who Was TakenThe Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

"...a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn't and the forensics expert searching for answers."

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her MindThe Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford

"Full of imagination, wit and random sh*t flying through the air, this insane adventure from an irreverent new voice will blow your tiny mind."

The Girl Who LivedThe Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

"A story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness."

The Girl Who SurvivedThe Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

"In this deviously volatile, deliciously creepy thriller from the #1 New York Times bestseller, the lone survivor of a brutal family massacre must uncover the awful truth about the fateful night that left her forever marked."

The Girl Who Wasn't ThereThe Girl Who Wasn't There by Penny Joelson

"[Kasia's] illness keeps her home for days at a time, with little to do but watch the world from her bedroom window. So when she witnesses what looks like a kidnapping, she's not sure she can believe her own eyes... So she sets out to find the only other witness. The girl in the window across the street."

The Girl Who DiedThe Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson (Victoria Cribb, trans.)

"Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track..."

The Girl Who Loved Tom GordonThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

"On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland...becomes lost in a wilderness maze full of peril and terror."

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the SeaThe Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

"Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering."

The Girl Who Knew Too MuchThe Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

"Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part, transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…"

The Girl Who Wasn't ThereThe Girl Who Wasn't There by Vincent Zandri

"With the village police assuming that Sidney, an ex-con with a history of prison violence, is responsible for his daughter’s disappearance, Sidney is left with no choice—he needs to take the law into his own hands—not only to expose the truth about what’s developing into a conspiracy of Biblical proportions, but also to render his own particular brand of rough justice."

Summaries sourced from publishers' marketing materials

January's Featured Reviews

The Other Black GirlThe Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Last Girl GhostedLast Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

Hop on the Holds List

1. The Shards – Bret Easton Ellis (1/17)

2. Don't Fear the Reaper – Stephen Graham Jones (2/7)

3. Victory City – Salman Rushdie (2/7)

4. Someone Else’s Shoes – Jojo Moyes (2/7)

5. I Have Some Questions for You – Rebecca Makkai (2/21)

Recent Readings

I have recently finished reading The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams and Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey. I also just finished listening to Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Right now, I am reading Confidence by Rafael Frumkin (to be released this March) and The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett. I am also currently enjoying the audiobook version of The Unheard by Nikki French

Have any good reading goals for 2023? Let me know at jnmegan@gpl.org. One of my own goals is to revisit some "classics" that I never got a chance (or inclination) to finish.

Until next time: Be safe, be well and be well-read!


So, who am I, anyway? I am a resident of West Groton, with a husband, 3 children in college (and one at GDRHS) and a Samoyed that keeps my vacuum well-employed. I am currently working part time at the Groton Public Library and in a former life I was a Director or PR/Marketing at a high-tech consulting firm. My BA is in Psychology, but most of my time was spent in college earning a Concentration on the Novel. That is all to say that I make no claims at being an expert of any kind and my thoughts, opinions and mistakes are solely my own. I am just a person whose passion for books has continued to grow from the moment I was first able to grip and gnaw on them. I have been devouring them ever since.

Jan 01, 2023 / Joelle M Egan