Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bad Girls Don't Die

Alexis isn't thrilled with her life at home - her parents bicker a lot; her mother is working late hours, hoping for the promotion that has continually been denied her, and her sister is obsessed with her collection of creepy dolls. At school things are worse - her best friend moved away several years earlier, and she has managed to get on the bad side of many of the popular girls, who are snide and malicious. She has no real friends, but she does have her passion for photography.

Things go from bad to worse the day she and her little sister Kasey are in the basement, and she finds herself telling Kasey a story that is so vivid, it's like a movie playing in her mind. The story is disturbing, so much so that Alexis changes the ending. From that day, Kasey changes. She becomes secretive and moody - almost as though at times she's a different person altogether. When Megan, Alexis's nemesis at school, approaches her privately, saying she thinks Kasey is possessed and that she might be able to help, Alexis is suspicious and angry. But later, as her life spins out of control, she realizes that Megan might be her only hope.

For some reason I was under the impression when I opened this book that it was going to be a YA vampire story. I was not expecting a creepy, classic ghost story, but I was surprised and delighted to find one. The plot is fairly traditional, but the characters are well drawn and interesting, and the stereotypical cheerleaders vs. the outcasts element took an unexpected and welcome direction. Creepy dolls, ghosts out for vengeance, possession, secrets buried in the past - these are horror elements that give me delicious shivers when I read - particularly the creepy dolls. (My children find my fear of dolls hilarious - I refrain from telling them exactly what their own glassy-eyed spooky dolls might get up to in the middle of the night because I am a grownup. Kind of.) A few elements strained the suspension of my disbelief (such as the fact that they'd been living in that house for years but knew nothing of its history), but the story was such fun that I really did not mind. There are occasional flashes of humor that contrasted nicely against the dark storyline, and also a touch of romance. I very much enjoyed this spooky ghost story and its strong, engaging heroine.

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender (Disney Hyperion Books, 2009)

Also reviewed at:
Bloggin' 'bout Books: "...although it keeps the spooky going strong, there's also a lot of levity in it. Mostly it's due to pink-haired Alexis, whose sarcasm and self-deprecating humor actually make this horror novel funny."
The Compulsive Reader: "Though the haunted house and possession stories have been done many times before, Alender's fresh slant on the topic will enthrall readers and leave them just a bit creeped out."
Karin's Book Nook: "There are several layers to the mystery and the author generates a completely creepy feeling throughout the entire book."

14 comments:

  1. Sounds spooky!! I'll defiantly read this book with the lights on ;)

    Can I read this book for the RIP Challenge?

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  2. I am right there with you on the creepy doll front!

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  3. it's nice to get surprises, especially if we enjoy it!

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  4. Margo - I think it's a perfect fit for the RIP challenge - I read it for that, and it was perfectly shivery.

    Mariel - Even as I child I couldn't stand them. Give me a teddy bear over a doll any day. :)

    DesLily - Yes, it is! I rarely read the cover flap, or more than a few sentences of it, because it so often ruins the book with spoilers. So I get quite a few of these surprises, but I don't mind.

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  5. I've wondered about this one. Thanks! It sounds great. I love a good ghost story. And yeah, I'm ok with dolls in the daytime but I don't like to be near them in the dark and I'm never sure if they are in the exact spot I thought they were in last time I looked ;-O

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  6. Nicola - That is because those dolls definitely aren't in the last place you looked. Almost, but not quite. They love to torment us like that. :)

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  7. Glass-eyed dolls are EVIL! You should teach your children early don't let them find out for themselves! ;)

    I am envious of you because this is one I am really itching to read and yet am being a good little budget-conscious girl and waiting for the pb version!

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  8. Cat - I have tried, but they just laugh at me! (Yeah, kids, keep on laughing right as those little china fingers wrap around your throat in your sleep...) Good thing they don't read my blog comments! :-)

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  9. I liked this one, and it was a nice change from all of the vampire books.

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  10. Ms. Yingling - I agree - it was a nice change! It wouldn't have sat on my shelf as long as it did had I known it was a ghost story. I'm glad you liked it, too. :-)

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  11. I have this one on my TBR shelf - but your review was so awesome that I'm gonna take it and read it soon (this week hopefully!)

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  12. Thanks, Joanne - I hope you enjoy your creepy read! :-)

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  13. I am SO late responding to this--I am going back through bookmarked reviews and excerpting them for my website, and I found so much to love about this review. Thanks so much for featuring BGDD!

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  14. Katie - Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the review. I enjoyed your book very much, and I'm looking forward to whatever you turn your attention to next.

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