Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
When Alexis’s little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.
Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey’s shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?
I don't recall a lot of very atmospheric ghost stories aimed at teens. I'm not talking Chris Priestley's books either, which are creepy and eerie and freak me out but they are aimed at younger readers. I'm not talking about the Ghostbumps books or the Point Horror books either but something older and freakier.
Bad Girls Don't Die is that book. We spend quite a while with Alexis at the beginning of the story, having the scene set, the family life explained, Kasey's peculiarities explained and showed, Alexis own weirdness explained and shown.
Once that's out of the way, Ms. Alender wastes no time in upping the creep factor and really, what is creepier than a haunted doll? As the story develops she doesn't really hold our hand - we are left asking quite often: is Alexis losing her mind? Is she going mad? This unreliability really heightens the "omg what the hell is going on" factor here. At the back of your mind you can't help but think and wonder partly what is the author playing at, making us wonder and doubt like this. But that's part of the fun and the bond we form with Alexis is so crucial.
You completely manage to suspend your disbelief and when you do that and trust the author knows what she's doing, you are rewarded with a great twist and some unexpected shenanigans.
The way she contrasts the normal Kasey and the haunted Kasey is superb and reads great. I want to see this in either graphic novel form or as a movie. I also think what helped tremendously is the house - from the description it is an eclectic building in various architectural styles which means it offers a great Gothicness to the story.
Bad Girls Don't Die is a deliciously creepy novel and one I'd recommend to readers who are in the mood for something contemporary and a bit dark with a hint of the paranormal. The resolution to the story is very clear and quite sad, really. And it's only now that I'm sitting down to write this review that I spotted that it's the first in a series, which I'm quite excited about. There's also a trailer!