Book Club: The Right Girl

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Author: Ellie O’Neill
ISBN: 978-19-2545-680-6
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Right Girl is Ellie O’Neill’s third novel and I really enjoyed both Reluctantly Charmed and The Enchanted Island so I jumped at the chance to read it. I didn’t even read the blurb before starting so I had no idea what I was in for.

There has been a quirkiness to Ellie’s work, her previous novels focused on the magic of Ireland and so I think I was expecting something a little more along those lines. The Right Girl is something very different and disturbingly topical, set five years in the future.

Freya is finding success in all aspects of her life; her florist business is booming, she’s just been approved for a loan and she just got engaged. Everything is falling to place and life couldn’t be more perfect… or could it?

It took me a while to get really hooked into this story and I think that’s simply because I found it so disturbing.

A lot of anxiety is caused by having to make decisions, and when you think about it the number of decisions people have to make in a day is staggering. Many of them don’t really feel like decisions, they are such an ingrained part of the day. How much simpler could life be if we had all of that indecision removed…. This is one of the major themes O’Neill explores in The Right Girl.

Currently we live in a society that is very attached to it’s devices, and there is pretty much an app for everything. So what about an app to help with all those pesky decisions you have to make on a daily basis. It is scary to think how much of our lives we entrust to electronic devices, and how much we rely on them now so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to envision a day, not far in the future, where we upload all of our digital history into an app and then let it make our decisions for us. It’s really late and I’m really tired but I really want to say that it was almost a cross between the magic 8 ball and something out of a terminator franchise movie.

Freya has it all and according to the BBest app she is a 93% match with her new fiancé Marcus, except that the two don’t seem to have a lot in common. Their very first date was awkward and they probably wouldn’t have persevered but BBest says they’re a 93% match so maybe they just need a little time to grow on one another, so they persevered through a few more dates and a few more until they end up engaged. Freya wants to question it but is ingrained to think that BBest always knows best.

The Right Girl is a journey into a disturbing future where all decisions are put to the BBest app and you are offered three options, with one flagged as the BBest recommendation and you are ranked on how often you choose the recommended option. There are consequences for not choosing the preferred option, and they aren’t often pretty. O’Neill’s new future shows a disturbing lack of free will and the worst part is it’s something everyone willingly handed over. It started small, with seemingly innocuous decisions but then the app diversified until it became a part of all decisions and controlled more and more aspects of people’s lives and they didn’t realise how much control they were handing over until it was too late.

Freya has handed over so much of her decision making and is thrilled with the way her life is panning out that she doesn’t question what is going on, until she meets someone who affects her.

The Right Girl has elements of romance but it is more of a warning I think, a reminder that there are consequences for blindly handing over little elements of control. O’Neill also explores what happens when people start to wake up to their lack of control.

The characters were well drawn and quite enjoyable to get to know. The story unfolded with steady pacing and kept me wanting to know what was coming next. Most of society may be happily handing over control of their lives but there will always be those who can see the bigger picture, those who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

The Right Girl is an insightful read with disturbing elements that I would recommend unreservedly. It is a book that will appeal to a range of readers and certainly made me think about the role of social media in my life.

The Right Girl is book #7 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Ellie O’Neill can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Right Girl is published by Simon & Schuster and is available through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster a selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Right Girl so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.


10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Right Girl

  1. I hadn’t read any of Ellie’s books, I really enjoyed this one. I couldn’t put it down, just had to keep reading until the end. I will definitely be checking out her other books.

  2. I absolutely loved ‘The Right Girl’! Ellie O’Neill wrote a story that I wasn’t expecting at all, but that made me think hard about social media. I can see how easy it would be to let computers take over like this. I enjoyed the characters and the ending was expected, but wasn’t cheesy at all. It was a difficult book to put down and I was able to read it quickly, but the effects of it have lasted much longer! Thank you Beauty and Lace for another great book to review >:o)

  3. What a great read – a fantastic story with a warning under the surface. The message from this book will stay with you long after you have put it down.

    The story really made me think about my/our potentially unhealthy obsession with social media and our smart devices. Particularly what we might be giving up for ‘convenience’ and how our behaviour and decisions can be influenced by the apps on our smart device. Are apps helping or manipulating you?

    Freya’s world at first glance seems ideal – engaged to a great guy and a thriving business all thanks to an app. The BBest app knows all about you and helps you make the best choice and reduce the risk of making a wrong decision but what happens when it’s recommendation just doesn’t feel right….

  4. “The Right Girl” presents initially as a fluffy piece of chick lit, but it quickly becomes evident that there’s more than a dash of science fiction and some thoughtful social commentary in here too. The chick lit housing makes it a very easy read, but there’s a lot to think about here.

    Freya is using BBest, a lifestyle app which helps her to make the best possible choices for herself. Doing what BBest tells her means never making a mistake again. A single, broke, directionless mess just two years ago, Freya now has the perfect man, a healthy bank balance, and a thriving business. It’s perfect.

    Except it doesn’t always FEEL perfect. Freya is having a few tiny doubts about her upcoming wedding. BBest is never wrong, but Freya can’t quite squash those niggles. And then in rapid succession she meets an unexpectedly attractive man in her grandfather’s bookshop, her grandfather is arrested, and she discovers a world she’d been blithely unaware of.

    I really enjoyed this novel. It’s a fun read, with a lively pace and an engaging heroine. O’Neill has some serious points to make, but she does it with verve and without preaching. It’s hard not to like Freya, though she may make you roll your eyes sometimes. Other characters are vividly drawn and realistic, and there’s a nice vein of humor that runs through the novel.

    The plotting is credible; in particular, the situation that Freya eventually has to resolve around BBest is well drawn and believable. It’s not that hard to picture such a thing really happening. (Obviously, I’m trying to avoid spoilers here!)

    I strongly recommend this novel – it’s an easy and enjoyable read, with some real substance.

  5. The Right Girl by Ellie O’Neill

    Freya is an upcoming business woman running her florist Blooming Brilliant. She starts each day by consulting her phone’s BBest app which tells her what to eat, what to wear, who to see and where to go. This makes life so much easier, and faster to make a choice about anything.
    Even her boyfriend Mason is a 93% perfect match with her. How good is that?!

    But if life is so perfect, why does Freya feel like things sometimes don’t seem right, that they don’t fit who she is? The BBest app is widely lauded as the best idea ever, people are constantly checking their phones to be advised of where to dine, who to visit, what to read……

    As she begins to question her unease, Freya finds herself wondering when she last made a choice of her own, one not recommended by BBest.

    Suddenly Grandad is arrested, and Freya must seek answers to uncover what is happening in her perfect world.

    This book had me reassessing how often we use our phones. I found the whole storyline really engaging and it kept me turning the pages trying to figure out where the plot would go. A very interesting read.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster for the chance to read and review this thought provoking book. It is very different to Ellie O’Neills last book The Enchanted Island, which I also enjoyed.

  6. Ellie O’Neill’s ‘The right Girl’ …What an amazingly different concept for a Book.
    So many times in life I think wouldnt it be great just to not have to worry about things like whats for dinner? or what should I wear?, etc …But in reality would it? Reading The Right Girl really made me think. The book follows Freya as she embarks on a new relationship and her floristry which is going from strength to strength unlike her relationship. She is engaged to Mason because the BBest App that she has happily signed up to and allows to run her life…it has clearly informed her that she and Mason are perfect for each other so even though she has her doubts she keeps telling herself that she just needs to change her attitude and work at this as the BBest App is never wrong. Imagine if you never had to worry about making a choice over anything. No worries about who to marry, what job path to follow, what to eat, wear, how to do your hair, where to holiday, what car to drive…..every decision in your life was not one for you to make…..the App told you what to do. So there Freya was engaged to be married to Mason and then along comes Patrick just to make her question everything.

    I found this book to be very thought provoking and I have actually had several conversations with people about the books concept over the past week. If you are looking for a book thats a very different concept then this is the one for you.
    Brilliant…..I really loved it.

  7. Having read Ellie O’Neill’s other books Reluctantly Charmed and The Enchanted Island and loving them I couldn’t wait to read the latest by her.

    The other two were set in Ireland was this also going to have an Irish connection to it. Not telling.

    Freya has the best things happening in her life at the moment, she has her own business, great friends and the most amazing boyfriend named Mason. Life is all going along smoothly and everything looks like it’s all going to plan. Well BBest’s plan is to have everything under control. A lifestyle app that has it all worked out for her.
    So why does it all feel not quite right. If Mason and Freya are so highly matched then why does it not feel so good.

    Freya’s grandfather own a bookshop and she spends time with him when she can. They share a love of books and she is devastated when he is arrested.
    Why was he arrested? This takes us on a new journey learning about Grandpa and what thoughts he has. Just who is that man in his shop with those eyes.

    Freya learns a whole new world and the questions she asked finally have some answers but are they the right ones.

    A simple lifestyle app has made for a wonderful story and a fantastic talking point.
    This is a touch futuristic and a touch of reality to this story.
    Do we really let those apps control that much of our life?
    Do we let our phones control our lives?
    This novel will have you thinking and asking friends questions the whole way through.
    It is a wonderful thought provoking book that will have you thinking long after you’ve turned the last page.

    Thank you Simon and Schuster, Beauty and Lace, Michelle for giving us this book to read.

    Thanks must go to Ellie O’Neill for giving us a book to make us really think about life and those phones.

  8. This is the first novel I have read by Ellie O’Neill, & quite enjoyed it.

    I thought it was a little predictable at times but then there were parts in there that I was not expecting, such as Freya’s dad’s involvement with BBest. It makes you question how easily people are willing to let an app make their life decisions & everyday choices for them.

    Certainly makes you think about the way the technology controls our lives in simple everyday tasks such as making decisions. Consequences if the BBest app is not followed. Freya’s has to learn how to take back control of her life & listen to her heart.

  9. I received a copy of ‘The Right Girl’ by Ellie O’Neill from Simon & Schuster to review as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club.

    This is the first novel of Ms O’Neill’s that I’ve read and I must say that I was very surprised by it.

    It starts off as stereotypical “Chick lit” – all light and frothy but it soon twists and turns and morphs into something else. The author is able to delve into some controversial topics such as our increasing loss of privacy to the government and corporations and their lack of transparency, as well as our increasing lack of ability to think for ourselves and becoming more and more reliant on technology. However, what is truly remarkable, is that Ellie is able to do so without being ‘preachy’ and still have the novel come off as a lot of fun with plenty of laugh out loud moments.

    Trying to peg it into one specific genre is next to impossible as it fits into chick lit, romance, even a bit of thriller and cozy mysteries. I would highly recommend this book for anyone to read and I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

    Thanks Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon & Schuster for introducing me to another fabulous author.

  10. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Ellie O’Neill third book – The Right Girl.

    Having read and thoroughly enjoyed both of O’Neill’s previous books I was really looking forward to reading this one and was therefore surprised when I initially found myself irritated by the seemingly vacuous nature of the characters and story line.

    And then it changed. And instead I found I was reading a brilliantly, disturbingly well written expose of a world where the voluntary data we provide through reward programs, social media, apps and the like had insidiously been used to control the way we operate.

    This is the story of Freya, addicted to the lifestyle phone app BBest. Before the app expanded to include career forecasting she was a hopeless waitress, but was already using the app on a daily basis to eliminate all those choices we make on a daily basis “should I take the train to work, or ride my bike”, “which pair of jeans should I buy”, “which brand of crackers are best for me” etc. Since BBest suggested she move to floristry. Freya had never been happier, suddenly her skills were appreciated, banks were falling over themselves to lend her money, she’d met Mason with whom she had a 93% match level and was now engaged, so why did it not quite feel right? If she and Mason were such a perfect match, where was the spark?

    And then her beloved Grandfather, who runs a bookshop and refuses any interaction with technology, is arrested, and Freya doesn’t understand why. As she delves deeper the world as she knows it begins to develop cracks and Freya must make choices which will determine her destiny without the help of BBest.

    This is a thought provoking book which will make you question our increasing reliance on apps and the like, and the information we willingly share, both knowingly and unknowingly, with Government Departments, big corporations, Facebook, Google etc. I would highly recommend this book to everyone who loves their technology, and anyone who has concerns that Big Brother is watching us!

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