See, some books are just so silly that I have no problem giving them a big ol' raspberry. Darcey Bell's A Simple Favor is one of those books. I picked it up because I had seen a preview for the movie with Anna Kendrick, whom I find oddly charming, and Blake Lively, whom I find oddly offputting, and figured what the heck?
What the heck indeed. This book is mostly just Not Good. I'm not 100% sure why I read through to the end, except possibly that A) I hoped there would be a really twisty twist that set all that came before on its ear (spoiler: newp), and B) I was baffled by the idea of Anna Kendrick playing Stephanie.
I knew from the movie trailer that Stephanie (Kendrick) was the boring one whose best friend, Emily (Lively) is all amazing and glamorous but turns out to have Secrets. That's about all I knew.
But it turns out that Stephanie is not just the square one (which Anna Kendrick can do quite nicely, thanks), she's the frumpy one. She runs a mom blog in which she frequently talks in broad, saccharine generalities about moms. Like, "Moms have amazing mom powers, and their mom strength holds them together through a crisis. The amazing community of moms etc. etc." She's very uptight, sure, but also pretty dim.
Emily, on the other hand, is a glamorous PR manager for a fashion company in New York City. Stephanie is a widow, but Emily is married to a gorgeous husband. Their sons are the same age and they're friends.
The simple favor is to watch her son for a few hours after school. The drama starts when Emily doesn't come home. The police get involved, and is there foul play, and where is Emily?
It's the most Gone Girl plot since Gone Girl itself, but it is not anywhere near as clever or shocking or gritty as Gone Girl. As the plot unfolds, it starts to look like literally no one in this book is actually all that smart, and instead of having fun watching an evil genius pull the strings of all the regular people around her, you're watching a sneaky stupid person play childish games with a dopey stupid person.
And, insult to injury, the major plot twist hinges on one of the classic daytime soap opera twists. Think "amnesia!" only even cheesier.
So yeah, I read the whole thing. I'll probably even watch the movie when it's available to stream, because Anna Kendrick is a dear. But whoo nellie, this one was pretty dang cheesy.