Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Genre: Young Adult (apparently)
Date completed: February 23 2016
Goodreads rating: 1 stars
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
Look, I’m usually not a trigger warning person (and I still think it’s overused), but dear god do not read this book if abuse/assault/kidnapping is going to upset you, bring on anxiety/panic attacks, or set back your recovery/progress. Don’t even bother reading this review, I’ll tell you right now there is nothing redeeming, intellectual, inspirational, or educational about this book. There is nothing except horror and unpleasantness from all characters. It is not an important book. It is not a feminist or empowering book. Do yourself a favour and stay as far away from it as possible. Or, if you want to read a book on this subject pick up something like Room (which I haven’t read but have heard is incredible) or Lolita (which is confronting but also interesting/makes you think/not as graphic/beautifully written). Just don’t read this.
I downloaded Living Dead Girl during my stopover in Perth because the audiobook was just under 3 hours long and that was my flight time to Adelaide. I actually ended up listening to the last 40 minutes or so the next day, but I basically read it in one sitting (it would be very easy to do – it’s only 170 pages long).
I’d heard really good things about this book somewhere, a booktuber maybe? I have to say, I was really disappointed. Some people have given this book low ratings on Goodreads because they didn’t like the subject matter. That’s not why I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because I felt as though it didn’t deal with the subject matter in a way that was original or instructive or educational or even inspired sympathy and awareness for those in a similar position to ‘Alice’.
I’m quite interested in literature about this topic – Lolita is one of my favourite books and probably one of the books I recommend most to people. Lolita is beautifully written, disturbing and yet strangely not, you almost end up feeling sorry for Humbert Humbert, which let me tell you is a disconcerting experience.
Lolita made me think, it made me feel, and it made me uncomfortable, which is a lot more than I can say for Living Dead Girl.
Unlike Lolita, Living Dead Girl is told from the perspective of the victim, 15 year old ‘Alice’. Her narration is disjointed, which should work but for me just didn’t. I knew I should feel sorry for her, should feel outraged for what ‘Ray’ did to her and threatened to do for her family. I knew I should have sympathised with her, understood her position and how difficult it made her decisions. I knew I should have felt a lot of ways. But I just didn’t. Obviously I didn’t like Ray (I mean, how could you?), but I didn’t like Alice either. Until the last five minutes of the audiobook, I didn’t like anything about it. Instead of feeling original and intense and uncomfortable and thought provoking and chilling Living Dead Girl just felt…meh.
The only saviour was the ending. It was tragic. Alice redeemed herself, Ray got what he deserved, and Alice got her freedom. But even though it was the best part of the book, I still found it disappointing. If the book had been any longer I would have given up reading it, but because it was so short and I was so closed to being finished and I had nothing else to do on my flight I decided to push through it.
I know some people love this book and have given it great reviews on Goodreads, but give me Lolita any day.