Friday, October 12, 2012
Book Review: The List
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
The List is a difficult book to review. First off, though, I have to applaud the author for managing to write from eight different POVs and still keep the story from being too confusing. I've never read a book with so many POVs, and I think Vivian handled that well.
The main characters...all eight of them...were hard to like. Each of their personalities were widely different, which I thought was good - I didn't get the girls confused much since they each had a unique voice. Yet, out of all eight characters, there wasn't a single girl that I really liked or admired. Yes, they were all struggling with something, but it was just too hard to connect with them because the story is so short. With eight girls and forty-six chapters, that's roughly five or six chapters for each girl. Their story didn't feel complete when so little time was spent on each of them. If there were four girls instead, I would have been more involved in their story.
The plot was good. The idea of the list was original and I liked seeing how the girls responded to the fact that they were on the list. But some things bugged me. Like, what was with the principal? She acted like she was going to do something to stop the people responsible for making the list, and in the end she did nothing.
And what was up with the ending? It didn't even seem like an ending. It felt like at least half the characters' stories were unfinished. By the end, it seemed like nothing was resolved. We didn't find out what happened to some of the girls as a result of being on the list. It was completely unsatisfying and really leaves you hanging! I have to say, this is one of the worst endings I've ever read.
One other thing that annoyed me was the way one of the characters, Lauren, was portrayed. She was homeschooled for all her previous school years, and she was a stereotypical homeschooled character who had waist-length hair, didn't wear makeup, her mom was her best friend, and she was very naive and clueless. Please. I'm homeschooled, and I find that simply insulting. Not all homeschoolers are like Lauren, and I seriously hope that people who read The List realize that.
I feel like I've really criticized The List in this review, and while there were certainly things I disliked, I did enjoy the story overall. I'll end on a positive note: one thing I loved was the compulsive reading style. I read this book in just a few short hours. The story flowed and held my interest enough that I lost track of time while reading. And I will say that I liked finding out who wrote the list. It fit into the story well and was well-done.
If you are looking for a fast but thought-provoking contemporary read and don't mind a handful of characters who are somewhat sterotypical teenage girls...then give The List a try. You might be surprised and end up enjoying it!
My rating: 6 out of 10
~ The Bookworm