Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Sadie Marlowe is an ace lacrosse player from "small town" Oregon who is thrown into the world of the American elite when she is recruited to play for Keating Hall, one of the most exclusive prep schools on the East coast. As Sadie's late mother also attended Keating, she innocently believes that her athletic skilled combined with her mother's alumni status paved the way to her scholarship, but throughout the course of being "kidnapped", drugged, waking with strange bruises and even stranger memories, she learns a whole different side of the story. Billed as both a thriller and YA, I unfortunately would say this novel does not meet either category.
Don't get me wrong, there were some positive aspects of this book: SOME of the characters had a reality to them that was refreshing, the overall plot was well thought out and interesting. Unfortunately for me though, the negatives clung on and I never could quite get over them.
First, foremost and utterly annoying was the "naive small town girl meets the new world of the rich and powerful east coast elite". This concept in itself makes perfect sense; my issue with this is that our supposed small town "hick" is from Portland, Oregon. I admit that I of course take the absurdity of how her hometown was portrayed more personally as a native Portlander myself, but that shouldn't decrease the clear lack of knowledge or research that went into the decision to frame this as her hometown. Throughout the book, references are constantly made to her small town upbringing, her lack of social knowledge through comments like "you really are small town, aren't you", Sadie's assertion that she wore jean shorts to her last school dance, and the reaction Sadie got from "people in Portland" regarding her mom's drug abuse. Sure, Portland is definitely a far cry from suburban Virginia and money means different things in different places, but if you want to portray someone as being "small town" and naive, you should probably pick someplace that is actually small and off the beaten path, rather than a relatively sized city that is by no stretch "cut off" from normal society. Sure, this may be somewhat trivial and your average reader may not know enough to see the incorrect representation, but inaccuracies that are not necessary or justified are a one way ticket to frustration in my reading world.
Aside from the Portland snaffu, there were also other weaknesses that brought this one a bit down for me. First of all, the storyline itself was interesting and well thought out, but the actual construction left much to be desired. Situations were not built enough to cause any suspense, clues were blatant and left nothing to the imagination, and characters were for the most part allowed to develop only to the minimum point needed to make them useful. When finished reading, I unfortunately did not really care much what became of them, as I was never allowed to truly care about them.
Lastly, this novel seriously toed the line on being the YA it claims to be. Sure, the characters were young adults, but the novel is definitely more appropriate for a slightly older audience. I read something previously from the author about this, and she stated she feels like the situations presented in the novel are what normal teens are dealing with and want to read about. While it may be true that it is what they "want" to read about, I don't know if it is necessarily what they "should" be reading about - I personally would not want any mid-teen of mine reading about rich prep school girls having their personal hairdressers sneak booze into their dorm rooms or the "cool" senior boys getting drunk at every dance, all with no consequences.
Overall, an OK read for a rainy weekend afternoon but nothing I would write home about.
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