Sunday, 2 February 2014

BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.

When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
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Look at that creepy cover! Look how creepy! Honestly, I thought this book was going to disappoint me, but it didn't, I found it genuinely creepy for a portion in the middle. Sadly, once the strands of the plot started to draw together, it lost it's creep factor, but for a time I really did find it quite unsettling. As in, had-to-turn-the-lights-on-to-walk-around-my-house-at-night unsettling. Not that I just randomly walk around my house in the dark. That would just be weird.

So, basically, Alexis' annoying little sister is being possessed by a super creepy doll. Now, dolls are pretty creepy anyway, so that helps to build things. I wasn't convinced by the start, with the ball of light hovering in the garden, I could have totally lived without that part, but it soon got up to speed. 

I loved the portrayal of the family dynamic, it was utterly believable to me. They don't really talk to each other, they don't really like each other. They're just all occupying the same space and trying to get on with things without it getting more unpleasant. Alexis flinches away when her father touches her shoulder, she'd rather he just completely ignored her. It was a nice change to see parents who were around, almost constantly present, but at the same time just as absent as the usual parents you find in a young adult novel.

Alexis as a character was a bit trickier for me, though. There were aspects of her character that I liked. I loved her passion for photography. I know nothing about photography really, but I found the opening with her setting up her shots really interesting. In fact, I would have liked the photography to play a bigger part in the climax - perhaps she could have photographed Kasey during her possession and used this to prove something? Other aspects of her personality, though, I struggled with. She's vehemently against the cheerleaders, but she also can't stand the other people who vehemently hate the cheerleaders, the group she has dubbed the Doom Squad. I would have liked it if instead of interacting with these people, she just pretty much ignored them. There was no reason for her to have anything to do with the Doom Squad and it bugged me. Maybe I'm just being picky. I don't know. But the whole set-up of Alexis as an outsider didn't really work for me because she wasn't actually an outsider.

Overall, this book was pretty creepy, which is what I wanted from it. There were some aspects that I didn't get along with so well, including the convenient explanation of everything that had been happening. I think it would have worked a lot better in a small town setting, something that I didn't really get a sense of while reading. It was just a generic town, it could have been anywhere and it didn't really seem all that small, so the plot seemed kind of off to me, though I don't want to spoil it for anyone by going into why. Honestly, it's a fairly enjoyable book, though I can't see how it's spawned two sequels.



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