Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: New Girl

Title: New Girl
Author: Paige Harbison
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

I read many mixed reviews on New Girl before starting it and admittedly I was wary to begin. I had a few blogger friends who didn’t enjoy it, and a few who loved it, and I was at one of those crossroads where I felt worried that I might be drawn in the middle. What if I didn’t like it? Would my blogger friends who had find me insane for not and be on my case constantly about their opinions and trying to convince me of its awesome-ness? Or if I did love it, would the ones that didn’t keep ragging on it and trying to get me to understand it’s not as great as I make it out to be? It was just one of those situations that I seemed to almost overanalyze--even though I know deep down my group respects everyone’s opinions, and we all have our differences and tastes.

Rather surprisingly, I was a bit in the middle overall with my opinions on New Girl. I didn’t NOT like it, and I didn’t absolutely love it so much that I’ll sing its praises from the rooftops. It had its ups and downs for me. I breezed through the pages so quickly though, wanting to know what was going to happen by the end, that I found it rather engrossing and entertaining. This is a tale of social issues and mystery with a lot of twists and turns that will leave your head reeling.
I hated Becca though. Perhaps this was intentional. I hope it was. But this was a character I could not find myself even finding an inkling of sympathy for, and by the middle of the book, I loathed her. I even came to dread reading from her point of view at times.

I didn’t realize until about fifty pages in that Ms. Harbison didn’t give "New Girl" (the main character and mostly the narrator) a name. Of course, "New Girl" gets a name toward the very end when it’s finally revealed to the reader, and I won’t reveal it here as it’s considered a spoiler. But this style intrigued me in the writing. Honestly, I’ve never read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier--the inspiration behind this book. So, now I feel like I should add it to my TBR and take a peak into what inspired this engaging story.

There was a very realistic approach to the story. With one problem for me. I didn’t like how the character was whisked away to the boarding school on a whim of some twelve-year-old desire (and now a senior in high school). Her desires have changed since then, and in reality, I think her parents would have known that. It is my personal opinion that the author could have done a better job at creating the situation at putting the character into boarding school instead of that (divorce or parents going out of country on some business trip even perhaps? Just some random out-there examples anyway).

The romantic interest was a little odd at times--maybe too fast in the beginning. I had to grow on Max. I loved how he did develop toward the end as a character, growing into a more sensible young man who cared and was not concerned with ridiculous drama between the other students. I liked his protective side toward "New Girl"--and sympathized toward his past relationship troubles he had with Becca and her manipulations. Speaking of the other students: I just couldn’t find a connection with any of them. The minor characters listed throughout that seemed to make more of a presence didn’t grab my attention enough. They were either awful or dull, or lost me somewhere in their lack of knowledge of anything. I didn’t understand how not one single person could not know one little secret about Becca and everyone was immediately "New Girl’s" enemy the moment she stepped in the door of the school. She didn’t even get a chance--and it was a bit confusing at times honestly.

New Girl has the qualities to be great--although I had some nitpicks of course. In the end, I found it to be entertaining and engaging-- a realistic read that I breezed right through in a short time while holding my breath. This is not a contemporary for the faint of heart! It was a great read--especially coming from someone who is just starting to get more into this genre. ;)

4 stars!




  1. Ive heard mixed reviews about this too, but every reviews I read makes me more intrigued, including yours! Great review! x


  2. Nice review. I didn't quite like this one as much as you did. I was turned off my the over use of alcohol and drugs. Plus the meaningless sex wasn't a strong point either, however it did align with the character. I liked the growth the main character had and the good messages this story has for teens about branching out. What about you?

  3. I love your review. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It wasn't a favorite, but I liked it all the same. I haven't read Rebecca either but I kind of want to now!


  4. I'm glad you liked it, I've heard so many mixed reviews. But the one thing that really puts me off is the fact that New Girl doesn't get a name until the end. I'm sure that's the point, to keep readers on their toes. But that really bugs me, and if I'm honest? It's the one reason I haven't picked this one up.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  5. Hey Jac-- I heard that the reasoning behind that is because it was inspired by another book called "Rebecca", but since I haven't read that other book, I couldn't make the comparison. I personally thought the author did a fantastic job pulling off the style of not giving the New Girl a name until the end--you hardly notice at all. I didn't even realize until about fifty pages in that I still didn't know her name and it didn't bother me. Haha. But that's just me. I was wary picking it up too because of the mixed reviews so I understand. :)

  6. @ Gina-- I agree that it probably got a bit over the top with the sex/alcohol/drugs as well. I don't think in no way at all the author was trying to encourage [teen] readers of this behavior either, but more send out a warning. But I do think it's meant to be more of an older teen/older YA read rather than for the younger audiences.
    But I agree, it aligned with the characters and I also liked the growth and good messages about branching out and decision making for life. Sorry that you didn't like it so much in the end though--but completely understandable. :)


  7. Sounds interesting. I've heard about the book, but this is the first review I've read. It definitely looks intriguing so I might have to check it out now!

  8. I'm with you I really didn't like Max much until the end. Then he really started to grow on me. Becca, was evil, I didn't like how she operated. When I found out her background I did become slightly more sympathetic to her cause.


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