Title: Poor Little Dead Girls
Author: Lizzie Friend
Rating: ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published November 2013
When I picked this book up from my local library, I'll admit right now that the title caught my attention. Yes, I know, I've committed one of the infamous Horribly Horrible Acts of Crime That You Could Commit As a Reader--picking up a book solely because the cover looks interesting. But I mean hey, can you even really blame me? This is Friend's first novel, so I didn't have any other works to base it by. The title itself--Poor Little Dead Girls--just gave me chills. Being a big fan of Pretty Little Liars (yes, the books, not the show, because BOOKS ARE MORE IMPORTANT!), this kind of stuff interests me. And maybe also because my dad is a detective. Either or.
Anyway, back to the review. What I loved about this book was how the story wasn't completely seen before. Yeah, there are tons of books out there that deal with sketchy stuff going on at boarding schools. For some reason, this story just seemed different for me. And way more interesting. In the story, Sadie is a not-so-rich girl attending a preppy boarding school where their transportation service isn't buses--it's limos. That's just a quick glance into how posh and elite this school is. Of course, as most elite schools, Keating Hall has a secret society--The Order of Optimates, also known as the Sullas. These "Sullas" tell Sadie that their ultimate goal is to make the world a better place--mainly through charity and their connections that are pretty high-up in the food chain. (When I say "high up," I mean seriously high up...the entire group of high school kids managed to get into a Presidential Ball at the White House, for crying out loud.)
The secret society thing was definitely intriguing and held my attention once I got into it. As for the plot itself, in the beginning it felt like the generic boarding school mystery plot, but once you get deep into the story and the drama begins to unravel (drama which I will kindly not spoil for you unless you want me to), you totally get hooked.
The next paragraph contains spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happens, skip the starred paragraph below!
***One of my favorite parts of the story (okay, maybe not favorite because I'll sound really creepy, but definitely the most intriguing) was when Sadie and Jessica discovered that the Sullas had been storing Sadie's eggs (as well as some others from other women) to possibly scientifically create "perfect, genetically-sound" children to help carry on the Sulla cause. *Shudders* Eeeesh. Creeeeeeepy. And the fact that members of this society are told who they have to marry and have offspring with is just plain wrong and it honestly shocked me. Members of the Sulla society are allowed to pick who they basically want to "mate" and marry and spend the rest of their lives with, but that significant other not only needs to be another Sulla member, but also has to have their DNA reviewed to make sure that strong offspring could be produced. As sickening and scary as it sounds, something like that ("approved" marriages and producing offspring in test tubes without parental consent) are both things that really happen. Not on a scale like this, of course (or at least I certainly hope not), but it does happen. It was a pretty eye-opening revelation for me. ***
There were only two issues I had with this book that kept me from bumping my review up to four stars (because technically, this review deserves three and a half instead of three because I more than liked it, but I less than really liked it...#confliction).
The first thing that turned me off a little was a paragraph on page 59 (spoiler free, so don't you worry), and I placed it below:
"She sat down on her bed and cracked open her laptop to check her e-mail. She had one new message, but she didn't recognize the sender. It was from an anonymous Keating address, just a jumble of letters and numbers, and the subject line was a single word: Fate. Even stranger was the cryptic message inside.
We are all at the mercy of fate.
Soon you will know yours.
Alright, let's take a moment..."just a jumble of letters and numbers"...do I even have to say it? That paragraph was so just like Pretty Little Liars, fit to a tee. Word for word, almost. And I'm a huge fan of the PLL series, which means I would obviously geek out and catch that right away. I can honestly admit that I cringed when I read that section. I mean, seriously? Even signing it with a single letter, which was coincidentally the complete opposite of the letter A, which Sara Shepard uses. (Spoiler alert: We never find out who "Z" is.)
Aside from that, I felt like the ending of the story did give a proper closure, which I was impressed with because my biggest issue with mystery novels is when the author doesn't tell us what happens to anybody afterwards. The ending, in my opinion, just felt a little rushed. It took all of 2-3 chapters (or at least it felt like 2-3 chapters) to have the suspense, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. I had to reread that section a couple of times just because I was sit there blinking, completely confused as to how everything happened so darn fast.
All in all, Pretty Little Dead Girls was a gripping, suspenseful novel that kept me on the edge of my seat and my eyes glued to the pages because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think Lizzie Friend did a great job with her first novel, and I'm looking forward to any more that will be published soon!
So that's all I have to say about that today, but don't forget to keep in touch and follow our Twitter for more reviews, giveaways, and extra-special coverage of BookCon 2014! (Which is this Saturday--yikes! So close! ...I should probably get packing...)