Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
Strange things are happening at Lexi’s house. Her 13-year old sister Kasey is completely obsessed with dolls and when Kasey’s friend Mimi breaks her arm at their house, rumor is that it wasn’t an accident but that Kasey broke Mimi’s arm for messing with the dolls. Of course, Lexi doesn’t believe this rumor. Sure, Kasey’s a bit crazy about her dolls, but she’s not violent, right?
Suddenly, things begin to change. Kasey is acting stranger and stranger, talking about a decision that needs to be made by midnight, losing periods of time, obsessing over the family trees of students at her school, and – oddly enough – her blue eyes seem to be flashing green. On top of all this, Lexi is having visions of strange things happening in the past. When her father is injured in a car accident where it appears that his breaks were cut, Lexi starts to become very worried.
Oh my gosh, was this ever a creepy book! I don’t tend to get too unnerved by scary books, but “Bad Girls Don’t Die” really freaked me out; it probably didn’t help that I read it during a thunder storm, either. I think that part of the reason it was so creepy is that Lexi felt very real and relateable. She was not a one-dimensional stereotype, but a real, complicated teenager who could be confused about what was happening with the guy who likes her at the same time she’s worried about the well-being of her family.
I read almost this entire book before going to bed, after getting home at 9 pm. Of course, this was only partly because it was so engaging, it was also partly because if I’m reading/watching something freaky late at night and don’t get closure on it before going to sleep I’m setting myself up for bad dreams.
I only have one real qualm about the book and be careful reading it, because it might be sort of a spoiler. I really wasn’t clear on the possessing spirit. Was she actually a witch or something similar in life as the little girls claimed she was, or did she simply die wishing her life had been different and wanting to take revenge on the little girls who basically murdered her?
Other than that one thing I was shaky on – which may have been purposefully left up for interpretation, not simply made unclear – this was an enjoyable young adult novel. You may want to read it in the daytime, thhough.
Edit: After I originally published this review in May, Katie and I talked about the book and she told me that, according to spiritual lore, ghosts are often created during violent/stressful deaths. It was not that Sarah, the possessing spirit, was necessarily evil when alive, but she had a very stressful death and the unfinished business of enacting revenge on the girls who tormented her.
This review is part of “Debutante Ball Week” on DevourerofBooks. All this week I’m featuring reviews from the 2009 class of The Debutante Ball and spotlighting the 2010 Debs.