Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Opening Hook: Get winter tires.

Main Character: I don’t remember.

Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.


If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!

Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative and I don’t feel bad about it.

Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.

charlotte ritchie hannah GIF by BBC

This was twisted, layered and well-plotted, but some of the events require an extraordinary amount of suspension of disbelief on my behalf, which I was just not always capable. Like, I can buy one character having amnesia – even though I kind of hate amnesia as a plot device – but two of the characters waking up and not being able to remember anything? Come on.

Lily regains consciousness upside down in a wrecked truck, covered in snow in a ditch off the highway. Next to her is a man she doesn’t know. She doesn’t even know her own name or how she ended up in this predicament. She only has some random bible verses floating around in her head. So, here’s my second “ugh” for this book – why all the religious stuff? It didn’t connect to the plot in any way that I can remember. Was this like a Christian thriller? Is that a genre? I’m not sure what it had to do with anything, it was just like “You get a bible verse! You get a bible verse! Everyone gets a bible verse!”

No, thanks. I’m all set. No offence, it’s just not my thing and I don’t really like religious stuff creeping up behind me.

founding american GIF by Kissing Sisters

I’m willing to admit that I found the bible quotes so distracting & odd, that perhaps the purpose of them got lost in the shuffle. I read this months ago, what can I say?

While Lily is crawling out of the car, a woman’s body is discovered in a dumpster behind a bar. The detective assigned to the case, Kylie Milliard, feels like she wants to be the main character, or at least the grounding character, but I found her to be kind of unforgettable in personality and a bit of a dumb-dumb when it came to investigating. A book becomes a bit frustrating for me when the theory a cop should pursue is neon-light-flashing obvious to me as a reader, but the cops take forever to catch up to what I had already figured out.

Mad Wake Up GIF by Big Brother

The owner of the bar is Iver and he’s the second character in the book with a case of the “I can’t remembers.” This conveniently (read: obviously) makes him very suspicious of the dumpster murder. So, you know, colour me picky, but I found it a little silly that the entire plot required multiple people to have memories issues in order to create mystery and suspense. The novel also employed my biggest pet peeve literary device (I think it’s my biggest. I should really keep a list,) and that is when characters refuse to ask any questions about their current situation and clear the air. Instead, they choose to be cagey, evasive and secretive for no discernable reason, other than to protect the plot mystery.

Characters with amnesia, who also don’t ask questions as a reasonable person would, isn’t exactly my definition of a “twisted” and shocking plot. It just ends up becoming frustrating/annoying to me, instead of what I assume the intention is – to build mystery that pulls the reader in.

Soap Opera Drama GIF by Rooster Teeth

But that’s me and I’m notoriously awful. Maybe you’ll absolutely love this. Lots of reviewers did.  

I know this sounds like a mostly negative review, but it’s not. I swear. I didn’t hate reading this. Girard is a good writer who leans to the minimalist side of the spectrum. There were just some key elements of the plot that didn’t work for me, but it’s not a waste of your reading time.

🔪🔪🔪


After surviving a car accident on an icy road in Hagen, North Dakota, Lily Baker regains consciousness with no idea where or who she is. Scattered Bible verses and the image of a man lying in a pool of blood haunt her memory.

The same night of the accident, a young woman is murdered and tossed in a dumpster. Kylie Milliard, Hagen’s only detective, doesn’t immediately recognize the victim, but Kylie soon discovers that Lily and the dead woman share a dark past…if only Lily could remember what it was.

Lily and Kylie both want answers. But Kylie has to play by the book. Lily has to play it safe. And the more Lily learns about her identity, the more she fears the truth.

After surviving a car accident on an icy road in Hagen, North Dakota, Lily Baker regains consciousness with no idea where or who she is. Scattered Bible verses and the image of a man lying in a pool of blood haunt her memory.

The same night of the accident, a young woman is murdered and tossed in a dumpster. Kylie Milliard, Hagen’s only detective, doesn’t immediately recognize the victim, but Kylie soon discovers that Lily and the dead woman share a dark past…if only Lily could remember what it was.

Lily and Kylie both want answers. But Kylie has to play by the book. Lily has to play it safe. And the more Lily learns about her identity, the more she fears the truth.

book source: The author, Danielle Girard in exchange for a review.

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