Book Review: The Girl Who Wasn’t Dead by Samantha Boyette

I got this book as a free review copy from netgalley.com. There are spoilers in this review.

 

This book is weird. It’s billed as a YA-LGBTIQ novel, which I get – the characters are 6 months past highschool, and two of them have had a secret lesbian relationship for 6 months – but it’s also part mystery, and part crime, and part coming of age and this hodgepodge of genres means the author has thrown different themes in willy-nilly which dilutes the purpose of the book.

So Jenny wakes up in a river with her hands tied behind her back. She survives and spends 6 months hiding out and licking her wounds before she confronts the four people she assumes are responsible. These four – her best friend, her boyfriend, her secret lover and the boy who in love with the secret lover – are lured to a cabin, where Jenny and her ‘saviour’ Ally attempt to interrogate them and figure out who tried to kill Jenny.

This is where the book goes off the rails. The stories are boring as bat shit, and go over the same events sometimes word for word. It’s high school prom fluff about drinking and cheating and one kid has a massive coke addiction which I’m not sure how he funds. Basically, each kid tells their story, there’s a bit of beer-and-pizza fuelled chitchat about the the revelations (OMG, men are pigs. OMG, that person didn’t like that person. OMG, so and so was really drunk) and it turns out none of the four did it. Then Ally pulls a gun and shoots one of them in the head, tells everyone she did it and literally within 24 hours they are all at a diner saying “phew, glad most of us survived, wasn’t that weird, pass the pizza and btw, Jenny and her not-so-secret lover are openly gay now”. It’s as if Boyette wasted so much time going over and over the same four versions of prom in such detail that there was no time to develop the trauma that would occur after seeing a friend killed in front of you, so she just pretends everyone would be fine.

I found the premise of the story good, and I like the LGBTIQ elements – the backstory of Jenny exploring her sexuality as a young teen is awkward and tender and the only believable part of this novel – but it feels like the author spent way too many words on parts that aren’t important, and raced through bits that were. I wouldn’t bother unless like me you’re desperate for anything to read.

 

1/5 stars.

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