Publisher: Mira Ink
Release Date: 7th April 2016
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy
Other Titles by this Author: A Little Friendly Advice, Same Difference, Not That Kind of Girl, Burn for Burn, Fire with Fire, Ashes to Ashes, The Last Boy and Girl in the World
It happens every September – the list is posted all over school. Two girls are picked from each year. One is named the prettiest, one the ugliest.
The girls who aren’t picked are quickly forgotten. The girls who are become the centre of attention, and each reacts differently to the experience.
With The List, Siobhan Vivian deftly takes you into the lives of eight very different girls struggling with issues of identity, self-esteem, and the judgement of their peers. Prettiest or ugliest, once you’re on the list, you’ll never be the same.
I’ve been wanting to read The List since it was first released in the US years and years ago so I snapped it up as soon as I saw it was being published in the UK. It didn’t fully live up to expectations, but I did enjoy it.
The premise behind this novel has fascinated me for a really long time and I was hoping for a blistering look at the pressures on girls to conform in their image, personality and social activities. It didn’t even get close to that until the last 50 pages or so as everything began to unwind. I think that was partly due to the restrictions of have 8 POVs examing each 8 girls with the depth and agency they deserved. I did actually really like hearing from all 8 POVs – that many is usually too many for me - but it did mean we couldn’t go as deep as we wanted.
And yet some of the girls were much more present that others. I loved exploring the relationship between sisters Fern and Abby, Candace’s fall from Queen B, Margo’s struggle to keep her friends and Danielle’s battle with accepting the way being a varsity swimmer affected her body and the way she was seen. And then there was Bridget. My heart broke for her. I won't ruin anything about Bridget’s storyline, but it was getting into her head that finally hammered home the horrifying repercussions of being on the list, whether listed as pretty or ugly. It soon steamrollered and effected all 8 girls, causing them to each battle different pressures of being a teenage girl and all of the desires, fears and motives that come along with needing to survive that time.
No more did this make itself known than in the surprising reveal of who was behind the list. I loved the way that this turned the story around and really refocused the cruelty of the list and of high school in general, actually. Though I still can't begin to imagine how the faculty let something so awful and damaging become a tradition at the school. It’s disgusting and it just defies belief a little.
The List is a really interesting read and I read it quickly and easily, it just didn’t give me the punch in the gut I was hoping for.
Thanks to NetGalley and MiraINK for the review copy.