Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Kindle Recommendation
Favourite Quote: “Sometimes, when you get something new, you trick yourself into believing it has the power to change absolutely everything about you.”
I needed an easy read after getting too wrapped up in The Mortal Instruments. Seriously. I’ve watched the film, the series and now I’m on the second book. It’s actually a bit much if I’m honest so I’ve walked away for a book or two to chill out! This is what brought me to The List.
Every year, as a ‘school tradition’, a list is put out for the whole school to see to essentially jeopardise the girls of Mount Washington State. The pretty/ ugly list. A list that tells you who is the prettiest and the ugliest girl in the school from Freshman to Senior year. No one knows who started it or who is involved, even the teachers have grown to accept it since they can’t find the culprit, even after many years of it circulating around the school. There is nothing anyone can do about it but deal with the attention with as much dignity as possible.
The story tells the perspective of the four prettiest girls and the four ugliest girls and how they personally deal with the new unavoidable status they’ve required for the year.
Abby is surprised by her new pretty status as she’s always been in her academic sister’s shadow. Fern is intelligent and expected to exceed where Abby certainly isn’t which she is reminded regularly. Abby enjoys the new attention in school which comes to being on the list, which unfortunately distracts her even more from her studies. When she finds out that she’s failing a class and needs to inform her parents, she knows she won’t be able to go to the big homecoming dance so instead of telling them, she forges her mums signature, only to be caught by her sister.
Danielle has just spent the summer at camp where she met Andrew, a boy who spent weeks trying to get her attention. When they realise they’ll both be attending the same school at the end of the summer, their relationship continues to grow. When Danielle finds herself on the ugly list, she panics over how Andrew and his football friends will react to her new school status. As a swimmer, she needs to focus on keeping her body strong and lean, unfortunately this comes at a price when she impresses the whole team on her weight lifting in the gym. Her new nickname ‘Dan the Man’ only gets worse.
Lauren has always been homeschooled by her mother, until recently when they ran out of money and had to move into her deceased grandmothers house. Her mother, who has been so reliant on being around Lauren all the time, realises that she needs to get a job, which also means Lauren needs to go to school. Lauren doesn’t know anyone yet so she is very surprised to see her name as the prettiest sophomore on the list, which suddenly provides her with the friends she wants. The only problem is that her mother isn’t happy about how much she is enjoying school and all the friends she quickly gains. A jealously that only causes tension at home.
Candace has everything, a beautiful mum with a cool job, a large house with her own private pool, loads of best friends and is happy. So when a copy of the list appears in her locker, she is so excited until she realises it isn’t the prettiest list she’s on, it’s the ugly one. Obviously there is some sort of mistake, but when she notices that her friends don’t defend this claim against her, she beings to have her own self doubts. Why is she on the list and why have her friends suddenly ditched her for the new girl?
Bridget decided that something needed to change when she tried on a bikini at the beginning of the summer holidays. It was cute, in sale and in her size – except, it didn’t fit. At all. She saw folds of fat form in places she didn’t think possible. She looked at her mum in a different light after that, she’s quite big and the family eat so much junk food. Time to stop. So she stopped eating. By the end of the summer, Bridget easily fits into the bikini with room to spare, but it isn’t enough. When she discovers her name on the prettiest list with the words ‘What a difference a summer can make’ she knows that it was the weight loss that impressed everyone and she fights her inner demons to loose more for the homecoming dance.
Sarah is surprised to see her name on the ugly list and decides to make a point around school by writing UGLY across her forehead in permanent pen. If the students want to treat her like this, then they can do so to her face. She hates the school and everyone in it, well, everyone except Milo, her only friend who she recently slept with. Unfortunately Milo has a habit of talking about his ex-girlfriend and her advice, completely oblivious that it isn’t helping Sarah’s self confidence being labelled as the ugliest junior. She decides to take a stand against the school to prove to everyone how ugly she can be by not washing for a week.
Margo is extremely pleased to see her name on the list, it might even make Matthew notice her once and for all. It’s the first time they’ve both been single at the same time and she hopes something might come of it – like being named homecoming queen with Matthew as her king. When her best friends, Rachel and Dana begin to feel sorry for Jennifer for being labelled the ugliest girl 4 years in a row, they seem to forget the past situation between Margo and Jennifer. When Rachel and Dana rally to vote for Jennifer to be homecoming queen, Margo doesn’t know what to think or how to deal with this situation.
Jennifer opens her locker to find a copy of the list. The list that has plagued the last 3 years of her life. For the last 3 years, she has been the ugliest girl. Now she’s got another year of it to come. The first year she didn’t take it so well. She cried in the hallway in front of her locker so hard she ended up vomiting everywhere. It wasn’t pretty. So every year, students wait to see how she will react – like it’s some cruel game. This year she is going to prove to the whole school that she doesn’t care. That it doesn’t affect her anymore. So instead of getting upset, she smiles and gives everyone in the hallway a high-five. She even gets positive attention from Rachel and Dana, which she knows must bother Margo, her old best friend. Maybe this is her chance to get her friend back.
It’s an interesting take on using different perspectives on 8 different characters, however it did get a bit confusing at the beginning as it jumps to each perspective quickly. You can’t quite keep up with who’s story you’re reading and I basically forgot who was who. I had to re-read bits of it to understand who’s story I had just read which was a bit annoying.
I felt the story was lacking some details where there was so much that needed to be put in for each person. I also felt like it didn’t have much of a conclusion which was really disappointing for me. We find out who wrote the list but there was no purpose or consequence to it.
Abby just became grounded and if we’re really honest, didn’t learn a thing.
Danielle lost her boyfriend.
Lauren snuck out of her house and got drunk for the first time.
Candace was relieved that Lauren was leaving so she could get her friends back (although she did stay with Lauren instead of going to the dance so she gets points for this that no one else does).
Bridget is still starving herself.
Sarah just took a shower.
Jennifer ended up sat on her own at the dance before disappearing.
The only person who seemed to get anything out of the story was Margo when she got to dance with Matthew, but even then we don’t know if it led to anything.
It was definitely wasn’t the ending I was expecting.
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction – and the price that’s paid for them.
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.