Arlene's Reviews > The List

The List by Siobhan Vivian
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Jan 13, 12

bookshelves: arc, read-2012, ya-contemporary, young-adult
Recommended to Arlene by: Street Corner Booker - ARC Tour Flannery
Read from January 10 to 13, 2012

Thank you Flannery from The Readventurer for allowing me to read this ARC. :D

With trembling hands, she quickly finishes pinning the dress and puts it on…then she twists her hair up, adds a bit of lipstick. She gets ready without looking in the mirror…. She doesn’t need to see herself. She already knows. She will never be pretty...

So here’s what happens every year at Mount Washington High School. A week before Homecoming, students walk the halls in search of The List posted and scattered around the school - pinned on bulletin boards, taped to bathroom stalls, shoved in lockers, hidden in desks. This infamous List elects eight girls, two from each class, with the honor of either being The Prettiest or The Ugliest for her grade level. Sealed and embossed with MWHS’s emblem, it’s what the students of this school expect and the girls fear the most. No.no.no... it’s not a prank... it’s a tradition...

This book is both brutal and profound in several ways. I was awed at how Siobhan Vivian was able to weave this intricate story that involves some pretty harsh realities with a right amount of levity to keep me captivated but never unhinged. There were eight different girls this story follows. With Vivian’s masterful storytelling, she’s able to capture distinct voices for each so skillfully that I was never in doubt or confused at who was commanding the stage at the moment.

Leave it to Vivian to purposefully mold her own characters according to her social interpretations and not use the commonly-used stereotypes that other authors lazily fall back on. I applaud her for making the pretty cheerleader sensitive and smart, for depicting the girl-athlete as vulnerable and insecure, the smart nerd as callous and clueless, and the social outcast as deserving of her post. She made each of these girls feel real, but more importantly she makes them her own. With Vivian, you’re either going to love or despise her cast, but you have to give her credit where it’s due… she’s going to craft her characters how she interprets the world and you can’t fault her, but rather commend her for her bold characterization.

There were several reasons I rated this five stars. First being, I couldn’t stop thinking about these girls. It was daunting to see the ramifications of The List continue to compound as the story unfolds. At first consideration, you’d think that only the girls labeled as The Ugliest will suffer, right? So wrong. It was sad to see how even the girls honored with the title Prettiest had resounding effects to their sense of self. Vivian shows the reader that there are emotional consequences regardless of which side of the coin you fall. So the moral of the story was that either column you ended up on, you’re prize is either pressure or pain. These young girls are being objectified and labeled according to someone’s f%ckwit idea of what beautiful means, and my heart just broke.

Secondly, Vivian takes a very real and current issue and brings it to the forefront – insecurity. I mean look at the magazines at the checkout stand where you see models and superstars. Any normal girl will see those images and compare themselves in some small way… are my teeth white enough, is my skin flawless, how about the circumference of my arms, are they toned enough, is my hair the right style??? Am I beautiful? Do I fit the mold? The questions can go on and on, but one thing can’t be ignored - there are many girls that fight a daily battle with their reflection in the mirror. It’s no secret, it’s a harsh fact.

Lastly, throughout the story, I was constantly trying to solve the puzzle of who was responsible for this masochistic prequel to Homecoming. I had my suspects, but I was so damn surprised at who the creator of The List turned out to be. Wow! Just.. wow! I want to hug Siohbhan for her evil genius. It’s the kind of twist that has you wanting to start all over from scratch, but if you just wait a moment and ponder, you’re left with a feeling of... Oh... that makes total sense. Crafty little author she is.

Overall, this story deserves some serious attention. It proves that Siohbhan Vivian is worthy of the title “Acclaimed Author” and like her other novels, I hope she receives well earned recognition. Great job Vivian!
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Jasprit (new) - added it

Jasprit Wonderful review Arlene, I can't wait to read this one :)


message 2: by ♥Rachel♥ (new)

♥Rachel♥ Great review Arlene. This is going into my TBR. :)


Arlene @ Jasprit. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it when you read it. It was pretty powerful IMHO.

@ Rachel. Thanks!! Oh can't wait to see what you think of it. :)


message 4: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Great review, Arlene!


Arlene Thanks Amber. :)


message 6: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber I added it to my overflowing to-read list. The plot sounds so real. I look forward to reading this :)


Arlene The plot really has a lot to consider and the social pressures that girls face now-a-days. Personally, I adored Marge in the book and I loved how Vivian protrayed this cheerleader/homecoming queen nominee as someone kind, real and not superficial at all. They do exist. I know a few. :P


message 8: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Awesome review, sounds very interesting!


Arlene Thank you Lisa. I really was IMO. :)


message 10: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Okay you just piked my curiosity level here and made me want to read this. Awesome review. I look forward to reading this. :o) Did you have any idea of the slightest as to who made The List?? Or did it really just shock you when you found out?


Arlene Oh Jennifer I hope you like it. :) I had my suspicions as to who I thought made the List, but I was so so wrong. I was really surprised when it was revealed at the end. I felt like... You! You bad.bad.person YOU!! LOL If anyone guess at the beginning of the novel who it is and guesses right, I'd be really impressed. :)


message 12: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ Awesome review sweets! It doesn't sound like a Tina book, but I'm so glad you enjoyed this one:)


message 13: by Lyndsey (new) - added it

Lyndsey Beautiful review, Arlene! I think we can all relate somehow to the insecurities these girls face. I might have to add this to my TBR ;-)


Nomes Arlene, i AM SUDDENLY VERY excited for this book. love the review :)


Arlene @ Tina. Thank you so much. :)

@ Lyndsey, Thanks! Oh I'm sure most of us can relate in some small way at least. It felt read and not heavy handed at all. Very well written IMO. :)

@ Amreen. Thank you! I hope you enjoy as much as I did. :)

@ Nomes. Thanks! I hope you like it too. :D


Natalie (Natflix&Books) Great review, Arlene. I'm excited to read this!


Arlene Thank you Natalie! I hope you enjoy it. :)


Ornwara_Ami I totally agree with you that Vivian made the girls seem so REAL. She reminded me that nobody's perfect. Everyone has her own dark sides and it's our great luck to understand some parts from many kind of people we might not know in real life.

BTW, it was really a great review! I've just finished the novwl today. Reading your review for the first time just now make me feel happy about the book even more.

Rather than surprised who made the list, I want to know more how the girls become after the ending! So many questions which I really want to ask her if I could meet her oneday!

Anyway, I respect her choice to choose this kind of ending too.


Arlene Ornwara_Ami wrote: "I totally agree with you that Vivian made the girls seem so REAL. She reminded me that nobody's perfect. Everyone has her own dark sides and it's our great luck to understand some parts from many k..."

Thank you Ornwara! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book as well.

I agree completely! Vivian has a great way of making her characters feel very real!


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