REVIEW: The List by Siobhan Vivian

the listEvery September The List is posted all over school. Two girls from each year are picked. One is named the prettiest while one is named the ugliest. The girls who are picked are suddenly known by the entire school and each reacts differently to the experience. This year’s victims are Danielle, Abby, Candace, Lauren, Sarah, Bridget, Jennifer and Margo and they all struggle with their new-found fame. Because whether they were named prettiest or ugliest, they’ll never be the same.

The List is set during the week leading up to the school’s Homecoming dance. On Monday morning the infamous list is posted all around school and throughout the week you seen how the eight girls try to deal with featuring on it. No one knows who has written it and as it’s a yearly tradition it’s something that must be passed down through the students so there’s a mystery element as the girls, as well as the Principal try and figure out why they were featured on the list and who wrote it in the first place. I thought it was good that the Principal was actually aware of the List and wanted to do something about it. Often in high school stories teachers are oblivious to a school-wide drama but here, Principal Colby was new to the school and did not like this so-called tradition at all.

The List is a bit of a distressing book to read. It takes everything girls fear about themselves while in high school and shines a spotlight on it. As well as self-confidence and bullying, The List features eating disorders and overly-controlling parents. There’s relationship trouble and fights between sisters, The List really packs a lot in. However, because each of the eight girls need to react to the List, all these themes aren’t really touched upon fully or don’t have a proper resolution, especially because it’s just a week of their lives. There’s some characters you’re left wondering about while others have a solid character arc, again that’s probably because there’s so many characters to follow in such a small space of time.

The List is a fairly quick contemporary read. It helps that at the beginning of the book it has a copy of the List so as you’re jumping around, following different girls you can quickly see whether they were named prettiest or ugliest. It is interesting to see how these eight girl’s lives start to intertwine because they were all featured on the List. Especially when you get to see what they think of each other and the situation they are all in. Obviously the girls who are named “prettiest” seem best off but that’s not always the case while the “ugly” girls struggle a lot and discover who their real friends are.

The List is full of female characters, some are clichés while others are more layered and some aren’t even that likable – it’s great to see such a mixture in a YA novel. It’s an interesting mix and along with a concept that I’d hate to be real, makes a gripping and quick read. 4/5.

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