William Morrow Pub
Nov 2nd, 2021
The Collective by Alison Gaylin delves into a parent’s worst nightmare, losing a child at the hands of someone else. There are a lot of moral gray areas in this one that make readers’ think about the very fine line between justice and revenge. Gaylin does a good job examining which is right, vengeance or getting justice. The idea: how far will a mother go to right a tragic wrong.
Readers meet Camille Gardener, a grieving and angry mother who lost her fifteen-year-old daughter, Emily five years ago. She is obsessed that Emily’s accused killer, Harris Blanchard, never faced any consequences for his actions. After being approached by a woman and handed a card, Camille decides to go on the dark web to join a group called The Collective. This group is made up of other mothers who have been wronged and want justice. The online collective shares their stories of loss with graphic depictions of revenge on those they think were not sufficiently punished. Camille feels she has finally found an outlet for her anger. Readers understand there are issues of grief, revenge, hatred, and a justice system that can be navigated by the rich and powerful.
The Collective is a group that believes in vigilante justice, the thin line between justice and vengeance. They are fueled by a “collective” rage. If there is anything scarier than an angry person, it is a group of angry people. They want justice for their children. It is like an organism. The Collective’s quest for justice consumed them with their own loss and grief. The people seeking justice became as ugly as the perpetrators.”
What Camille is constantly living with is how her daughter Emily was given alcohol, taken into the woods by Blanchard, raped, and left to fend for herself on a bitter cold January night. By the time she was found, she was suffering from exposure, and died there days later. After the culprit was acquitted, Camille got a divorce, and she never was able to overcome her grief and anger.
“She is broken. The loss of her child changed her where she now leads a bleak existence. It is hard for her to move on. She is no longer the glamorous happy woman she once was. She has this unhealed wound that makes her powerless and insecure.”
There is a twisted ending that will leave readers floored as Camille struggles to understand if having all that rage is something beneficial. This thriller is filled with loss, grief, and merciless revenge.