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. Drawn into a secret group of women nursing similar pain—The Collective—Camille must decide if these women are truly avenging angels or monsters.
Gaylin imbues The Collective with solid suspense that grows from myriad twists, each of which is a surprise. Gaylin explores Camille’s emotional state with finesse, never making her a caricature but a believable person. Her friendship with the man who received Emily’s heart has become her sole lifeline with humanity. No matter what Camille does, Gaylin keeps the reader firmly on her side. The Collective careens to a perfectly noir—and totally believable—finale, showcasing Gaylin’s storytelling skills.
Gaylin’s prose, so achingly pure yet electric in its gathering rage, pulls readers so far into the abyss in which these women live that it feels entirely plausible ... readers may be prompted to ask: Are evil acts always reflective of evil hearts, their perpetrators forever beyond redemption? Is there any way to atone for one’s mistakes, no matter how grave? Full of twists, The Collective also raises fascinating questions about the echo chamber of social media and the righteousness of rage—maternal or otherwise. Even after reading its shattering conclusion, you might be drawn back to the beginning of this blistering novel in search of every last breadcrumb Gaylin has dropped[.]