Jo's Reviews > The List

The List by Siobhan Vivian
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's review
Mar 07, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012

So, I wanted to really, really like this book, but the ending was so abrupt that I just can't. Every year in this high school, a list comes out naming the prettiest and ugliest girls in each grade. The List deals with the fallout of this list over the next week. But is it really just over the course of one week?

Being listed as the prettiest junior encourages one girl's budding eating disorder - which is also wreaking havoc on her relationship with her younger sister. This isn't something that ends with the Homecoming Dance, which is where the book ends.

One girl is flunking her Earth Science class, but takes pride in her status as prettiest. What is going to happen to her the rest of the year? Is she going to get her act together? Realize that those sophomore boys are only talking to her because she's prettiest? Or that those sophomore boys see the words "most f***able" when the page says "prettiest"?

Another girl is physically attractive, but listed as ugliest because she's so mean. Did she learn her lesson? I can't really tell. She gets kind of sad when her friends abandon her, but does this cause her to evaluate her behavior and become better person?

A previously home-schooled girl is listed as prettiest, and it freaks her mom out, resulting in a decision to sell the house they just inherited and move. Does she talk her mom out of it? Does she persuade her mother that moving is a bad, bad idea when the decision is made so abruptly and with so little information?

Or our seniors: Does the list-writer get rid of the stamp or choose the next list-writer by passing it on? She leaves the dance before giving it to so-and-so to throw out as agreed. How does the prettiest senior deal with her friends after they shifted their allegiances to the ugliest senior? Do those friends remain allies with the ugliest senior? I don't think they do, but I can't quite tell. And how does the ugliest senior deal with going back to school after getting a brief taste of popularity, then losing the race for Homecoming Queen?

While I really appreciate the issues Vivian tried to address in this book and the conclusion she tried to reach (superficial evaluations based solely on appearance suck butt), I feel that she fell short of the mark by following the characters for only a week. These are big-deal issues, and they need more time than Vivian allowed them. I was (obviously) left with a significant number of questions. While I often appreciate endings that leave some loose ends, I don't want to be so bogged down in questions about the characters' futures that I finish the book and ask, "Where's the rest of it? What happens to all these people?"

Now, I will allow that answering most of the remaining questions about eight different characters, when your book is already 325 pages long, is a lot to ask. But this just makes me wonder if, maybe, the author should have considered writing the story differently. I can almost see this as a series of 8 (characters) or 4 (class year) books, where each book follows the characters for a semester or the whole year. I just need more. Does the anorexic get help or starve herself to death? Does Sarah change her punk style (and then perhaps go back to it when she can't stand being a drone anymore)? Does Danielle's sudden return to the varsity swim team cause tension between her and Hope? How does this experience change Margo's thoughts on college? I even want to know more about Fern, and I think it would be interesting to see her applying to colleges at the same time as Margo. (In my high school, Honors/AP track students started working on applications their junior year so they could be sent by Homecoming; regular students waited until their senior year.)

So, I'll stop babbling now and summarize my point: Good idea, bad execution. Well-written, but lacking satisfying resolutions. Having read other books by this author, I'm not totally turned off her writing, but I will avoid books with too many characters. And a final note: Another uncorrected proof someone at work got for early review, then added to the book exchange in the "lounge".
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
March 7, 2012 – Shelved
December 13, 2017 – Shelved as: 2012

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Fatema I totally agree when I finished the last page I was like where's the next chapter it was so abrupt

message 2: by Jo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jo Exactly! I mean, I can see the point Vivian was trying to make (view spoiler), but there were so many unanswered questions that it just didn't work for me.

Coreth Perez I completely agree, i'm kinda behind on reading this book since it was released like 2 years ago but there at least needs to be a second book. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EACH OF THE GIRLS!!!!????

message 4: by Jo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jo I know how you feel, Coreth. I read this just over two years ago, and I still want to know. Tell me, Siobhan Vivian! These questions plague me!

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