Emily's Reviews > Living Dead Girl

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
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Feb 07, 11

bookshelves: horror, tragedy, young-adult
Read in February, 2011

** spoiler alert ** UGH. I never had any intention of reading this book until Bitch Magazine posted a list of Feminist YA books on their website this weekend and, much to my surprise, this was on it. I questioned its place on the list, a staffer said they'd look into it, and I second guessed myself. Turns out I was right the first time: this isn't feminist at all. What's more, I'd say that this is the literary equivalent of torture porn, except worse than anything you'll actually ever see on the big screen; this book has no redeeming social value whatsoever.

(Edited a week later to add some thoughts I've better developed since discussing with librarian buddies who both love and hate this book.)

I can't deny that this book will appeal to horror-hungry teens, and as a librarian I have to give it credit for that. But frankly, it is ONLY as a genre horror novel that I can give it credit. Same way I don't want to watch Hostel, I don't want to read books like this. Clearly some people do, so however much I personally might have hated the experience of reading it, I can accept that this is a different strokes kind of thing. But I have a real problem with this book being marketed as anything other than horror. It SHOCKS me that anyone could call this a feminist work.

Does it make sense to say that the bleakness of this book makes it pointless? I just wonder, what does a teen reader, or any reader, have to hold onto at the end? Kyla is already apparently damaged beyond repair when the book begins, completely broken and tragic, but well on her way to monstrous, too: using her own sexuality to control others who she perceives as being weak; viciously mean when she has the opportunity to be; positively gleeful over the thought of freeing herself at the cost of another girl's freedom. It seems to me that with the ending she gives us, Scott lazily skirts around the possibility of recovery, of any possible empowerment or justice. And I'm not someone who thinks every book should have a happy (or even optimistic) ending, I just think that THIS book becomes pointless without one. There's no story here -- this is a completely bleak and voyeuristic snapshot of horrific abuse and NOTHING ELSE, merely something you tell little girls to scare them into submission. I think, in the end, a reader has nothing to gain from this book except for a good scare (which it certainly delivers), and I think that does discredit it, pretty much entirely, as a piece of serious literary fiction.

I will say that I thought Scott's writing was much, much better here than in the very boring and awkward Perfect You (except for the dialog, which this author cannot write at all).

But all in all I was happier person before I read this, and the world was probably a better place before it was written. Yuck. A million yucks. I want a shower.

For a better, smarter captor/captive book, try Room. For a better, smarter abuse book, try Push.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Haven't read it myself so I can't really voice an opinion, but I agree that there was some sort of misunderstanding with Bitch and the definition of feminism. I applaud you for contacting them and sharing your thoughts on the subject, it looks like it's been removed from the list now.

message 2: by Emily (last edited Feb 10, 2011 05:27AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily Thanks, Amanda. Lots of people on the Bitch blog were really up in arms about the three books that were removed, but very few people involved in that mess had read this book. I think the argument that Bitch was censoring the books by removing them from the list is completely illogical in the first place, and I wonder if so many people would have jumped to Living Dead Girl's defense if they had actually read it. Anyway, I won't tell you not to read it and decide for yourself, but I will tell you that it wiped me out for days... serious book hangover, and the worst kind.

Kaeley Scruggs I am not a librarian, and I know you probably know more about books and literature than I do. And I agree that Room and Push are a lot more intense than this book and arguably better done. But one thing I think you should consider before comparing the three is that in Room and Push, the characters had something to live for; something to keep them going. In Living Dead Girl, she had no one. I think you're correct when you say that she could be on her way to monstrosity, but I don't think you have a right to judge her. I don't think she was gleeful, I think she was more relieved. But this is after all a fictional story with fictional characters, but if this was a real person, how would you react? At the last moment she never actually gives the girl to Ray.

message 4: by Emily (last edited Aug 08, 2012 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily Jade, I appreciate what you're saying about Kyla's circumstances being different from the characters' in Room and Push. That's an interesting point -- thanks for weighing in. But I wasn't really comparing stories; I was comparing quality. In my opinion as a reader, LDG has little to offer. Room and Push are both considerably more nuanced and, to me, more interesting.

If Kyla were a real person, I'm sure I'd react to her story with sadness and horror, much like I did to her fictional story. But feeling pity for Kyla doesn't change my feelings about this book, which I legitimately get to loathe. If we're not here to judge (critique) books and stories and the characters in them and the people who make them up, I don't know what we're here to do.

Kaeley Scruggs That's true. I personally like Elizabeth Scott's writing, but that's just me. I do agree with you though, that Push and Room were more developed. I like to give her credit though because she doesn't only write about the easy stuff. I really liked Room because it was a very unique situation; it was also very well thought out. And it was interesting that the mother didn't develop Stockholm's syndrome.

I totally agree with you that we're here to judge books, that's how we learn from them.

Also, side note; thanks for demonstrating positive disagreeing skills, there's a lot of people who get very upset and angry when people disagree with them.

Emily Did you read Stolen? I thought that author handled Stockholm Syndrome in an interesting way.

I have noticed some comment lunacy around here, especially when it comes to YA. I don't expect everyone or anyone to agree with me -- I'm just here to talk about books, and I'm happy to hear thoughts other than mine. So thanks for commenting! I'm glad you did.

Kaeley Scruggs I have read Stolen, quite recently in fact. I agree, it was very interesting, and very subtle. I didn't even think of her having it until another character mentioned it; very well done and very erie.

message 8: by Rorshach (new) - added it

Rorshach Sridhar Perfect review Emily!

Muttix Onlymuttix I haven't read the two books that you recommended however, I agree that this book is lacking any redeeming quality whatsoever. In my search for a book today I came across a shelf I'd titled 'Never ever read this piece of crap' and had forgotten what I put on it. It was this book. Had the author made more to the story, perhaps my impression would have been different. However, this seemed to be soft core for pedophiles rather than a story that I'd hand to a teen. I read it as an adult nearing my 30s and let me tell you, it screwed me up for like a week. The only reason I kept reading was the hope that there was some reason this book was written beyond the author's apparent need to flush her demons. That didn't turn out to be the case. I could never recommend this book to anyone, not even if they were looking for mindless horror. There are so many other, better, books.

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