Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List
Siobhan Vivian
YA Contemporary
Published: April 2012

Image: Goodreads
The premise immediately caught my eye: every year, a list is posted at Mount Washington High featuring the prettiest and ugliest girl of each class. No one knows who creates the list, but everyone expects it, and it changes each girl for the rest of their high school existence. The concept was based on a real life incident that the author read about in a news article. She wanted to explore why girls are so cruel to each other and what those affects might look like.

The book follows all eight girls--the ugliest and prettiest for each of the four grade levels. You might assume being named prettiest isn't all that bad, but the story shows how each girl is affected and how it relates to their friends and families. The prettiest girls either don't feel pretty, or lose friends because of it. One girl is named ugliest for the fourth year in a row and determines to wear it like a badge of honor, even though she's hurting inside. A strength is that each girl has her own voice, and the chapters include a heading so you know who's story you're in for the moment. Given there are eight girls, it read a little different than if it were just about one girl dealing with the whole list. Some of them read a little cliche, and it probably came off that way since it's tough to get nuanced with eight main characters in one book. It's definitely a fascinating look at the dynamics of bullying and popularity, although I wish it had gone a bit deeper in some aspects.

The concept is engaging, and the format is different enough that I'd recommend this for teens, and definitely for those who work in schools or libraries. The cover is great and completely captures the book's essence. I read the author was involved in the photo shoot for the cover, which is really cool that they didn't just use stock photos.


  1. This actually sounds fascinating. I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, and this seems along a similar vein. Thanks for the review!

    1. I haven't yet read Thirteen Reasons Why, but I read his other book with Carolyn Mackler The Future of Us.

  2. I just picked up a copy of this book a couple weeks ago and added it my TBR list. It's interesting that the author chose to tell the story from different social perspectives, rather than just through one girl who's being bullied. I can see what you mean about the number of perspectives being a bit of a drawback though in terms of depth. Thanks for sharing this review!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.