Saturday, August 28, 2010

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

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.

Wow. Just wow. Reading this novel was truly a heart-wrenching experience. If you need more convincing on that point, how's about I tell you that it took me three weeks to read this book?

And this isn't because it was mind-numbingly boring, nor were there any slips in the writing (more on this later). It was simply because the story tore into me so much that, at one point, even though I was only 50 pages away from the end I just had to stop.

I didn't pick up the book until two weeks later, when I thought I would be able to handle it.

This was an uncharacteristic move on my part. Living Dead Girl, at that point, couldn't have me flipping the pages fast enough. The writing is stark in that it simply cuts through you kind of way, and the way Elizabeth Scott paints pictures and scenes without resorting to overly descriptive or gruesome language is remarkable.

Again, it just slices through you. The emotions are presented to you right there with no pretense. The narrative flows with brutal elegance. And with the way it was written, it could easily have been a novel in verse; it was broken poetry, pieced together in a fragile, sharp fashion.

Our protagonist, Alice, was human. She evolved. She made you feel. Her character was painted so frankly, with skill; she didn't ask you to like her, she had her faults. Just read it; you'll know what I mean.

And the antagonist, Ray, was a terror. He gave me the chills, he was that horrifying.

I just thought that maybe the other characters should have been a bit more developed. But really, that's just a minor quibble compared to how much I liked the book.

Reading Living Dead Girl was one of those dark, visceral experiences that I'll never forget. Even after two weeks of staying away from the story, I couldn't let go. Every scene had been branded into my mind and no matter how hard I tried to distract myself, there it stayed at the back of my head. It's shocking, it's harrowing and it's important. It must be read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Note: Due to some graphic content, I'd recommend this book for the older end of the YA spectrum: ages 15 and up.