Bad Girls Don't Die - Katie Alender
Alexis Warren thought her life was a typical kind of dysfunctional - her parents have marriage troubles, she's having a hard time finding her niche in high school, and her thirteen-year-old sister Kasey has a creepy doll obsession.
After a bonding session with her little sister, Alexis's life sprials from typical dysfunctional to mysteriously dangerous. Kasey's erratic and unpredicatable behaviour is starting to get seriously freaky - random eye colour changes, odd old-fashioned laguage usage, and not remembering events. And why is the house acting so glitchy too?
Alexis wants to blieve it's all in her head, but when the inexplicable events turn life-threatening, Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey; but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
In Bad Girls Don't Die, Katie Alender has spun a chilling tale. Alexis is an intriguing character - seemingly sterotypical at first, but after delving into her personality and throughout the course of the novel, she's animated, unique, and defies classification. A spunky rebel with pink hair and a flair for photography, her snarky and at times slightly sarcastic tone provides an amusing narration.
"To me, taking digital pictures is like finding something. But working with film is like making something." - Alexis Warren (Alender 88, ARC edition).
I don't know, Alexis - being one who works mainly in digital, I'd say that with post-processing and whatnot, digital photography can be making something too. ;) Alexis holds appeal, drawing in the reader with her quirky imperfections, making her all that more realistic. (That, and the fact that I've had pinkish/red hair at one point too.) In fact, I kind of wish I had the guts to go around sticking bumper stickers on the teachers' cars in the lot as well.
Overall, characterization throughout the novel was consistently beautifully done. Megan, Kasey, her parents - all hold attributes that we can all probably relate to, on some level at least. Carter is dreamy and a geniunely nice guy - the kind which [female] readers will definitely wish they knew, and [male] readers would want to be. Alender's impeccable skill in characterization definitely comes to light upon closer inspection of how her characters seem to fit the typical sterotypes at first - the cheerleader, the rebel misfits, the overachieving nice guy - but as the story progresses they come out of the woodwork and show how they transcend these flat classifications.
Personally I would have liked to see a big more sha-bam in the argument advertised in the teaser on the back of the book, a little more action in the climax, and a little more development in Carter and Alexis's relationship, but Bad Girls Don't Die manages to take on enough of a timeless quality that it's pretty much negligible.
Now, Bad Girls Don't Die - ghost story, right? Wrong. It's that, but it's also so much more. Sure, because of that paranormal aspect there are things involved that can't be avoided; but Alender has managed to put a unique spin on it through plot twists and beautiful characterization. Diction choice was well done, and credible. So what else is Bad Girls Don't Die? Well, it's definitely chockful of mystery. And this is definitely a well woven one - it keeps you guessing and tosses in red herrings - all in a setting that could very well be next-door.
With great flow, beautiful characterization and intriguing mystery, Bad Girls Don't Die is definitely an April release to be checked out. If you scare easily, unless you plan on finishing the novel in its entireity, I suggest not starting late at night. Whoosh. The book transcends classification as much as its characters transcend sterotypes - a brilliant debut for Alender.
*Bad Girls Don't Die will be released by Hyperion on April 21st, 2009.