Book Review: New Girl

Title/Author:  New Girl by Paige Harbison

Genre:  Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, Retellings

Published:  January 31st 2012 by Harlequin Teen

E-Book, 314 pages

How I Got This Book:  Received as an E-book from the Publisher via NetGalley for review

Why I Picked It Up?:  I read the synopsis on NetGalley and was intrigued enough to request to review.  And I got it.  So now I am going to read it.

Book Jacket Blurb:  (From Goodreads)

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.”

My Review of the Work:

First thoughts:  A very interesting introduction.  This novel starts out with introducing the “me” of the story–the first person narrator who is transferring to a boarding school in New Hampshire from her sunny Florida home.  She arrives and tries to get settled in but she cannot–the mysterious presence of “Becca” seems to prevent her from fully moving in to her own room.  She is known only to readers as “New Girl”–you literally don’t find out her name until the last 2 pages.  In the next chapter, the story switches focus onto Rebecca Normandy a year before, who is just moving in to the same school.  Her story (told from 3rd person) tells us how Becca moves in and seemingly transforms the school in a very short time from prim and proper to “Let’s have some fun!”  The intrigue and the mystery surrounding this story make it very Lois Duncan-like–an eerie story filled with a mysterious spookiness that you can’t quite pin down until the end.

In the details?:  Why would seniors be taking algebra II at a boarding school, which is supposed to be advanced?  Even on-level math track at my high school took algebra II their junior year.  Nit-picky, I know, but it is the details of a novel that win me over–I want to see that an author has really thought through every facet of their story.

Becca is a strong personality–she’s the girl who gets what she wants, and uses anything and everything to get it all.  Including her looks.  She manipulates the boys and the girls around her in order to make herself known around school as this huge presence.  I really do not like her–she is the stereotypical high school skank.

An interesting facet of this novel is that the Becca story is revealing secrets to the reader that the rest of the characters in the present story with New Girl don’t know yet, so it is extremely compelling to continue reading, to see how these secrets of Becca’s life come out in the open.

There are definite aspects of this novel that I really like:  the intrigue, the mystery, the parallel stories, and some dynamics of the relationships between New Girl and Max, New Girl and Johnny, and Dana and Becca.  But there are also things that I find really annoying, like the sudden mood changes and the little unrealistic details that just make this story not so convincing, like certain conversations between New Girl and Max.  And the fact that she just completely opens up to her professor.  No teenager would do that, not to an adult they have talked to twice, and yet here she is, pouring her little heart out.  Just not that realistic to me.  And, what kind of school would allow its students to go unchaparoned to a hotel for a weekend birthday party?!

The plotline is compelling enough to keep the reader reading, whether it be due to the intrigue or the mystery or the romance or the drama.  This novel has something that can appeal to everyone.  While some parts are seemingly ridiculous, other parts are interesting and keep the reader wanting to know what happens.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book.

This novel is definitely likeable–it has a compelling story that is eeriely intriguing.  Yet the romance side is definitely there, so if you are a big fan of romance (which I apparently am not) then you will probably love this book.  =)  But overall, this book gets a 3 rating for being a good and easy read.

This is my honest review and I was in no way compensated for it.

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