pub date: January 31, 2012
appeals: boarding school, mystery
content: a lot of swearing (including the f-bomb many times), a lot of sex, a lot of underage drinking
I am a fan of the book Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, the original novel of which New Girl is based on. It's a great mystery with interesting characters. I also enjoyed Harbison's first book, Here Lies Bridget. So I was excited to read this one.
However, I have some real issues with New Girl, most of them adding up to me not enjoying the book so much. Or really, at all.
Slight spoilers follow. You've been warned.
The plot followed New Girl, or NG, (like in the book Rebecca, we don't find out the narrator's name--which I thought was rather cool), as she attends Manderly boarding school her senior year. She is taking the place of Becca, a student who disappeared at the end of the previous year. Everyone at Manderly loves Becca, especially Becca's former roommate Dana, who is now NG's roommate. Which makes life difficult. Even more difficult is that NG has a major crush on Max, Becca's former boyfriend.
What I thought was interesting in Harbison's retelling of Rebecca, is that not only do we get the story from NG's point of view, but we get flashbacks to the previous year from Becca's point of view. Cool.
My main complaint about this book is Max. He is not a likable person. He's an idiot. The very first night he meets Becca (in the flashback from Becca's POV), they have sex on the beach. And then again a few days later. He doesn't want to date Becca, he just wants to continue to sleep with her. They only start dating "officially" when Becca says she won't sleep with him again unless they do so. Max says, "okay, we can be a couple as long as you keep sleeping with me." What a sleazy idiot!
We're not supposed to like Becca, but I think I'm supposed to like Max. Because a year later when NG shows up, he supposedly likes her for real, for more than just sex, but I kind of hated him. Sadly, NG didn't feel the same way. She really, really liked him. Though I can't really understand why. Their relationship was never developed.
During whole book I wanted NG to run away from Max. Far, far away. And sure, he was manipulated by Becca, but I never felt any pity for him or thought, "poor Max. What a tough situation he's in." He got himself into his own mess by being a sleazy idiot. And though he likes NG for real (supposedly), he won't "officially" start dating her (just sleep with her) because it's all just too complicated. Not only is he sleazy, he's a Wimp, with a capital W. And he really had no personality that I could see. Beyond being a sleazy wimp idiot, of course. From now on I'll just refer to him as SWI. Okay?
So, that was my main complaint. SWI, also known as Max.
But there was more. I felt like Harbison spent more time in recreating the plot line of the original Rebecca then in actually developing an interesting and believable story. I thought the plot moved rather slow. So many times NG confronts SWI and yet nothing progresses between them. They keep kissing, but then ignoring each other, and then confronting each other, then kissing, then ignoring. In circles, again and again. Frustrating, to say the least. I felt like Harbison was just treading time until the year was up and something could actually happen.
Also, there were events that happened that were so out of the blue--there was no build up, no explanation. It just was. Urg!
SWI wasn't the only character I didn't like. Actually...I didn't like any of them. Dana, the crazy roommate, was the most entertaining, but most every one else was drab and boring. The relationships weren't developed--especially between NG and SWI.
After reading through all of that (and I did finish it--I couldn't stop even though I was so disgusted) the ending was rather...dumb. No twist. No intrigue. Very Disappointing.
So yeah, I didn't like the book so much. My suggestion is to read the original. It's so much better.
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.