Monday, January 30, 2012

New Girl ~ Paige Harbison (eARC) review

New Girl
January 31, 2012
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Fascinated by the Harry Potter books and thinking that boarding school would open up a whole new - amazing - world to her, she'd applied for the first time before even starting high school, to Manderlay Academy. Only to be rejected.

At first she hated the the local public high school, Saint Augustine High School, finding it plain in comparison the the possibility of the esteemed Manderlay. But she's grown to like, if not love, her life - 'walks' with her dog consist of throwing a tennis ball into the waves, she has a best friend, the ocean air blows in her bedroom window every night - when her parents present their surprise.

Over the years - it's the summer before her senior year - they have been secretly submitting applications on her behalf to Manderlay. And she has been accepted. Not wanting to disappoint her parents, she feigns enthusiasm and has one last blowout summer with her friends before heading off to soon-to-snow New Hampshire to find what awaits her.

Far different from what she imagined when she first applied, she finds the is a place for her because the schools new girl of the year before, the girl everyone wanted to know Rebecca (Becca) Normandy has been missing since the end of the last school year.

Everyone seems to see her as replacing Becca - or trying to as it's obvious she never could. Becca's name and face are everywhere. Becca's photos have been left pinned to the wall on the side of the room that was Becca's but is now hers. Everyone has a story about Becca . . . Becca this . . . Becca that. The only one who doesn't seem to be as all about Becca is Max.

It's obvious to her that Becca's life was much, much beter . . . what's not obvious to any of them, though, is if she's really still out there just waiting to come take it all back.

New Girl is a retelling of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, one of my favorite, if not favorite-favorite books ever. So, perhaps I had higher hopes than most starting this? I definitely liked that it did keep a lot of the Rebecca story elements. Some of the things that were in New Girl were just little things - characters names that transferred over, if slightly changed, or locations that were used - but it was nice to recognize the similarities and how they connected Rebecca to New Girl.

While I do think that knowing Rebecca allows a reader to get more out of - or at least catch on to some things faster with - New Girl, I don't think it's a case of needing to. In fact, I plan on rereading Rebecca because New Girl brought the story up in my head enough (and reminded me how much I love it enough) that I want to revisit it!

It was hard while reading New Girl and the New Girl (we don't get her name until very late in the story) was having such a hard time at Manderlay to understand her desire to stick it out only to not disappoint her parents. (Or even, really, to go in the first place.) I wish some of that had been played up a little bit because it never seemed like she had a bad relationship with her parents but then she's having such a hard time and still doesn't want them to think she's anything other than cool. It just felt odd.

While it was interesting to see chapters from Becca's perspective as opposed to solely hearing everyone else rave about her or say how much the missed her, there were a couple of things that didn't quite follow through. One of them, I felt was going to explain her behavior some, (it's about half way through the book and would be spoilery or I'd quote it to make sure I'm not mistaken) but then nothing else came of it.

She does get deeper at a few points, but it wasn't quite enough to make me care about her or sympathize with her.

There's also more sex (or maybe the way it's a part of the novel, not necessarily how frequently?) and swearing than seems necessary - at least for a YA book.

Rating: 6/10

read thanks to HarlequinTeen & NetGalley

Soundtrack: Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO and The One That Got Away - Katy Perry

Other Books You Might Like: Rebecca
by Daphne DuMaurier and Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

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