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The Student News Site of Kilgore High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Kilgore High School

The Mirror

Bright Young Women Book Review

Breleigh Warlick
Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll is the intense story of the survivors of the Ted Bundy murders coping with the loss of their loved ones. The cover art on this book represents the protagonist, Pamela, witnessing the event with her own eyes.

WARNING: Major spoilers of Jessica Knoll’s Bright Young Women ahead. Also, this is a true crime book, so if you are uncomfortable with darker topics, it would probably be best not to read this review or the book it’s about.


“I once had a doctor tell me that there are a certain number of catastrophically bad things that, statistically speaking, must happen every year to a certain number of people- rare diseases, freak accidents, and yes, serial killer attacks. Little grains of tragedy carried by the wind. I could make peace with the idea that one of those currents happened to catch my corner of the world.”

-Bright Young Women, Jessica Knoll


I love learning about anything true crime related, so I was overjoyed when I heard that Jessica Knoll was going to release her new book, “Bright Young Women”, the historically fictional story of survivors of the well-known Ted Bundy murders navigating through life after having their loved ones taken away from them. I’ve heard the Ted Bundy story multiple times from the perspectives of lawyers, police, and the press, but I hadn’t ever seen a concept where it was fully from the victims’ perspectives.

I ended up getting the book for Christmas and reading it over the rest of the break, and let me tell you, it was so worth it. The way that Knoll tackles difficult topics like the crimes of Ted Bundy, grief, and feminism so powerfully and captivatingly left me absolutely starstruck.

Not only this, but Jessica Knoll had the empathy for the actual victims’ families to keep the characters in her book fictional, as not to attempt portraying real-life victims in whatever way she wanted just for a plot device (cough, cough- unlike the Dahmer show on Netflix- cough, cough). Yet she still gives these characters so much life that it’s tough to tell whether or not the story is based on a true one if you haven’t researched the book.

The story switches between the perspectives of Pamela and Ruth. Pamela is our protagonist who has recently had her best friend killed, and Ruth is a victim whose life was cut short just when she was feeling comfortable in her skin. Our third main character, Tina, was in a relationship with Ruth before she was killed. When investigators won’t take Tina or Pamela seriously, the two team up to figure out who is behind these murders.

One of the things I love most about this book is that it does an amazing job of showing that Ted Bundy was not the charismatic and smart guy that the media made him out to be. She even goes so far as not to say his name once in the entire book, instead calling him “The Defendant”. She points out in her writing that the only reason he was able to get away with his crimes for so long was because of law enforcement’s incompetence.

This book also shows how messed up the media was back then for portraying Bundy as they did. One of Pamela’s friends, Carl, is an aspiring journalist who starts on her side in the issue, and he wants to help her uncover the real truth behind this man in a passage he’s working on. But years later, when the trials are taking place, she reunites with him and realizes that he was never going to publish it in the first place. He just wanted to publish what the people were going to read, and during the time of the Ted Bundy trials, people wanted to see the genius guy who was somehow able to escape the confines of his high-security prison to continue his cunning crimes.

Not only does this book point out the media for how they made Bundy look, but it also shows how the survivors were treated. In the first few chapters, the sorority house girls are trying to keep appearances up, so they can be praised for how strong they were in the face of devastation. Their plans all go to waste, though, when the press completely twists the story and describes them as sad, terrified girls who were so in shock that they couldn’t function.

What makes this book even more sad to me is the fact that Knoll knew what she was talking about in it. She had done all of her research before even starting to write it. This story was made to be extremely similar to other past cases and it could’ve been entirely possible, especially with all of the victims whose names were and may forever be unaccounted for. There were actual women who went through this traumatic experience and had to watch as the world went bananas over the man who had done it to them.

This book was amazing, and putting it down was like torture because I always wanted to know what would happen next. If you’re the type of person who finds true crime interesting, then I would definitely recommend this book to you. It’s a suspenseful, well-written, and important read.

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