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Sunday, December 2, 2012

The List by Siobhan Vivian

You don't come across many books that highlight the perils of being pretty (and not-so-pretty) like this one. In The List, Siobhan Vivian dives in headfirst into the self-esteem issues present today among girls.

On the first day of homecoming week every year, an anonymous list is posted all over Mount Washington High School. This list names the prettiest and the ugliest girl in each class. The girls that make the list achieve celebrity status all around the school. The prettiest girls shoot to the top of the social ladder while the ugliest girls become mascots for everything a girl shouldn't be.

Abby is thrilled to be declared the prettiest freshman girl; however, her not-so-hot older sister isn't so happy about it.
Danielle is shocked when she's named the ugliest freshman girl, but what will her new boyfriend say about it?
Shy former-homeschooler Lauren is shoved into the spotlight when The List says she's the prettiest sophomore.
Candace can't believe she's been named the ugliest sophomore. But she's about to learn that outer beauty isn't everything...
Bridget's eating disorder grows worse when she's named the prettiest junior.
Sarah decides to go on a full-scale beauty rebellion when she's dubbed the ugliest junior.
Margo is named the prettiest senior and is now destined to be homecoming queen.
Jennifer is named the ugliest for the fourth year in a row. When the popular girls decide she doesn't deserve to be treated in this way, they rally for her to be homecoming queen. Now ex-best friends Jennifer and Margo will have to confront why they stopped being friends all those years ago...

No one knows who is behind The List, but once you're on it, your life changes forever.

This book tackles all the issues attacking girls today: peer pressure, popularity, family drama, dating, eating disorders, and lack of self-esteem. It's diverse and excessive, giving it's eight distinctive characters a different story line. It follows the eight girls through homecoming week as they navigate their new social standings now that they are on The List.

This book doesn't hold back, it goes into every facet that comes with high beauty standards being set. Bridget's eating disorder is explored well enough, but I felt that her story line didn't have a complete ending. With so many ends to tie up, the book falls a little flat in that area.

I didn't like all the characters either. I found Sarah to be repulsive and utterly detestable and hated reading the chapters that focused on her. Lauren lost her character in the end. And by the end we still aren't sure where Margo and Jennifer stand.

Even with its flaws, The List is still entertaining and intriguing. The reveal of who is behind The List was surprisingly unpredictable. And despite all, the story manages to depict peer pressure present in high school quite accurately. Sure, the book gets a little long, but it carries itself well enough not to get dull.

Detailed and bold, The List is a mostly decent fable of beauty, right down to the chilling last sentence.
3.5/5 stars

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