My Rating: 1.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: New Girl by Paige Harbison is based on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a fact I didn’t know before I requested it. Since I’ve never read the classic, I have no idea how Harbison’s adaptation compares to the original. As a standalone in and of itself though, New Girl was a book that I had several issues with.
The novel begins with the unrealistic premise of the main character (whose name isn’t revealed until the end) being shipped off to boarding school in her senior year because after falling in love with Harry Potter in Grade 8, she begged her parents to let her go to a boarding school. Though she has forgotten all about wanting to go to Manderly Academy by now, her parents for some reason still believe that their daughter is desperate to attend the school and have been applying every year on her behalf ever since.
Once at Manderly Academy, 'New Girl' is the new girl who nobody wants around because she has taken the spot of Becca, a popular girl who has gone missing. The mystery surrounding Becca’s disappearance was the only thing that I found remotely interesting about New Girl. Nobody knows what happened to Becca, but there are rumours that she may have run away, died and/or gotten pregnant. With everyone missing Becca, constantly talking about her, and wishing that she would come back; it’s not surprising that 'New Girl' soon feels envious of Becca. So, she whines a lot about not being happy being under the shadow of Becca.
Becca is actually the other narrator in New Girl; and you see things that happened last year from her perspective. I found the switches in perspective disrupted the flow of the story because they were never smooth. Anyway, getting back to Becca: Harbison excels at writing mean girls! In her debut novel Here Lies Bridget, I hated the character of Bridget. Here, Harbison tops that because I hated Becca even more! This girl has managed to charm the entire school into liking her, but is a horrible person who lies and manipulates people into doing what she wants. By the time there’s an attempt to add a little complexity to her character later in the book, it was too late for me to even feel a little pity or sympathy for her.
I was also not a fan of the love triangle situation – first between Becca and two boys, and then between those same boys and 'New Girl' – since it seemed like the sole purpose of it was to create drama. As well, I couldn’t figure out why one of the guys was willing to go along with Becca and pretend to be her boyfriend when he didn’t want to if she was already having sex with him.
Other things I disliked about New Girl were the filler parts of the story (which pretty much seemed like it consisted of teens having parties, getting drunk and/or having sex) and the attempt to add a little paranormal element to a contemporary novel that would have been just fine without it.
In the end, I kind of felt similar to one of the Manderly Academy seniors at graduation – happy to be moving on and looking forward to the future (or in my case, the next good book I’ll be reading).
Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity, and the slogan “What if nobody knew your name?” would definitely make me curious enough to check out the book.
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Harlequin Teen) for free via NetGalley.