Mar 16, 2012

New Girl, by Paige Harbison

Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Overall: 3,5 out of 5 Stars
Categories: Drama, Romance, Retelling
Goodreads Page
Read in March 2012 
A contemporary young-adult retelling inspired by the classic 1938 romantic suspense bestseller Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.
My Opinion:

It took me a while to get into this story. Normally I don't go for contemporary, but I'd read that this had a supernatural twist, so I decided to give it a go.

The first half of the book narrates the New Girl's life in Manderley, the boarding school her parents send her to. That's the school she wanted to go as a little girl, not now that she's a senior and has all of her friends in Florida. But she goes anyway, because she doesn't want to disappoint her parents. 

I loved that the book had two POVs: Becca's and the New Girl (BTW, we don't learn her name until the final chapter, if I remember correctly. When I read her name, I was like, what, this is your name?, and started looking for it in past chapters. Very well played, Ms. Harbison!). Becca's chapters would be in the 3rd person and NG's in the 1st. With Becca's we got to learn more about the why behind her disappearance. 

I only wish the first part of the book would have been faster-paced (yes, I like inventing terms, if they don't already exist). That's the part where you have to engage your reader. I felt like I was constantly reading a new girl's whines about how much she missed her family and home, and why everyone at school compared her to Becca. Becca's chapters, however, were completely engaging. She was a very cool character to read. 

The boys from this book were appealing, and their story with Becca really showed us who they were. I started feeling sorry for them, for how Becca had treated them. Max and Johnny were good characters. Max definitely captured my heart along with NG's!

This school fed on gossip and rumours, and the NG got to be the centre of attention from the start. I liked how her character evolved towards the end, and how the mystery around Becca was finally solved. 

So, my only critique would be: the book should have been more engaging in the beginning, like it is in the end. We can forget about the NG's whines, because they show her character, and she does change in the end. The end of the book definitely makes up for the slow parts.  

I'm giving it 3,5 stars based on my personal enjoyment. 
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