‘Girl Overboard’ by Sandra Block: A sun-drenched thriller for teens

This Girl Overboard book review takes a look at Sandra Block’s splashy new thriller, her first foray into YA.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sandra Block’s since I read The Girl Without a Name and Little Black Lies way back in 2015. I even got to interview her about her process and her future aspirations.

So, when I saw she was diving into YA with Girl Overboard, I knew I had to jump right in after her. I’ve been leaning heavily on the horror/thriller genre as of late, and this one was a surprisingly refreshing, sun-drenched read.

It starts off with Izzy, who’s on a cruise with her parents to Bermuda. You’d think she’d be ecstatic, but she’s got a lot on her mind (between her boyfriend and school back home), and the last place she wants to be is stuck on a boat with no distance from her mom and dad and little brother.

Then she meets Jade, who’s infinitely cooler than her and yet for some reason likes having Izzy around. Jade is there with her aunt and uncle, and feels pretty much the same way Izzy does about being on a cruise ship with a bunch of boring old people.

At least the two of them find solace in each other and a couple of other people their age. But when Jade disappears, Izzy realizes this isn’t paradise. And if she doesn’t stop snooping around, she could be next.

Girl Overboard is a quick and easy read, perfect for the beach or a boat ride of your own (just, uh, keep an eye on all your friends). This one is great for teens venturing into the thriller genre, or even grown-ups who want to stay out of the darkness that often comes with adult reads.

Block does an excellent job of capturing the teen voice. Jade has some real-world issues she’s dealing with, and yet as seriously as she contemplates her problems, she’s also flippant and rash, just as you’d expect a teenage girl to be.

While Izzy might be more level-headed, she’s also got problems of her own. These aren’t as heavy as Jade’s, but they’re no less life-or-death in Izzy’s eyes. I loved that the biggest problem in her life was her rocky relationship with her boyfriend and the fact that he asked her to do something she knows she shouldn’t.

Both of these young women are likeable characters, though more than that, they’re both flawed. Each makes terrible decisions and learns from their mistakes, and I was particularly happy to see the consequences for some of Izzy’s choices. She’ll remember a few of these tough lessons for the rest of her life, that’s for sure.

I’m keeping this Girl Overboard review spoiler-free, but I have to talk about the few twists and turns Sandra Block provides us with. I was happy that we got to spend so much time with Jade before she went missing because when that first incident finally took place, I cared so much more about what happened to her and how it affected Izzy.

It also allowed Block to introduce us to a few colorful characters that populate the page—most of whom become suspects later on in the story. Though you feel Jade’s disappearance looming for a good chunk of the book, there’s enough mystery to cling to that it doesn’t feel like you’re just waiting for the shoe to drop.

Nearly everyone is a suspect, and Block does a fantastic job of making you believe each and every person Izzy questions could have done the deed. They all have motivation and opportunity, and those are the kinds of mysteries my brain loves trying to solve. Which one is the most likely to have done it, and can our hero sniff them out before it’s too late?

The other aspect of this novel that I wanted to write about in my Girl Overboard book review was Block’s eye for detail. I felt like I was in a video game, collecting important details and adding them to my memory bank for later. By the end of the book, you realize every moment, every item, every off-hand comment had a purpose. Block was sure to connect the dots in one way or another, and that made for quite the satisfying ending.

‘Girl Overboard’ hit store shelves on May 3, 2022

Buy Girl Overboard by Sandra Block from Penguin Random House, Bookshop.org, Book Depository, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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