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All booksThrillerThe Collective
The Collective by Alison Gaylin

The Collective

by Alison Gaylin

Quick take

Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned in this propulsive story of rage, injustice, and the limits of revenge.

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    Fast read

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This book contains mentions of assault and graphic violence.

Why I love it

Chandler Baker
Author, The Husbands

I’m a sucker for a fast-paced thriller with a compelling “what would you do” premise: Would you take stolen money and run? Would you keep your partner’s murderous past a secret? Would you crash a plane or save your family, if forced to choose? I love them because these types of books immediately drop me right into the shoes of the protagonist. What would I do? In The Collective, Alison Gaylin asks a doozy: If someone killed your child, would you want them dead?

Camille Gardener is living a shell of her former life years after the death of her teenage daughter. Consumed by anger toward the privileged boy who evaded all consequences and resentful of the common platitudes she receives from those around her to help her “move on,” Camille at last finds solace in a dark underworld of mothers who have tragically lost children. There, the women not only indulge each other’s anger, but stoke it through collectively devised revenge fantasies. But before long, fantasy turns to action and Camille grapples with whether she’s part of an elaborate role-play or a member of a group plotting vigilante killings.

The Collective is an unflinching look at female rage and the power of women’s bonds. Add to that shocking secrets and harrowing choices and you’ve got a book that demands to be read in one sitting.

It’s not my first book by Gaylin and it certainly won’t be my last!

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

Camille Gardner 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 attract 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 and perpetrators emerge unscathed. Fueled by mutual rage, these women orchestrate their own brand of justice through precise, anonymous, complexly plotted and perfectly executed revenge killings, with individual members completing a specific and integral task in each plan.

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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Collective.

Member thoughts

All (5419)
All (5419)
Love (3256)
Like (1999)
Dislike (164)
5441 ratings
  • 60% Love
  • 37% Like
  • 3% Dislike
  • Atlanta, GA

    When this book got going it didn’t stop. Which is better, an eye for an eye or turn the other cheek? I think this book signals somewhere in between. The narrator’s self absorption led to a nice twist.

  • Canton, MI

    Wow! I felt sorry for Camille.Her grief was overwhelming.But the minute she got involved with the Collective I knew it wouldn’t end well.Fast paced and totally engrossing!I wasn’t prepared for the end

  • Missoula, MT

    A thriller that was thrilling to the very last word. Such an addictive book. The dark plot is original and every detail is well thought out. I am bummed about the ending, but they all can’t be happy.

  • Charleston, SC

    So exciting all the way from beginning to end. I couldn’t put it down. I knew the Collective and what Camille was doing was wrong but I found myself trying to validate her actions for her. So good!!!

  • Chula Vista, CA

    This was a very quick read for me! It was fast paced and I loved that the premise was different than anything I’ve read before. I also liked that it ended appropriately. I would definitely recommend.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    The big twist is in the final pages, but it was an exciting ride to get there. This was a Silent Patient-esque surprise for sure, but also a well-done look at the many, sometimes ugly, faces of grief.

  • Fargo, ND

    This book grabs you & does not let go. I had such mixed feelings about the group operations but phew, it was one wild ride I will not forget anytime soon! One of the best thrillers I have read. Period

  • Ayden, NC

    A thought-provoking revenge domestic thriller that will force you to examine your own moral compass. What happens when you play judge, jury and executioner within a group of mothers seeking justice?

  • Shady Side, MD

    I really enjoyed this book, it got me out of a reading slump I’ve been in recently. The end was kind of all over the place and a little less put together than the rest of the book, but still good.

  • Raleigh, NC

    4.5 stars. I flew through it in a weekend - completely unique and engrossing. It was bleak though, not a “fun” popcorn thriller IMO. Kinda disappointed with the ending but still highly recommend

  • Boerne, TX

    If you're a mother, read this book. It will make you think and question when you aren't busy gasping at the unexpected plot twists and turns. It's the stuff of urban legend in the best possible way.

  • Woodland , WA

    This was so original and unlike any other thriller I have read! I was totally engaged from the beginning! I figured out a couple of the twists but was completely shocked by the ending! Five stars!!!

  • New York , NY

    This is by far the best book I've read all year. The kind of book that you can't put down till you finish. It's been a long time that I encounter a book I've felt compelled to finish in 3 sittings.

  • PALM Coast , FL

    So addictive it was easy to read from page one. As a mother the concept sucks you in and makes you wonder if you would make the same choices as the protagonist. Only complaint was the abrupt ending.

  • Tulsa , OK

    Very good book but I felt like they didn’t know how to wrap it up so the ending is very disappointing I wish they could have come up with a very different ending the book would have been amazing

  • Eagle Lake , MN

    Great book! Kept me guessing on who the heck was 0001?! Total twist at the end and left me wanting more. Will be on my “read again” list as I’m sure there’s things I missed the first time.

  • Franklin, PA

    I went into the story completely blind, I really enjoyed the story and I didn't know where the ending would take me. It has a huge plot twist and I have a feeling that it will divide the readers

  • New Castle, DE

    I AM SHOOK. What an amazing ride - I finished it in about 24 hours, it was too good to put down! Also the writing flowed so well and made it so easy to enjoy reading. So much love to this book!!!

  • Harleysville, PA

    It was dark but I read it at such an intense speed needing to know how it ended! Finished it in a day. I loved the little details added to the reveal I was not expecting & the full circle of it!

  • New York, NY

    You're thrown right in to the story and it moves quickly. I thought the story was gripping and it was well paced and a fast read. I'd definitely recommend it to fans of thrillers and mysteries.

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