Monday, January 23, 2012

Who is She? • New Girl

New Girl book cover
New Girl by Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Source/Format: NetGalley || e-galley
[I received this book from Harlequin Teen. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

When she moves to Manderley Academy at the start of her senior year, the nickname she earns is "new girl". That would have been perfectly fine with her... if it hadn't meant being constantly compared to Becca Normandy, the girl whose spot she took, the girl everyone liked... the girl who mysteriously disappeared.


If I were going to host a book club, I’d suggest New Girl as one of our reads. There’s just so much to this story - so many things to discuss and flesh out, and questions to ponder.

(Side note: It is really a wonderful things that two of my book blogger friends Jana & Magan had read this novel recently, so we were able to discuss it in-depth over chat after I had finished it! Thus my book club dream coming to life.)

New Girl is an intriguing, well-plotted novel, though there were times when it got a little confusing. But the confusion and the novel’s unpredictability guaranteed that my interest remained peaked up until the very end. All in all, it’s definitely worth a read!

The Characters

The new girl is the main narrator, and we don’t find out her actual name until the end. This is pretty much what her life is like - she lives in the shadow of Becca, the girl who’s spot she took at Manderley Academy. She is often criticized and ostracized because of her similarities to Becca or her supposed attempts to take Becca’s place, so I definitely felt sorry for her.

What’s most interesting to me about the new girl, however, is her transformation. She started off as an innocent new student, entirely willing to try to please her peers to fit in and trusting without question. She eventually decided that she had had enough and stood up for who she was in front of everyone. Though she did make a couple of questionable calls, I was rooting for her to stand up for herself.

One of the people who she really had to stand up to was her roommate Dana. That girl was just... She just appeared really crazy. Dana had problems, and it didn’t help that I found her obsession with Becca very creepy.

And, to complicate matters further, there were the boys - Johnny and Max. I personally didn’t care for either one, as I was never certain how I should feel about them. The romance was never really an essential part of the novel for me. It was, however, quite creepy that both boys had been interested in Becca before her disappearance - and that was enough reason for me to be all “No way, Jose” about both of them.

Of course, there were boys, two in particular, Johnny and Max. I actually didn’t care for either one, as I was never sure how I should feel for either of them. I did lean towards Max during a certain part of the novel, but for the most part, I was ambivalent towards them. After all, they had also both dated Becca - which was enough of a reason for me to be all, “No way, Jose” about the two of them.

Becca, on the other hand, is a more complicated character to discuss. She remained a mystery on the whole, but we do get to see that she was definitely flawed and under a lot of pressure as a character.

The Story

I found out before I read the novel that it had been based, very loosely, on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I looked up the novel and read its synopsis, wondering how in the world Paige Harbison would incorporate these elements into a modern day retelling. This is my conclusion: Paige is an awesome writer, as she was definitely able to modernize the tale of Rebecca and put her own spin on it.

The Writing

Though it took a bit of getting used to, I think it was genius of the author to use alternating point of views to tell the story, specifically those of the new girl and of Becca. While the New Girl is telling us what is currently happening to her at Manderley Academy, Becca is regaling us with the story of what went on while she was still around. This invited us to be active readers, as we tried to piece together all the events in our mind and figure out how what Becca had experienced led to what the new girl was going through.

There was also great use of parallelisms, as we often saw what was happening to the new girl had happened to Becca as well. Though each event may not have been exactly the same for both girls, there were definitely similarities and that just added to the intrigue.

Personally, I say you should...

... definitely read this novel. It’s a great combination of mystery and contemporary young adult fiction, with a few creepy bits tossed in there. I’m still not completely satisfied by the ending because I have so many unanswered questions, but I do think the novel is thought-provoking and interesting.

7 comments:

  1. Fantastic review, great job! I have wanted to read this book for ages!

    Jessica from Booked Up!
    http://www.bookedupbloggers.blogspot.com/

    :) xxx

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  2. Yay for your review! Great, great job! It was so much fun to have "Book Club" with you and Jana about this book. :) xoxo

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  3. V - (Which is a good thing! I just have nothing exciting to add to my comment... :P)

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  4. Great review! I loved our book club chat. :) Thanks for mentioning me! I'd say more, but we talked this book to death... haha.

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  5. I think the cover is what initially made me really want to read this and now I've read a few good reviews, including yours, and I want to read it even more!

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  6. I absolutely loved Rebecca when I read so I immediately requested this one when I saw it on NetGalley :) Glad to hear you liked it!! Having both the POV from new girl and Becca sounds really interesting! Though I'm kinda sad about the love interests... I like it when I can fall in love with the love interest as well ;)

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  7. Great review! I really like the sound of this one.

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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