Book: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Published: Hyperion, 2009
Genre: YA/ Paranormal
Pages: 352 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon
Summary (from Goodreads): When Alexis's little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.
Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey's shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
My thoughts: Bad Girls Don't Die was one of those completely unputdownable books. It has the appeal of a classic ghost story with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Our protagonist, Alexis, is somewhat of a self-proclaimed outcast at school and is notorious for causing trouble. Her parents don't pay much attention to her and her younger sister has been acting stranger everyday. When weird, unexplainable things start happening in their big, haunted looking house, Alexis begins to suspect the paranormal.
I've always loved scaring myself with ghost stories but it's been awhile since I've read one that really got me spooked. There is almost nothing creepier to me than a doll that comes to life or a child that is possessed. A child possessed by an evil spirit living in a tattered doll hidden somewhere in a creepy old house? It's like Alender looked into my worst nightmares. Needless to say I read Bad Girls Don't Die with the lights on and was spooked by every little noise I heard. I kept thinking about the old American Girl doll I have back at home in my closet and how I was really glad it wasn't at my apartment with me because I would probably have to throw it in the trash!
The characters also had more depth than a lot of the paranormal books I've read. Alexis hung out with the goth kids at school but didn't really fit in anywhere. It was refreshing to read about such a smart main character. I also felt a connection to her because of her interest in photography. It's always nice to read a book about such a likable character. Megan, the popular cheerleader, also turned out to be so much more than just a ditzy teenager and the friendship that develops between the two of them is really interesting. Kasey seemed like a realistic 13 year old girl struggling to hold onto her childhood. Despite her sister's odd behavior, Alexis is still very protective of her, even when she discovers Kasey is not really Kasey anymore. I loved that even though they weren't the picture perfect family, there was still such a sense of family values. Alexis is one of the most level headed characters I've read about.
Bad Girls Don't Die also stood out from other paranormal young adult books because there wasn't an overwhelming amount of sex. There was the flirtatious relationship between Alexis and Carter but it felt more realistic to the way high school romances often play out. It took some time for them to get to know each other and they had their share of setbacks. I love that Alender used a minimal amount of romance and was able to focus on the paranormal aspect of the story.
There is a sequel to Bad Girls Don't Die that will be released later this year. I'm interested to see the direction Alender takes the second novel and will definitely be running out to grab it right away!
My rating: 4 stars
Also posted at The Broke and the Bookish.