Monday, March 7, 2016

Review of The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction - and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

(Summary from GoodReads)

Some people whose opinions I put pretty high trust in have read and loved The List.  It had a lot of good elements, and definitely serves well on how our society treats women even at such a young age.  While it did some things well, it also had some issues that I frankly couldn’t get past.

Eight characters was too many for this book to try to focus on.  There were interesting components to each girl’s story, but by the end of the book they all felt incomplete or oversimplified.  It almost felt like this book could have really worked if it had a bit more structure and was a little longer.

The ending of this book felt exactly like the ending of MeanGirls, and not in a “Huh, that feels reminiscent way” but in a, “WOW, this must have been really heavily influenced by that other piece of media” way.  The messages in this story about popularity, how other people see us, and how this influences us are all worthwhile and they are worth spending a lot of time thinking over.  Teenage girls are going to be thinking about these issues for the forseeable future, so I think it’s great to have some discussion of them in books. The ending read as a message that we as adult readers feel needs to get out to teenagers, and once I started feeling that way, it’s hard to tell if it’s the right fit for the story or not.

Vivian came up with a concept that requires a great deal of subtlety and nuance, and yet she fails to deliver either of those things.  The List is a book filled with a lot of great ideas that don’t feel fully formed.  I have a few of other books on my TBR pile by Siobhan Vivian and I’ll be curious as to whether or not I feel the same way when I finally read those.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Other reviews:
Bookish Lifestyle
Stacked Books
Writer of Wrongs 

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