Member Reviews

We get a brief glimpse of Nina before we start to wonder What happened to Nina? Nina and her boyfriend Simon head to his parents second house in Stowe to spend time together but Simon comes back home without her. Simon says he left her alive but did he? From the first small glimpse of their relationship Simon gave me the ick. This story was well written and keeps you turning the pages to find out what did really happen to Nina and who is going to pay for it. The answers may surprise you. 4.5 stars but rounded down as always. Highly recommend to anyone who likes a thriller. Thank you to netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest review.

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I’ve enjoyed McTiernan’s police procedurals but her standalones, not so much. What was interesting about this one was the inspiration from the Gabby Petito story. Telling the story primarily from the perspective of both sets of parents was an interesting spin. The way that social media has the ability to both help and hinder crime solving and to also skew the public’s perception of the individuals involved is disturbing. How do you find the truth with so much misinformation and vitriole circulating so quickly and poisoning people’s minds away from objectivity?

So it was interesting for those reasons but I also found it pretty implausible, and I don’t have a lot of patience for unbelievable plot twists. Some of the parents’ behavior was understandable but the amount of terrible choices for which they were able to avoid accountability was mindboggling. I also get frustrated when the detective in the case is viewed as, and somewhat presented as, less competent than the vigilantes (in this case, the parents). Finally, I just didn’t love the writing style. I think I prefer more literary thrillers most of the time so the surfacey writing just didn’t hit me right.

I can see there being a lot of people who will love this but it was just average for me.

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Thanks to NetGalley, William Morrow, and Dervla McTiernan for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Nina and her boyfriend, Simon, head out for a weekend of hiking, aiming to rekindle their relationship amid nature. But when only Simon returns, the question everyone's asking is: What happened to Nina? This riveting, ripped from the headlines novel plunges us right into the middle of the story, but I want to be clear - this is not a mystery. From the very beginning, we're pretty much aware of what has happened, who has done it, and why. The real story here is watching the events unfold against a backdrop of family loyalty, media frenzy, and a gripping investigation. The story, told through the eyes of Nina's mother, Nina's stepfather, Simon's mother, Simon's father, and the detective on the case, is a harrowing tale of the way that violence can impact us all.

This book is a deep dive into the complexities of human relationships. Through the turmoil of the search for Nina, we see two families pitted against each other—Nina's, desperate for answers, and Simon's, protective and wary of the mounting allegations against their son. What sets this book apart is its ability to mirror the real-world spectacle that often surrounds such tragic events, but also comment effectively in a way that leaves it feeling singular. The armchair detectives, the viral hashtags, the spiraling conspiracies - it's all too familiar.

If you're a fan of dark and complex stories that make you examine the darker facets of human nature, this book is an absolute must-read. By the end, my heart was going to burst for Nina - and, let's be honest here, Gabby Petito. 5 stars.

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From the opening chapter to the very last page, I could not put this book down. College students Nina and Simon go to his parents’ vacation home in Stowe, Vermont for a quick getaway, but only Simon comes home. Reminiscent of Gabby Petito’s case, this story follows Nina’s and Simon’s families as they grapple with the consequences of what happened at the remote cabin. I don’t want to say too much about the plot except it unfolds in unpredictable ways. To what lengths will a parent go to find out what happened to their child? To what lengths will a parent go to protect their child from the consequences of their actions? I recommend this book with content warnings for domestic abuse and control, violence, and attempted assault. Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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What Happened to Nina?
Author: Dervla McTiernan
Source: NetGalley
Pub Date: March 26, 2024

When I received this ARC, I was convinced this was a non-fiction “true crime” novel. I was pretty shocked when I realized that it was fiction written like true crime. I’m a fan of crime fiction, and this story did not disappoint. Nina and Simon have been boyfriend and girlfriend for years, and it was assumed that once they finished college, they would marry. It was all going to plan until Simon became jealous, petty, and angry. He took it out on the beautiful Nina, which drove a giant wedge between their love, eventually resulting in Nina’s demise. The story follows police procedures and rich vs. not-so-rich shenanigans. Simon is the only child of wealthy parents who will do ANYTHING to help their son, including a massive smear campaign against Nina and her parents. I am not exaggerating when I say that I started this book and did not stop till I finished it. What a compelling story and what a fascinating look at murder. I originally heard about this book through the New York Times, and I was pleased to receive an advanced copy. I hope you will read it when published on March 26, 2024. #fiction #crime #murder #abuse #lies #wealth #rumors #mystery #thriller #suspense #internet #internetTrolls #ARC #WhatHappenedToNina @dervlamctiernan @williammorrowbooks @netgalley

I received a complimentary copy of this ARC. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Thank you to the publisher, Netgalley, and the author for the opportunity to read this novel. Pub. Date: March 26, 2024.

#book #books #bookAddict #BooksOfInstagram #bookstagram #bookstagramer #bookshelf #reader #booklove #bookreader reader #reviewer

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This was a five-star riveting read. Nina and Simon seem to everyone the perfect couple but there are hidden secrets, and the story takes off when Nina does not come home from a trip that the pair took together. There are three story lines to follow. One, where and what has happened to Nina? Two, you follow Nina's family as they struggle with the unknown and using all resources to find Nina. Third, Simons family who has the money and resources to draw on when they start to realize that Simon could be a suspect and they will use anything to protect their son. This story keeps you locked in to see what happens next and how far a family will go to protect one of their own. The author does a great job weaving on three-story lines together. You will not be disappointed in this story.

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What Happened to Nina is a story that grabbed me from the beginning and wouldn't let me go until I read the haunting last paragraph. To say I loved it and highly recommend the book is an understatement!

American readers will see shades of inspiration from the tragic case a couple of years ago of Gaby Petito and Brian Laundrie, two young lovers who took to the road, but only Brian returned. There is a similar scenario at the opening of this story, but then the tales diverge. We take a deep dive into the two families, and two sets of parents who will do whatever it takes to protect their child. All the characters are so distinctly drawn and the reader feels like they are literally in their skin.

A lot of the story is predictable because we, the reader, knows what has happened, but this in no way lessened my enjoyment of the story. I was on edge, waiting to see what would happen next and what Nina's parents would discover. There are a few very unexpected plot turns near the end of the book. This story seemed very different from some of the ones I've read in McTiernan's past catalogue of books, but it was a winning formula for me. This is one of my favorite books of 2024 so far!

Thank you to NetGalley, Dervla McTiernan and William Morrow Books for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you William Morrow, #partner, for the advanced copy of What Happened to Nina? in exchange for my honest review.

This is the second book I’ve read by Dervla McTiernan and I cannot recommend her books enough! I was thrilled that Cindy from Thoughts from a Page picked this one as an early read for her Patreon group because that meant we got to chat with the author and I loved hearing Dervla give us some insight into this book.

Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down! I loved how the author took a missing case, one that is literally ripped from the headlines, and turns it upside down. Yes, this one is quite similar to the Gabby Petito case, but believe me when I say this is not the same story.

While this is a missing person story, what makes it so unique is that once it is established that Nina is truly missing, the narrative shifts focus to those left in the aftermath of the event and how they are struggling to find answers. We see Nina’s parents willing to do anything to find their daughter and then you have Simon’s parents who are willing to do anything to protect their son at all costs. We see the lengths these parents are willing to go for their child and the feelings of helplessness they feel as they wait to see what happens next.

I also appreciated how the author explored how social media can be used to manipulate the case and public opinion. I never really thought about how this happens in everyday life, but to see it happening in this book was maddening!

I cannot recommend this book enough! It’s so cleverly plotted and her characters come alive on the page. Heck, she even had me feeling just a little sympathy for a character I really wanted to dislike! That’s talent!!!

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I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A heart wrenching novel told from the aftermath, rather than the crime itself. There were multiple points of view throughout making it interesting and allowing the reader to see what extraordinary lengths parents will go to for their children.
This story shows how the impact of social media can damage and ultimately destroy the lives of innocent people.
The ending was somehow fitting yet still so incredibly sad.

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A gripping mystery from the first page! Nina and Simon have been dating for four years, but all is not as it seems. They go on a trip where Simon hopes to restore the relationship, but things do not go according to plan. Nina decides to listen end the relationship, but then there is an accident... There are secrets from both families. There is deception from both families. But can money really buy freedom no matter how heinous the crime? Or will justice be served?

I could not put this down and finished in a day! Highly recommend. And my thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for the advanced ecopy of this book.

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This story of young love that ends in tragedy was a page turner pulled from the headlines. Relatable and thought-provoking, what would you do to protect you child? The suspense builds and emotions are played. This is the first book I've read by this author and I look forward to reading more. The characters are so well drawn the situation so believable. Mystery writing at its best!

copy provided by the publisher and netgalley

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Simon and Nina are high school sweethearts who continue dating into college. They go away together for a school break to Simon’s family’s vacation home. Simon returns home, but Nina is missing.

This novel is a mystery/thriller told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Simon’s parents, Nina’s parents, the police detective and Nina’s sister. We learn the parental struggles of searching for the truth.

This book was a captivating, shocking and devastating. I loved how it was told from the different voices of the characters. There are trigger warnings, but I highly recommend for those who enjoy thrillers with a plot twist.

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollinsPublishers for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own

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This was..,fine. It kept me interested enough to finish it but the pace was slower than I anticipated and this wasn’t a thriller that I couldn’t put down.

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What Happened to Nina? is another great novel to add to my list titled: “Books That Scream, ‘F*ck the Patriarchy’”. This list is, of course, not only filled with books that make me so mad at the patriarchy while reading it makes me want to scream (not that I don’t live every day like this), but also filled with books where whatever/whomever is standing in for the symbol of the patriarchy in the book gets some just desserts.

(Can I just note, very briefly, that I absolutely hate the cover for this book? I can’t stand it. I’m sorry.)

What Happened to Nina? is a slightly misleading title, because we find out, rather nebulously, what happened to Nina in the prologue of the book. This book isn’t about Nina: It’s about the aftermath of her disappearance. It’s about her working-class family, the boyfriend that came home from their week-long vacation when she didn’t, about his rich and influential family, about privilege, about the members of law enforcement working the case, about domestic abuse in college-aged couples, about friends keeping secrets and enemies spreading lies, and it’s a lot about how far parents will go for their kids (and maybe some thoughts of how far should you go?).

Dervla McTiernan writes an impeccably-plotted, well-paced, multiple-POV tale that threads a riot of emotions through a small town and two families divided by money, intellect, grit, love, and humanity. It doesn’t end pretty, but I like a lot of stories better that way because in real life a lot of stories like this don’t have pretty endings. Sometimes they don’t have endings at all.

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you.

File Under: 5 Star Review/Crime Fiction/Psychological Fiction/Suspense Thriller

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Highschool sweethearts, Simon and Nina take a getaway to Simon's parent's cabin to get some much needed alone time. When they're expected to return, Simon does, but Nina doesn't. This is obviously a cause for concern for those close to Nina.

This is your typical run-of-the mill missing person's story. The police were called in to investigate, and the family was devastated, clinging to hope that their loved one would be found safe and sound. The community rallied together, organizing search parties and spreading the word on social media in a desperate attempt to bring the person home. The same old story. 

The storyline lacked originality, and halfway through the book, we find out what happened, but the story kept trotting on. The pacing was a bit slow at times, which made it hard to stay fully engaged with the story.  Overall, while the book had some promising elements, it ultimately fell short of leaving a lasting impression. 

I liked the book, but I didn't love it. There isn't much to make this book stand out from other books with a missing person narrative. While it was a decent read, it didn't leave me feeling particularly enthusiastic or eager to recommend it to others. 

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

The expected publication date is March 26th, 2024.

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Nina and Simon dated in high school and stayed together when he went away to college. After a weekend away together, Simon returns home without Nina, saying that she broke up with him, so he left her alone at his parents' cabin. But Nina's family knows that she would never disappear and suspects that there is more to Simon's story that he is telling them.

This mystery is part missing person's search, part family drama, and part police procedural. It feels very ripped from the headlines (in a good way) and even though it's revealed what happened to Nina slowly, it felt very fast paced and readable. I also loved the ending. If you like true crime-based mysteries, this one is for you.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance copy for review.

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What Happened to Nina was an incredibly gripping novel! From the first few pages, I was hooked into the mystery, the titular "What happened to Nina?" The book starts off with Nina's perspective as the prologue, before jumping between her parents' perspectives, her sister's, the parents of her boyfriend, and one of the detectives on the case. All perspectives were unique and necessary to get a full picture of the story, although I will say that Andy's (her father) could've used a bit more work. He has a regional dialect accent, and because he's the only one to have it, it would constantly throw me off to see things like "we wasn't" and I had to keep reminding myself that it was a purposeful grammatical error. It's a natural fault of the first person perspective, but because he was the only character that had that, it stood out, in a not so positive way.

That small negative quirk aside, I have nothing but positive feelings about this book. As a mother myself, the agony of Nina's mother living in the limbo of not knowing what happened to her daughter was soul-crushing and beautifully written. I, too, would presumably float around like a ghost, looking, but not being able to engage in anything. The not-knowing is the worse, as I've heard it described in all related true crime, and it was smartly captured throughout this novel.

Even her boyfriend and his parents were written believably, and with such depth that I felt sympathetic towards them, regardless of the doubt cast upon his story of not being involved in her disappearance. The detective's point of view was valuable in giving direct, concrete information to the reader, without the bias that the other characters involved would've had.

Thrillers can often be hit or miss by relying too much on plot twists, or insane behaviors of the characters involved, but this one really hit a sweet spot of having characters make sensible (or at least understandable) decisions, keeping the suspense going throughout the entire novel from the start to finish, and being unpredictable. Speaking of which, the ending was a banger through and through. I finished the book and had to take a deep breath just to recover from reading those last few lines.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in mysteries, thrillers, crime fiction, or all around suspenseful novels with well-written characters.

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Many thanks to Net Galley for the advance reading copy of this fascinating eBook. This review may contain spoilers.

I think I would recommend this both to people who regularly read mystery-thrillers and people interested in reading more of them. I think the strongest element of this book is the depth of the characters and the unique storytelling balanced with a story that is, unfortunately, as old as the concept of true crime itself. The weakest is the opening, which didn’t line up with the quality of the rest of the book. I wish that the first 25% of the book were more cleanly edited and succinct in the way the end of the book is—this is one of the few times where the end has seemed more polished than the beginning of a book, at least to me. I think I would recommend this both to people who regularly read mystery-thrillers and people interested in reading more of them.

The narrative was very well-layered and put together with a lot of intention; you can tell the author knew the details of the story they were telling and wasn’t just making things up on the fly. Conflict was well-established and built up effectively, and pacing was consistently quick, but not really overrushed. I was surprised at certain story beats happening so quickly in the narrative, but the question of who did it and how isn’t the real driving force here: the actual question at the core of the narrative is which family will come out on top in the battle for their children. Characterization was incredibly potent and consistent, with each character feeling very distinct and easy to differentiate from. A lot of the cast wasn’t necessarily likeable, but they were memorable and compelling enough to make up for that. There wasn’t a whole lot of visual or sensory description, which made instances where it was utilized all the more impactful, especially in the scenes where Nina, and eventually Nina’s corpse, gets described.

The writing style was consistent, narratively appropriate, and very strong. For the most part, I don’t think over-/under-writing are an issue in this book, save for in the prologue, which may be rectified in the final copy; for example, the lobster-pot metaphor speaks for itself; the further explanation of what it means was unnecessary. Syntax was coherent, building relatively straightforward, linear sentences. While spelling and grammar were for the most part adequate, there were some things that brought me out of it, like putting a space in chainsaw (“chain saw”). Phrasing was clear and consistent, if not occasionally a little repetitive—lots of sentences starting with “Also,”—but, ultimately, it evens out by the end of the book. Dialogue was occasionally kind of sloppy, but not too detrimental overall.

Shifts in point of view are made clear chapter to chapter, and very well-done. I was genuinely impressed at how well the author was able to juggle so many different character points of view, especially while maintaining a solid sense of voice for each character. The fact that the two characters we don’t really get perspective from are Nina and Simon (save for the prologue, which, frankly, I think people could skip or save until the end to get a better reading experience) was interesting and a cool way to play with a different perspective on this kind of story. I thought the use of first person for the family members, but third person for the police officer’s chapters, was very clever; as a result, the point of view and depth of perspective all felt very natural and appropriate.

One thing that did give me pause was the very random insertion of a man harrassing the Frasers having Borderline Personality Disorder; it felt irrelevant and stigmatizing, especially since the character had little screentime or influence on the plot. The specification of diagnosis was unnecessary. Similarly, I could’ve done without the use of “slow” as a pejorative, which I’ve discussed the ableist origins of in other reviews before and won’t rehash here, which occurred a couple of times, but otherwise the language used wasn’t inappropriate or offensive.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I like Dervla McTiernan novels and this one is by far my favorite! It is a well written tale of a family trying to figure out what happened to their daughter, Nina, who has disappeared. One weekend Nina and Simon go off rock climbing but only Simon comes home. Where is Nina? What happened to her? Simon's family is wealthy and begins a campaign to ensure that Simon survives the accusations and media circus while Nina's parents are busy trying to get help from the community and Simon's family in locating Nina.

I was amazed that the 5 or 6 different narrators did not take away from the story but really helped build up the plot. The gut wrenching anguish of the parents of both Nina and Simon was palpable. This is a very well written story and I loved the ending!

Highly recommend!

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Dervla McTiernan is an auto-read for me and "What Happened to Nina?" has continued that reputation.

Different from most thrillers, I never thought I'd be so engrossed in a book where I knew from the beginning a character wasn't coming home. McTiernan's work, highlighting the plight of existing in the court of public opinion, has the reader asking themselves, How far would you go to protect your child?

Nina and Simon, struggling through a long-distance relationship at different colleges, decide to vacation to Simon's family's vacation home to reconnect, but when Nina never comes home her family and friends are asking #WhatHappenedToNina. Simon, and his affluent parents are immediately on the defensive (and offensive) refusing to let this situation ruin the life of their adult son.

I stayed up much too late NEEDING to know how this one was going to end. When the lives of two families are forever altered, will anyone be held accountable for their actions?

Thank you William Morrow and NetGalley for the oppurtunity to read this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.

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