Category Archives: The Collective

Review: The Collective by Alison Gaylin

Title: The Collective by Alison Gaylin
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The USA Today bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of Never Look Back and If I Die Tonight plumbs the dark side of justice and the depths of diabolical revenge in this propulsive novel of psychological suspense that melds the driving narrative of Then She Was Gone with the breathtaking twists of The Chain and the violent fury of Kill Bill

“Alison Gaylin’s The Collective is an astonishing feat. In the tradition of Ira Levin’s unforgettable social thrillers (Rosemary’s Baby, Stepford Wives), it’s a nerve-shredding, emotionally harrowing ride that also speaks volumes about our current moment, the dangers of our digital world, the potency of female rage. Don’t miss it.” —Megan Abbott

Just how far will a grieving mother go to right a tragic wrong?

Camille Gardener is a grieving—and angry—mother who, five years after her daughter’s death, is still obsessed with the privileged young man she believes to be responsible.

When her rash actions draw the attention of a secret group of women—the collective— Camille is drawn into a dark web where these mothers share their wildly different stories of loss as well as their desire for justice in a world where privilege denies accountability. Fueled by mutual rage, the collective members devise and act out retribution fantasies via precise, anonymous, highly coordinated revenge killings.

As Camille struggles to comprehend whether this is a role-playing exercise or terrifying reality, she must decide if these women are truly avenging angels or monsters. Becoming more deeply enmeshed in the group, Camille learns truths about the collective—and about herself—that she may not be able to survive


The Collective by Alison Gaylin is a pulse-pounding thriller that moves at a blistering pace.

Five years ago, Camille and Matt Gardener’s fifteen-year-old daughter Emily was sexually assaulted and left in the woods during a bitter cold snap.  Her last words described what happened to her and the perpetrator’s name. Camille’s hopes for justice for Emily are shattered by a not guilty verdict and she remains mired in her grief and anger. She and Matt are divorced and while he has moved away and started over, Camille still lives in the family home.

When she discovers her daughter’s assailant, now a senior at nearby Brayburn College, is receiving an exclusive award, Camille makes a scene at the ceremony that goes viral. Afterward, she receives an invitation to join a Facebook group for moms whose dead children were denied justice. Soon after, she is invited to a site on the dark web where mothers can express their darkest feelings for those responsible for killing their children have escaped any consequences. Camille is soon addicted to this chat group that she originally believes is just a safe place to express anger and grief. Even when she is asked to participate in seemingly harmless tasks, Camille continues to believe no one would act on anything posted to the chat. In fact, she finds these excursions  calming and give her something to focus on instead of her pain. But she soon learns that getting into this chat group is much, much easier than leaving it…

Camille’s world is shattered with Emily’s death and while Matt discovers a way to move forward, she does not. She relives her memories of her daughter and finds some things too painful to do because of their association with Emily. In the years since Emily’s death, neither her anger nor her grief have lessened. The visible proof that her daughter’s attacker has moved on with his life is a painful reminder that her teenage daughter will never achieve these normal milestones. Joining the dark web chat room provides her an outlet for her simmering hatred but Camille realizes too late that she has possibly made a horrible decision that is impossible to undo.

The Collective is an edge of the seat thriller that is quite suspenseful. Camille’s pain, grief and fury are palpable as she revels in expressing her dark fantasies. The storyline is unique and the first person narrative is extremely effective in drawing readers into Camille’s quest for revenge. With jaw dropping twists and cunning turns, Alison Gaylin brings this riveting thriller to a poignant conclusion.

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Filed under Alison Gaylin, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Collective, Thriller, William Morrow