Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Push (Scholastic)
Hardcover, 332 pages
Date Published: April 1, 2012
Source: Friend
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
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 collective PEOPLE always say that high school years are the best ones of your life, but I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that that statement is far from true for most people. For a select few, high school is four years of amazingness, but for most, it’s just a set of years that are good, or okay, or bearable. For others, it’s Hell. Siobhan Vivian’s The List explores a week in the life of eight different high school girls – some popular, some not. Their ages range from 14-17/18 and their social groups come to mean nothing. Absolutely nothing when THE LIST is released and four girls are crowned as being gorgeous and four others are ostracized and deemed the pinnacle of ugly at their high school.

Vivian’s take on such a cruel act is told with realistic voices and saddening honesty. It’s in human nature to feel pain, but it should not be human nature to inflict it upon others…but it seems that it is. High school can be beyond cruel and The List highlights how superficial and judgmental it can be. Vivian presents readers with eight girls and eight different perspectives, so, while quite an ambitious undertaking, it does fall short at times.

It’s impossible to adequately flesh out eight main characters in 300 pages, so I was okay with some characters sticking out more than others. I even felt a connection to some of them, but I wish there was more to the plot. I also wish the adult characters had more of a role in the entire situation; especially the principal who was involved from the moment the list went up. Instead, she has a couple of scenes with some stern glares and empty threats.

Despite all that, The List is still a quick read that shows how hard high school life can be and how objectified women, no girls, can be. The ending is a bit abrupt and leaves so many loose ends, but I still enjoyed the overall story. The ugly girls, the pretty girls, the popular girls, they all have something in common: they’re insecure, they’re self-conscious, and they want to be accepted even when they pretend they don’t. It’s a universal story that all young women can relate to.

Opening line: For as long as anyone can remember, the students of Mount Washington High have arrived at school on the last Monday in September to find a list naming the prettiest and the ugliest girl in each grade. ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines/passages: And while she certainly isn’t happy about it, ugly is something people say about each other, and say about themselves, without even thinking. The word is so generic, it’s almost meaningless.
     Almost. ~ pg. 22
 And another one:
“Something terrible happened to all of you girls. Someone took it upon himself or herself to single you out, give you a label, and present you as nothing more than the most superficial, subjective version of yourselves.” ~ pg. 78-79
3.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 
 
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7 comments:

Kandee said...

The List!? Oh my gosh, I'd been waiting for this to come around on the Blog-O-Sphere for a while. I'm really glad you liked it, so I can go out and buy it!

Great Review.

P.E. said...

This books sounds so interesting, I never heard of it before reading your review. Glad you liked the book. I'm curious about it and I'll definitely make sure to read it.

Christin said...

I've heard mixed reviews of this book, so I'm glad to see you liked it! I am curious to see how the list affects the girls, so I'll probably read it at some point. Thanks for the review!

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

High school years are the best of your life? **Raises eyebrows** Nope. I'm with you on this one, Nikki! Lol.

I'm not sure how much I'd go for eight main characters in 300 pages. I'm kind of a stickler for good character development, and like you said...that's really hard to do with the character/page ratio in this book. I think I'm going to pass on this one for now. It doesn't seem like a bad read or anything...but I'm not dying of curiosity either.

Lilian said...

I am somewhat intrigued with the plot, and its potential criticism for being labeled, but I dislike loose-ends, so I think I will pass on this one for now. Though I do admire the author for creating eight different characters, each with their distinct personalities.

Thanks for the review and happy reading!

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

Mel - Thedailyprophecy. said...

I've read a couple of reviews about it - I don't want to read too many to spoil the fun - and everytime I become more excited :D I can't wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for sharing!

Eliza Mellark said...

You've been tagged! http://ramblingsofeliza.blogspot.com/2012/05/ive-been-tagged.html

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