Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date of Publication: September 2009
Reading Level: 16 and older
Books in Print:
JUVENILE FICTION / General
JUVENILE FICTION / Law & Crime
KIDNAPPING – FICTION
Awards and Recognition:
2009 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
2009 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
2009 ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee
2009 Amelia Bloomer Project YA Fiction Pick
2009 NYPL Stuff for the Teen Age Selection
2008 VOYA Editor’s Choice for Teens
A 2008 ABC Best Book for Children-Teen Selection
A TeenReads.com Best Book of 2008
I’m not sure if this should go under “Awards,” but “Living Dead Girl” was listed in the ALA List of Banned Books in 2009-10 (source: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads/2010banned.pdf)
Synopsis: (from Books in Print) - Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was. When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over. Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
Comments: “Living Dead Girl” is a book that you want to put down and never read again, yet you have to keep reading until the end. The content is highly disturbing in its description of rape and abuse of a young girl – it is definitely something for older teens, but even age may not be a good enough indicator of whether a teen would be able to handle reading this book. One of my 12th grade students started to read it and said she couldn’t finish it because it was so disturbing.
As far as being a thriller, the book lives up to that description in spades. I felt compelled to keep reading to see if “Alice” would ever escape from her captor, in spite of the graphic content. Scott writes from “Alice’s” first-person POV and uses present tense (much the way “The Hunger Games” is written), so that is likely a contributing factor to the sense of urgency. This is probably the closest a writer could get in terms of getting inside the mind of a victim of kidnap and rape – understanding what goes through their minds. “Alice” even notes that the stories she sees on daytime talk TV are very much like hers. When people ask why these people couldn’t just get out of abusive situation, she tries to explain to herself (and to the reader) that there is simply nothing left of her to want to leave. She has many opportunities to run away or to call for help, but her captor has her enslaved mentally just as much as physically.
Without even looking at others’ reviews, I can already say that people will have wide and varying opinions about this book. Some will love it because of its intense, fast-paced and realistic storytelling and others will hate it because of how intense it is (not to mention the graphic content). Even my own students are split in whether they like it or not (As an aside, this was a book that was requested for purchase from the students). But it’s definitely an attention-grabbing story. I’m personally glad I read it, though I don’t know if I will ever read it again.
Up Next: "Pirates: Scourge of the Seas" by John Reeve Carpenter