ARC REVIEW: Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy

Title: Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy
Pages: 368
Published by: Raven Books
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK – Waterstones


Josie Morrow is Girl One, the first of nine Miracle Babies conceived without male DNA on an experimental commune known as the Homestead.

The Girls were raised at the Homestead in the shadow of controversy – plagued by zealots calling them aberrations – until a suspicious fire claimed the lives of three people, leaving the survivors to scatter across the United States.

Years later, upon learning that her mother has gone missing, Josie sets off on a desperate road trip, tracking down the only people who might help: her estranged sisters. Tracing clues her mother left behind, they journey back through their past, uncovering secrets about their origins and unlocking devastating abilities they never knew they had. But someone out there is determined to stop Josie finding her mother and reaching the truth about what really happened at that ranch.

My review:

A massive thank you to Bloomsbury Books for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Girl One is an incredibly unique and thought-provoking story that offers a glimpse into what the world would be like if women could conceive without male DNA. I like how the author didn’t paint a rosy picture and actually showed a dark side to this scientific breakthrough as a lot of people feared the ramifications. We also learn a lot about the nine ‘miracle babies’ and what their life has been like since they fled the Homestead.

The story follows Josie Morrow, who is known as “Girl One”, the first of nine ‘miracle babies’ conceived at the Homestead, as part of an experiment run by Dr. Joseph Bellanger. She learns that her mother has gone missing and sets off on a road trip with Thomas Abbott, a local journalist who wants to write a book about the Homestead, to track down her mother. Josie uncovers a lot of dark truths about the Homestead and it forces her to confront her feelings about Bellanger and whether he was the man she thought he was. There’s so much more to this story, however, I’m not going to reveal anything else because it will definitely spoil what happens.

Josie is the perfect protagonist for a story like this. Since she is the first ‘miracle baby’, she has strong memories of Bellanger and considers him to be her father as she spent the first six years of her life with him. She remembers helping him in his lab and being just as fascinated by science as he was. She is keen to keep Bellanger’s research alive and continue his legacy. She thought she knew what the Homestead was really like and her whole life has been built on the foundations of Bellanger’s research. She strongly believes that Bellanger was a good man and that he helped her mother by giving them the Homestead. However, this is all turned upside down as the more she delves into her past and her mother’s life, the more she uncovers about Bellanger and what life at the Homestead was really like.

I struggled to get into this story at first because there’s a lot to take in and rather than telling you everything at the start, the author drip feeds you information throughout as Josie visits each of her sisters. I did appreciate each new character that was introduced as it kept the story moving along and there was never a dull moment as a result. I also enjoyed each new revelation as Josie slowly uncovered the truth about the Homestead. Josie’s whole world is turned upside down and I really admired her determination to get through it and find her mother. The second half of the story was definitely better than the first and I found myself racing through it as the tension ratchets up. It felt like we were building up to an explosive ending and there was definitely some very shocking twists towards the end.

One aspect of the story I found disappointing is the lack of exploration of Thomas Abbott. Josie uncovers a shocking revelation about him and I was keen to see how this would fit into the overall story. However, the author chooses not to explore this further and his character is simply put to one side. I was really disappointed by this as I thought it was a great twist and I feel he could have played a bigger role in the story as a result. I did like his character and even though he was going on this journey for his own reasons, he did help Josie and a few other characters and he was very different to what I was expecting when we were first introduced to him.

Girl One is the perfect blend of thriller and science fiction. If you’re looking for a book that will take you on an extraordinary journey, then I highly recommend this one.

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