The Collective

Alison Gaylin

Quick Synopsis

The Collective is a riveting psychological thriller about how far mothers will go to seek justice – or revenge – for their dead children. While this is a thriller, it also explores grief and the aftermath of crimes in a real way.

Publisher’s Synopsis

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.


This story is nothing if not clever and wildly entertaining. It took a few pages to pick up as Gaylin sets up the context. But once the story takes off, it just did not quit. The Collective packs both a punch and jaw-dropping twists.

Portions of The Collective‘s plot are ripped from headlines. Gaylin does this in a way that makes the book feel like a completely new take on scenarios (think Brock Turner) we are familiar with. It is hard to describe. It is both social commentary about society and the justice system but also human nature and our darkest fantasies. I am still trying to wrap my head around all this book left me with two days later.

My only criticism is that I wish the characters had more depth. I do acknowledge that this can be difficult in a thriller, but I definitely thought there was room for it in The Collective. The ending quickly culminated, and I could have used a bit more time for its resolution. I was left wondering WTF without time to fully digest the ending and its repercussions.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Collective and am ready to discuss it with anyone who has read it. It will be a book I will be thinking about for awhile. I recommend it, especially if you like books that dive into morally grey areas.


Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Character Development

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Collective


Mysteries & Thrillers

Publication Date
November 2, 2021

Page Count

Storygraph Rating
4.13 stars

Goodreads Rating
4.12 stars

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