Cover Image: Girl Last Seen

Girl Last Seen

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Member Reviews

Laurin's book is disturbing and suspenseful. It is fast paced, yet the reader is able to enjoyably watch things unfold. The ultimate resolution is a bit muddled, but provides a great twisty ending that will satisfy. Ella/Laine isn't written as a very sympathetic character, but the reader can't help but have some sympathy that she is the result of the terrifying things that have happened to her. Her reactions are very realistic for her situation, and add significantly to the tale.
Twenty years ago, Ella Santos disappeared. She reappears years later. Now, Olivia Shaw is missing. Ella, who now goes by the name Laine, is drawn to these types of cases, but Olivia's hits too close to home — she looks almost exactly like Laine did as a child when she went missing. Laine starts to experience some frightening things, and she discovers an eerie connection to Olivia. What happened to Laine when she was a child, and can she help to find out what happened to Olivia?
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This is dark but well done. Ella was abducted and abused when she was a child and now she's changed her name and her life= and she's determined to help another little girl.  A page turner.
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I was drawn into the story very quickly but then as it progressed and I realized where it was going I started to lose interest. Twisted but in a very unrealistic way for me. I will try another book by this author and hope that the next one hits the target for me.
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The summary of this book sounded so intriguing, but it just wasn't put together very well. The whodunnit part was predictable and not very interesting, and the book just didn't flow really well. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this one.
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Fast-paced, enthralling debut novel. But dark... very dark. 

"Everyone has scars. Even if they're not on the outside."

Our protagonist is Ella Santos - though now she goes by the name of Laine Moreno. When she was just ten years old she was abducted and held hostage for three years - bound - in a cellar. Raped repeatedly, she was finally driven to a roadside and released. Thirteen years old, pregnant, and permanently damaged...

"My life ended in that basement. It's just that my body forgot to die for some reason."

We meet her ten years later. She often has suicidal thoughts, she abuses drugs and alcohol, and she is alone - very alone. She works in a Seattle grocery store by day and at night she works as a bartender in a strip club. She lives a solitary life broken by episodes of being high. She wears long sleeved clothing and boots all the time to hide the scars on her wrists and ankles.  She trusts no one and alienates anyone who tries to befriend her.

Then one day she sees a flyer with the photo of another ten year old girl who is missing. The girl reminds her of herself.

The detective on the case is Sean Ortiz. The very same detective who found Laine on the roadside after she was released at age thirteen. The first face she saw after years in captivity.


If you like reading novels that explore the darker side of human nature, this just might be the book for you. With themes of abduction, rape, drug abuse, and more, this novel won't leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling that is for sure.

The rainy Seattle area setting was perfect as the setting exacerbated the dark subject matter.

Considering this was the author's debut novel, I thought the writing was outstanding. The book was dark yes, but the pace was fast and the characters well rendered. Sad, to the point of despair - yet even though we cannot fully understand the protagonist's psyche, we can empathize with her - and we do.

If you like novels that depict very flawed characters, I'm sure you will enjoy "Girl Last Seen". Laine is one of the most flawed protagonists I've read recently - and that is saying something.

I found myself riveted to the book, much to my dismay at times. It was SO dark, so twisted...  Now I find myself very much looking forward to reading this author's other two novels. They are both on my TBR.
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I thought that this book was okay.  I really liked certain aspects of the book while I found other aspects less impressive.  This book found its way onto my reading schedule largely because the premise of the book was quite intriguing in addition to positive reviews from others.  I did find the story to be rather interesting and I am glad that I decided to give it a try.

Lainey is a rather tragic character.  As a child, Lainey was taken and held captive for three years.  She carries a lot of emotional scars from her ordeal in addition to her physical ones.  They have never caught her captor.  Lainey is really just getting by in her life.  She works a couple of entry-level jobs and lives in an apartment she can afford.  She uses chemicals to help herself deal with day to day life.

Everything changes when Lainey sees a poster for a missing girl.  She knows right away that this girl is connected to her case and she knows that the girl is in danger.  Lainey feels compelled to help find the girl before it is too late.  She finds herself working with the police and even her parents to get to the bottom of what has really happened.

I liked the basic story but had a few issues.  It seemed like everyone kept crossing boundaries with Lainey.  Not only did I hate seeing these things happen to Lainey, but they also didn't always feel authentic to me.  It never felt right that Lainey would have been given so much access to a case being actively investigated by the police.  She was anything but qualified!  I really had a hard time connecting with Lainey or any of the characters. 

I thought that Vanessa Johansson did a great job with the narration.  I think that this was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to her narration work and I really enjoyed the way she read the story.  She did a great job with various character voices and added a lot of intensity to the mystery. 

I do think that a lot of readers might like this one a bit more than I did.  I thought it was a compelling mystery with an interesting twist.  I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Nina Laurin's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.
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Though I liked the book, I made the decision at the time I finished not to review it on my site. I plan on doing a dual post with the next book.
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It was a good book, the pacing was good and the ending was really, really unpredictable. Overall a nice read. Though the characterization wasn't as good as I had expected.
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Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Girl Last Seen.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

When Olivia Shaw goes missing from her elementary school, the case has similarities to the disappearance of Ella Santos thirteen years before.  The missing girl bears a striking resemblance to Ella, who now goes by the name of Laine Moreno.  When the police reveal the girl's true identity to Laine, will she work with the detective in charge to save her?

The beginning of Girl Last Seen was quite good, with the suspense building over both Olivia's disappearance and Ella's unexpected release by her captor.  The book quickly goes off the rails, however, with regards to the plot.  Certain twists are put into the plot with no anchor to any backstory.  The reader is left to flounder with the new information until such time that the author gets around to explaining it.  Some of the aspects of the plot just did  not seem realistic, especially the police response to both Laine's story and her investigation.  For these reasons, I would be hesitant to recommend Girl Last Seen to other readers.
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I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up liking Girl Last Seen.  The story involves Laine who was kidnapped and escaped 13 years before.  Now, another little girl has gone missing and she bears a resemblance to Laine as a child.  Laine's life is not great, having never really been able to move past all that happened to her. She ends up getting involved in the hunt for the missing child.

I will admit that I almost DNF'd the book because the main character was extremely unlikable as well as unreliable in the beginning.  Sometimes it's hard to connect with a character like Laine.    However, as I got to know Laine, I found myself rooting for her.  Because, really, she never had a chance at a great life.  I didn't always agree with her decisions, but I could understand her motivation behind them. 

I am glad that I stuck with it. The book is definitely dark and not a "cozy" mystery.  There were a few scenes that made me uncomfortable, so readers should know that going into the book.  There were a few twists that surprised me. One is right toward the beginning.  It was definitely that twist that made me want to keep reading the book.  I highly recommend this debut novel.  I look forward to more from this author in the future.
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Girl Last Seen is a great thriller and filled with twists and turns that I never saw coming! I thought I knew who to suspect, but Girl Last Seen had me guessing until the very end. It was a huge surprise for me and I'll admit - I stayed up late to finish the book because I had to see how it ended! It was certainly a shock for me. This kept my attention and I loved the unique plot with the mother and daughter angle. I haven't seen that before. 

Ella, now Lainey - or Laine, as she prefers, was kidnapped thirteen years ago. She has suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a young adult, she has panic attacks, finds it hard to keep a job, and is addicted to drugs to help her keep the demons at bay. 

However, one day when she arrives at work at her day job, she finds out a young girl has been kidnapped. It turns out Laine and this new girl, Olivia, have a special connection. Olivia is the daughter Laine was pregnant with when she escaped her kidnapper 13 years ago. 

Suddenly, Laine is unwillingly drawn back into the spotlight with the same detective who found her 13 years ago, and Olivia's adoptive parents. Due to her current lifestyle, she may also be a suspect in Olivia's disappearance. 

It was awfully sad to read about the tremendous amount of self-loathing Laine feels for herself throughout the book. It's heartbreaking to see how the system can fail a child so miserably. And she is incredibly self destructive for most of the book. You can see why the police see her as a suspect in her daughter's kidnapping. 

I appreciated Olivia's adoptive mother's affection for Laine. Jacqueline Shaw seems to see beyond Laine's gruff exterior and tries to see the hurt teenage girl she was underneath. Laine doesn't do well with Jacqueline's efforts, but she does seem to grow to understand her somewhat.

Content: Language
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Girl Last Seen started off really intriguing and I got through the first 20% of the book really quickly. Soon though, I felt myself slowly starting to push it away and not pick it up as often. The middle really lost it's touch for me and I just couldn't get into it as much as I hoped I would have. 

I do have to say, the last few chapters did pick up the pace but I think I was so disappointed with the middle part of the book that it still just didn't really do it for me. Plus even though I'm sure the ending could be surprising to most, It wasn't very surprising to me. 

As for characters, I liked Laine and I thought she was determined as ever but I really couldn't get myself to like Ortiz. Just something about him. 

As Girl Last Seen being a debut novel, I would consider reading something else from Nina Laurin in the future.
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I honestly could tell by the writing of the first 2 chapters that it wouldn't be a good fit for our box and had to put it down.  I may read it again in the future!
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First book of the year is a winner. A warning though - it was very dark. Violence against children is always a tough subject, but I feel that the author handled it well. It is a reminder that we live in a world where bad things are done to children. Things that cannot be outrun. I don't blame the main character for her drug habit. I feel that it was the only tool offered to her to cope. I know some people will have trouble with a protagonist abusing drugs, but it felt authentic to me.
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Wow what a suspenseful, thrilling book. The author was able to weave in the plot, characters, and mystery to create a heightening effect. Would recommend!
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Laine is working two jobs and trying to support herself and it is revealed early on that she had a hard childhood with a major experience that forever changed who she was.  While working one of her jobs, she sees a missing report, but this one seems different from the rest and pulls her in to figure out what happened to this girl.  

I loved the premise of this story and the first half worked so well for me, but somewhere half way thru I got lost and couldn't really get back into it.  There was a big thing about her past and what happened to her and how it happened that I just didn't get nor enjoy.  I actually rolled my eyes and got frustrated with the book because I just didn't think it worked with the rest of the story.

With all of that, the plot of the story was unique and there are details that I don't want to spoil that made this different from other missing girls books and I liked that.  I just wanted a few of the other things that happened to go a different way - sorry to be vague, but I don't want to ruin someone else's experience by revealing major plot points.  

I enjoyed Laine's present day life and I enjoyed her connection to the Olivia Shaw case.  I even enjoyed who ended up bring the kidnapper and liked their connection to all of it.  

So I am officially on the fence on this one.  There were major parts that I loved and how the plot unfolded, but there were also big parts that didn't work for me at all.  I will say this was a good debut and I would be interested in reading more for this author, but hope the next story is completely solid and a good book from beginning to end.
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Wow, just wow. I was captivated by the premise of this book, and Nina Laurin lived up to the promise of the premise! 
I so appreciate an author that can keep rolling out the twists and turns, make them believable within the context of the story, and not telegraph. The pacing of Girl Last Seen is even though fast - the fun of a rollercoaster for sure. Character profiles are rich and layered, and the story is woven tightly and well. I would love to read more from Nina Laurin based on the skill displayed in Girl Last Seen.
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After reading this, I saw in the author’s bio that this was Nina’s debut novel and I could not believe it!  Ms. Laurin has flown out of the gates as a thriller writer, I cannot wait to see what she does with a sophomore novel!  

Review: 3 ½ Stars – Rounded up to 4 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017

Why I chose this book: Simply put, I was seeking another thriller/suspense novel after reading (and enjoying) The Good Girl by Mary Kubica and this book’s cover description stuck with me.  

Why I liked this book:  The author did an incredible job exploring profound, controversial themes in relation to the standard “girl gone missing” thriller novel.  Nina Laurin wove addiction, betrayal and dysfunctional families into her story about a woman, Laine, trying to find her place in the world after surviving a kidnapper whom kept her locked away for three years.  While Laine is still trying to find her way in life, struggling with addiction and “mommy issues,” she comes across a “Girl Last Seen,” missing flyer with the description of a child similar in appearance and age to when she herself went missing and Laine can’t help but think it’s the same kidnapper, a kidnapper they never caught after she herself was found.  Nina does an incredible job weaving Laine’s internal struggles into her interactions with the police, her own relationships and the kidnapped child’s family.  I had a hard time putting this book down as each chapter left me on the edge of my seat wanting to read on.
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Actually 3.5 stars...wish that were an option! This is a disturbing book....but it kept me guessing right till the end. Well written dialog, quick read and a page turning thriller.
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Ten years ago, Ella now Laine was discovered along the roads by an officer. She was found raped and pregnant and with no memory of her time in captivity. She had no family to go back to either as they didn't want her. Now ten years later, Laine looks every day as a hobby and compulsion at the missing person posters, waiting for her killer to strike again. This time he has as a girl at ten years old has gone missing, and she bears a strong resemblance to Laine. Ten-year-old Olivia Shaw has disappeared, and it seems she has been abducted and her family wants her back. They will do anything to get her back even going as far as to contact her biological mother - Ella/ Laine. With the clock ticking, can Ella/Laine work with the detectives and the Shaw family to find Olivia? What will happen though when secrets and dark ones at that about the Shaw family start to trickle out and put both Ella and Olivia in more danger? I have to admit, this was a slow mystery, and I would have liked to have read a bit more about Ella's disappearance and time in captivity, but I did have to say the twist and identity of her captor surprised me as I didn't see that coming. If you are in the mood for a new author to read and love missing person stories, then check out Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin today.
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