Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Girl by Paige Harbsion

* * * 1/2

You’ve got her room. You’ve got her boyfriend. Are you walking in a dead girl’s shoes?

I’m New Girl. Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed because of her. Becca Normandy – that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy.

And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault. Except for Max Holloway – the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken, At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend … but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be, And may be she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

Paige Harbison has created a very engrossing world in New Girl. Upon her arrival at Manderly, our heroine is immediately cast as the New Girl – the less than worthy replacement for Becca Normandy. Her new roommate (and Becca’s old roommate) is immediately hostile to her. Every one on campus is either cold towards her or suspicious of her. It appears that Becca had cast such a spell over the student body of Manderly that the New Girl is instantly reviled and treated as an imposter.

I like how Harbison has the chapters weave in and out from the New Girl’s first person perspective to Becca’s third person perspective. It's done so effectively and seamlessly that it wasn’t until close to the end of the book that I realized that I didn’t even know New Girl’s name! This particular ploy is brilliant because it allows you to truly feel the lack of identity and isolation she experiences at Manderly. It’s an overwhelming feeling especially when you read of Becca’s time at Manderly and wonder how she managed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for an entire year. If anything I grew to really despise Becca – there is nothing redeeming about this very narcissistic, manipulative and vengeful girl. I was hoping for someone to take her down. It's amazing with how much I hated her, she didn't ruin the story for me. Instead her storyline only solidified my empathy and high opinion of New Girl and I rooted for her throughout.

Seriously, reading New Girl is like watching a very twisted soap opera where you’re yelling at the screen (as if the actors can hear you), wondering why on earth no one has caught on to what’s happening. It’s addictive and suspenseful. Yep if you eat up the ridiculousness that is Gossip Girl, and are a fan of Veronica Mars (my personal favorite), you’ll definitely enjoy New Girl! … Oh and I was completely caught off guard when New Girl’s name was mentioned at the end!

~ Bel

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