Review: The Girl with the Gold Bikini by Lisa Walker
The Girl with the Gold Bikini - Lisa Walker
Published by Wakefield Press
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This review is part of the Aus YA Bloggers Blog Tour and the publisher has provided a copy for review.
Whenever I see a girl with a gold bikini, I think of Princess Leia. Here on the Gold Coast, gold bikinis are common, so I think of Princess Leia a lot.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Grace has deferred her law degree and ducked out of her friends’ gap-year tour of Asia. Instead, she’s fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a private investigator, following in the footsteps of Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars – who taught her everything she knows, including a solid line in quick-quipping repartee, the importance of a handbag full of disguises, and a way of mixing business with inconvenient chemistry.
Playing Watson to the Sherlock of her childhood friend, detective agency owner Rosco (once the Han Solo to her Princess Leia), Olivia pursues a routine cheating husband case from the glitzy Gold Coast to Insta-perfect Byron Bay, where she faces yoga wars, dirty whale activism, and a guru who’s kind of a creep.
Olivia Grace is a teenage screwball heroine for the #metoo era, and The Girl with the Gold Bikini is a body-positive detective romp, rich with pop-culture pleasures.
Initially, I struggled to connect into The Girl with the Gold Bikini. I was very excited about the idea of the book - I love mysteries and teen detectives - however, very unusual for me, it took forever to get through the first half of the story. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, or possibly I was just suffering from too specific expectations. Then I hit the halfway mark, suddenly was VERY invested, and sped through the rest of the book.
Olivia Grace is a great character. I really like that she decided to have a go at her dream of being a detective (even though it seemed a bit implausible from a reader’s perspective). I love how determined she is, even when her confidence is shaken, even as she struggles with it not being what she expected.
At first, I wasn't keen on Rosco, then he grew on me. It wasn't that I disliked him, I was just a bit meh about him until he broke down Olivia's door. He then improved quite a bit. I liked that most of the story focused on Olivia and even though he was the boss, from the reader's perspective it was kind of like he was the sidekick. I really liked Olivia's relationship with her sister. The other characters she gets to know (often in disguise) were all unique and interesting and added a lot to the feel of the story.
The genuine body acceptance in the story is also a real highlight. Lisa Walker does a good job of including realities about appearance-based discrimination with humour. She also deals with the issue of sexual harassment well, and I really, really loved the way things turned out with the Meter Maids.
Overall, I'd say The Girl in the Golden Bikini was an enjoyable summer read. Olivia is a fascinating character I enjoyed reading about, and the ultimate result of her investigations was a very satisfying conclusion.
Check out the rest of the blog tour here.
Lisa Walker writes novels for adults and young adults. She has also written an ABC Radio National play and been published in the Age, Griffith Review, Big Issue and the Review of Australian Fiction. Her recent novels include a young adult coming-of-age story, Paris Syndrome (HarperCollins, 2018), and a climate change comedy, Melt (Lacuna, 2018). She has worked in environmental communication and as a wilderness guide and recently spent six months in a Kmart tent in outback Australia. Lisa lives, surfs and writes on the north coast of New South Wales. The Girl with the Gold Bikini is her sixth novel.