Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Source: Bought from Borders
Cover: I pulled this book out of the shelf and almost dropped it onto the floor it was so incredible creepy. There is something mesmerizing about the lace over the model's face, the pale pink nightgown and the pink toenails. It's incredible and does an awesome job of telling you exactly what you'll be getting with this novel.
First Sentence: "I stood perfectly still, looking up at the house and the dark sky behind it."
The Mini-Review: Don't let the horror aspect scare you off from this novel. It's jam packed with incredible passages, suspense, awesome and unique characters and a plot that will leave you racing for the end.
The Book Summary:
Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy, thirteen-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own antisocial, anti-cheerleader attitude.
When a family argument results in tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunctional to dangerous. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green; she uses odd, old-fashioned language-- and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her weird behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves, water boils on the unlit stove, and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough for the girls to see their breath.
Alexis wants to believe it's all in her head, until these seemingly harmless occurrences become life-threatening-- to her, to her family, and to her budding relationship with student council vice president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey; but what if the green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
There were several instances I thought about giving this book away without reading it because of the cover, because of the dolls, because I'm a chicken... I decided to suck it up and read this novel for Halloween and I am so glad I did. This novel has everything I could want-- a strong willed and very likable heroine, a unique cast of supporting characters, a mystery that will have you guessing to the end, writing that made me jealous on every single page and the right amount of creepy to send me flying through the pages.
Alexis was the girl everyone sets out to write when they want an original and spunky main character. However, there are very few authors who could master her the way Alender did. Not only did I believe Alexis's rebel without a care attitude, I also never once found her over annoying and she didn't judge people until they'd given her enough proof to do so. She was pretty open minded for being anti-social and no matter how hard she tried to push people away, she always ended up giving them a chance which I loved. She was also completely willing to speak her mind, even when what she had to say was not the most popular thing in the world. She was fiercely loyal to those she loved and incredibly brave (which is important for a lead in a horror novel). Alender was amazing at really showing us Alexis's fear and making her push through it to get the job done, even when the task was hopeless.
Speaking of the Alexis's relationship with her sister Kasey, I really want to emphasize how real it felt. Both parents were absentee most of the time so it was basically Alexis doing the normal "mom" stuff with Kasey, who is a temperamental, overly emotional girl. But Alexis wasn't overly nice to her sister and her sister wasn't overly sweet to her. They fought like normal siblings which was nice to see but when the time came down, Alexis was willing to push aside her frustrations and be there for Kasey. I was really impressed by this.
I was also glad to see some fresh faces in the YA genre. Yes, Kasey hates cheerleaders and there are some typical mean girls but some of them surprised me in this novel. How often have you heard of a paranormal obsessed captain of the cheer squad? Or what about a preppy VP with a darker past? I loved how Alender took stereotypes and turned them on their head.
This novel had a great plot, weaving the present and two separate instances in the past that Kasey had to figure out. I liked having three different situations and it also added layers to the mystery. It also provided helpful to see Kasey's side of the story through someone else's eyes. One of the instances is of a woman being possessed by the same thing that has taken hold of Kasey and Alexis gets to experience what it must be like for Kasey at all times. This proved really helpful.
I did have a few questions that where never answered-- mainly, when did Kasey become possessed and did Kasey really try to break a girl's arm? These are asked several times but there is no definitive answer. I would have liked to know.
The writing in this novel was flawless and fluid. Every page surprised me with an incredible observation or a beautiful passage. I was particularly impressed with the unique descriptions. For example, Kasey describes her transition into how she is today:
"That's when I began keeping really quiet in class, and finding ways to show the other kids I wasn't scared of them-- like staring them straight in the eye when they looked at me, taking a step toward them when they talked to me, or walking right up to them and getting in their personal space if I heard them say my name. Saying the meanest things I could think of whenever I had the chance-- repeating rumors, embellishing them. I found out that Kira Conroy had been arrested for shoplifting at the mall, and made sure everybody knew about it. The girl who'd had five beers on New year's Eve and peed her pants, the girl who'd tripped and fell off the stage at the Miss Teen California pageant-- I shared those stories the moment I heard them. All's fair in war, right? So suddenly I wasn't nobody anymore. I was somebody. Somebody everyone was afraid of."As a narrator, Alexis doesn't hold back and she doesn't apologize for who she is. As an author, Alender is masterful at showing this in every page of the book. She's also incredibly skillful at mixing humor with horror, sucking some of the scare out of the wound just to let it creep back in in full force. She uses sight, smell, sound and setting to saturate everything with a tinge of horror.
Bad Girls Don't Die is the perfect novel to read in the daytime, with all the lights on and music blasting so you don't have to listen to the little noises that go bump in your walls. It really is that scary. But to cushion the blow is a cast of great characters, a female lead who isn't afraid to be herself, the right amount of humor and a plot that will have you ripping through the pages. I read this book in one day and savored every word!