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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

If you think you've seen what it's like to be evil in Mean Girls, then you have to read New Girl. It's got meanness warped into a whole new different level.

Title: New Girl by Paige Harbison
Pages: 320
Release Date: May 4th 2012
Published by: Mira Ink
Source: Publisher
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


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.

First, let me just say that I have not read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, so I really do not know what to expect going in this book. Paige's debut, Here Lies Bridget, has captivated me so going into her sophomore novel, I had high hopes. And I am glad that she did not disappoint. Paige Harbison's follow up novel dived into the deeper, darker depths of one's soul and emotions with New Girl. I will tell you now, dear readers that this book deals with heavy themes. The title might give you the impression that it's your ordinary, run-of-the-mill YA contemporary, but brace yourselves for what's inside. It's like an edgy, gritty, twisted version of Gossip Girl.

Let Becca and Callie explain to you how life is in Manderley Academy. Becca, the blonde, beautiful girl who became the tie that holds all the social bonds in Manderley. Fiercely strong, a rebel, someone who gets what she wants even if she had to lie and cheat and break the rules. Life is tough, however, for Callie. She's like a fish out of the water in St. Augustine, a Florida girl who's missing the sun, the beach, her friends and the life she left for the prestigious boarding school. Staying at Manderley, in the very same room where Becca lived before she went missing put a great pressure on Callie. She's not Becca, but everyone seems to think that she wants to be like her.

These two girls cannot be more different than each other. I felt so strongly for Callie because it felt like everyone wants to see her fail. The only misfortune she had was to live in the room of Becca who was still missing at that time. I have no idea how cliques work in a boarding school but to expect a person to behave the same as another? How twisted is that? What made me feel bad was that she took on all the pranks, the laughs and all the humiliation without fighting back. History looked like it was repeating when Callie was caught in the same intense and confusing love web with Max and Johnny. Max, who was the first person to see who Becca is inside, and ended up getting manipulated to get who Becca wants: Johnny, who happens to be Max's best friend.

Although no one can be considered a real friend in Manderley, there are some characters that will rouse intense emotions in you, like Dana. I hated her, Becca's room mate, with a passion. It's a wonder they established a connection based on Becca's deception. Dana had such a warped sense of trust for Becca I pity her. She was a broken person whose spirits was crushed further by someone who wanted to feel better by putting someone else down. I tried understanding Becca better but all I see is a person who is just as lonely and broken as her friend Dana, who wants to be happy so desperately she didn't know she was doing more harm than good.

It's fascinating to read how these two girl's life unraveled before their eyes, because of the parallel narration of their stories. It felt like Callie was forced to walk on the same tragic footsteps as Becca, and I wanted her to veer away from that, because we all know what happens to a girl who tries to challenge the rules and show to the world that she can get what she wants even if it kills her. Callie had better things going on for her and the whole world seems to be letting all the bad things happen to her when she doesn't deserve any of it. The book dealt with the good: friendships made and the thrill of being in love, the bad: the lies, insecurities and deception, the ugly: backstabbing, cruelty and rape. The horrors both Becca and Callie had to go through transformed them in a different way. Becca never recovered from what happened to her friend Lulu, while Callie used her experiences at Manderley to evaluate her life and make choices, however hard it may be.

What I liked about this book is how it kept me guessing to the very last page. The mystery of Becca's disappearance was a puzzle so addictive I had to devour every page to see how it will all end. Even Becca's relationship with both Max and Johnny kept me guessing what's the real score between the three of them. New Girl showed the effect one person can have on so many people, a sneak peek into the not so perfect life of the perfect girl, and that what we see in the surface, oftentimes, is not a reflection of what's inside. Becca had her own redeeming points, I'm sure, but her life spun out of control of her own doing. Callie emerged as a better person in the end, and I loved how her experiences in Manderley shaped her to be.

Shocking, but a great read over all. New Girl's dark appeal will draw readers and let them conclude for themselves how the story will feel for them. Warped but the story held a lot of truth in it. Paige Harbison's novel is a book you'll need to read when you feel like challenging yourself with reads out of your comfort zones once in a while. Very interesting and engaging, the mystery is enough to keep you occupied!

Content (plot, story flow, character):
If only the truth came out sooner. This novel is full of what-ifs and what could have been. Very entertaining indeed!
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Love this cover better than the US one!

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. This sounds like such a fascinating and engaging book!! I want to know what New Girl's name is as well x) I remember this book being all over the blogosphere a couple of months back... It sounds like a really great and scary book, especially for the New Girl. Amazing review :)

  2. WOAH, that's a brilliant review! I so badly want to read this book now! :) I am a new follower! ;)


  3. Glad to see a review of this-I'm not sure if I want to read it but my sister just read and loved Rebecca so I'm thinking about recommending it to her and then maybe reading it if she enjoys it.

  4. ooh, Gritty version of Gossip Girl, I am in! Nice Review! I really wanna check this author out. Thanks!


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