18.10.12

Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott



happy thursday. 
do something crazy. 
have an ice cream. 
call an estranged relative. 





title:  Living Dead Girl

author: Elizabeth Scott

pages: 176

format: Hardcover

isbn/asin: 978-1416960591

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Teenagers.  Anyone mature enough to deal with some really tough topics. Those who enjoy books about the dark side of real life.



Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.

Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.

Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.




the basics
Chilling.  Devastating.  Living Dead Girl is a story of every parent's, and every child's, worst nightmare.  We enter the world of Alice, five years after she has been kidnapped by the abusive Ray.  The story winds between her memories of that fateful day and her struggle to escape his new plan for her: find a new Alice.  This isn't for the weak stomached.  Alice goes through some of the worst torture, physical and sexual, a person can experience.  In books like this, it's easy for the the violence to become maudlin or offensively exploitative.  Instead of a meaningful book, it becomes little better than a shower scene in a slasher film.  Scott avoids that pitfall.  By focusing on Alice's mental and emotional reactions rather than the details of the tortures, she shows a faithful picture of the horror without making it tacky.  Alice is instantly lovable and her story is a mix of thriller and memoir that picks up and doesn't let go.


plot . 5/5
There's no slow buildup.  You're thrown right into Alice's hell.  It's an interesting choice.  We see the kidnapping and glimpses of the past several years in flashback chapters, but not directly.  We see her memories.  It allows the story to pick up right away and to avoid getting down in a lot of exposition.  It also allows us to come in at Alice's worst moment: the moment Ray says he has a new plan for her.  This plan, to steal another child, is horrifying in itself, and a clever literary choice.  It shows us just how broken Alice is mentally--so desperate for freedom from her abuse that she'll do anything to remove Ray's attention from her.  The ending is abrupt, but I don't think it would have been good for it to drag either.

concept . 5/5
You see it a lot on crime shows, but this is the first book I've read about it.  It's a rare and horrific thing, kidnapping and sexual slavery.  It make for a book that could be sensationalized.  Used as "torture porn."  It's not.  Scott does a great job of portraying Alice's life faithfully.  The story focuses mostly on her inner thoughts and reactions, so we see the true damage caused by this situation, beyond just the physical.  It's an important point to make, and it underscores the message of the title--Living Dead Girl--perfectly.

characters . 5/5
There aren't many characters.  Alice lives a secluded life with her abuser, who doesn't even appear in the text as often as you'd expect.  However, we still know him intimately.  We know him through Alice's descriptions of his abuse.  Her fear of him.  The details she slips about his life and his threats.  We even pity him, briefly, while still hating him.  In the same way, Jake is both lovable and loathable.  He's no prince charming, but he's as deeply broken as Alice and looking for any way to escape.  He's that dark part of all of us.

style . 5/5
The style is beautiful, lyrical, poetic at times.  But not in a flowery way.  It shows how deeply Alice lives in her inner world.  Dead, but still moving through the world.  Still forming impressions.  Her voice has a dreamlike, trancelike quality to it--perfect for a zombie, a Living Dead Girl.  It's gorgeous writing that you don't get to see much in the young adult genre.

mechanics . 5/5
Part flashback, part thriller, part philosophy.  We get impressions, memories, thoughts, dreams--it's like being inside of Alice's head.  And of course the formatting is polished and pretty.


take home message
A chilling slice of a tortured life that shows just how deeply abuse can leave scars, in and out.


Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


2 comments:

  1. I want this books. This is my kind of dark psych thriller read. Thanks for sharing

    Braine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely dark! I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete