Saturday, May 25, 2013
The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
Gallery Books, 2013
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book grabbed me with its provocative title and summary, promising a dark look into life at modern high schools. Although my high school experience was not ideal, at least I was never bullied and I had some genuinely good times. I'm always a bit baffled when I see stories featuring a peek at the dark side and consequently I find myself intrigued.
Angie is our main focus: the pretty popular girl whose best friend Lizzie hooked up with her boyfriend on prom night and subsequently committed suicide. But after her death, the words "Suicide Slut" appear scrawled over her locker...in her own handwriting leading Angie to investigate further into Lizzie's life and death and attempt to claim vengeance.
I don't think this book reads much like a YA (and I feel comfortable making this claim as someone who has read hundreds of YA books in the past few years) which makes sense because its imprint is not one that typically publishes books in the YA category. And it's not because the book is dark-I've read some dark books that I definitely felt fit comfortably within YA but something about this book just felt a little different and atypical.
As for the story itself, I found it pretty uneven. I felt like the tone kept shifting. For example, in an early scene Angie is trying to gain information from an actress student she suspects, Angie assumes an old-school gumshoe investigation attitude. But at other times, it shifted to almost paranormal (which is what I thought was how the twist would unfold.) And it took on other tones too. As the book progressed, I thought it tightened though and everything started to come together.
I didn't feel much connection to the characters as you might have guessed from the fact that I didn't start off by mentioning them although I sure felt for Lizzie who got a really raw hand from life. There is also a guy named Jesse who was fun, complex, and complicated-I enjoyed getting to know him more. Angie was actually pretty awful in some sections of this book although I think I felt more indifferent to her rather than disliking her.
Overall: Not your usual YA read but it might be worth checking out if you have time in your reading schedule.
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