book review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

| Monday, July 11, 2011
Today's Tune: Hurt (cover)

I'm going to try and sneak back into blogging on my regular schedule. Today, I'm starting with a book review. I found this book incredibly cutting. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" it, because it's not the kind of book you enjoy. It's the kind of book that gets under your skin and stays there. Here's my review. Warning: graphic content and child abuse. Just so you know.

How does one appropriately rate this book? It took me a while to decide. Ultimately, I decided to rate it (5 stars) on its quality of prose and how well it succeeded in what it set out to do.

Living Dead Girl is a visceral, brutal, emotionally difficult novel. If Scott set out to portray the emotional and mental destruction of a young victim of severe abuse, she succeeded. The prose is tightly written and sparse, and Scott incorporates a method of hurrying the internal monologue and blurring words/phrases to signify the narrator's anxiety and terror. Our protagonist, "Alice," is uneducated and severely abused, and this comes across appropriately in her vocabulary. She doesn't speak like a child, but she speaks like someone who has learned most of what they know via television. In many ways, her mindset is still very childlike (symbolic of the fact that her abuser purposely keeps her in a childlike state), but she's clearly a teenager.

I have a personal distaste for novels that use sexual violence as a superficial method of raising stakes or making their protagonists sympathetic, but I didn't find that to be the case here. Alice's mentality reflects her abuse, and although there is no shying away from abusive content in this novel, I never felt Scott was being exploitative or trying to titillate/entertain. This is a raw portrayal of the hopelessness and destructiveness of this level of abuse. The ending did leave me feeling gutted and angry, but even so, I couldn't fault Scott for going in that direction.

I'm wary about recommending this book across the board. I thought Scott's storytelling and prose were very well done, but there's no getting around the fact that this is a book portraying pedophilia, rape, and severe emotional/physical abuse. The physical abuse is described. There are no blow-by-blow accounts of the sexual abuse (no detailed description of what's occurring), but the implications leave no doubt in the reader's mind as to what Alice is being forced to do. Readers should use their own discretion when deciding whether or not this book is for them.


{ Shelley Sly } at: July 12, 2011 at 6:04 PM said...

Sounds like a powerful book. I'll have to read a bit of it and see if it's for me, but it sounds very well-written.


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