Book Review: The Collective by Alison Gaylin

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.


I haven’t really explored the revenge thriller genre before (at least not that I am aware of) but the premise of The Collective drew me in. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right? And God forbid if you do anything to her child.

My experience with The Collective was a little lukewarm, if I’m to be honest. The main reason for this was that I found it to be a bit of a slow burn. Yes, things happened throughout the entire book but it wasn’t until the final quarter it was pumped up. I would have like a little more action, and I also thought the story could have been darker.

However, I did feel the author did a great job of delving into Camille’s mind. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to lose a child, there was some insight with Camille. I was really able to see how a piece of Camille was now well and truly missing, how important it was for her to hang onto any remaining morsel of Emily, and how harrowing it must be for justice not to be served. Would I turn away from an opportunity from The Collective? I can’t honestly say that I would.

Sounds like something up your street? Pick up a copy of the book here.

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