Author: Katie Alender
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Cover Impressions: This cover fits really well with the first in the series. The girl has a seriously intense and chilling stare and begs the reader to ask whether she is emerging from the door or protecting what is within. While her expression is dark and menacing, her outfit is sweet and child-like, presenting a wonderful contrast. The scroll work on these covers always adds a delicate detail that adds interest.
The Gist: Alexis has spent the last few months in blissful normality. That is, until her sister Kasey is released from the mental hospital and promptly finds a group of friends who are a little too perfect. Worried that Kasey may be in over her head again, Alexis and her friend, Megan, join the Sunshine Club in order to protect her. The girls quickly learn that you never get beauty, poise and a launch up the social ladder without sacrifice.
Review: Alender really knows how to write her ghosts. First the evil doll-obsessed little girl and now a spirit that feeds on the teenage obsession to be pretty and popular. The novel starts off slowly, as each girl takes small steps towards "self-improvement" but features some truly chilling moments once the girls begin to depend on supernatural influences and to forget how they survived without them (the scene with Emily in the bathroom - HOOO BOY, that freaked me out a little).
Alexis is still a fairly unlikeable character. She mistrusts her friends and is reluctant to make any gestures of compassion and friendship towards her sister (she just got out of a mental hospital - invite her to some parties and don't make her eat lunch by herself - it is not that hard!). At one point she even asks herself when she turned into "The kind of person I claimed to hate" but doesn't appear to change her behavior. This gets worse as she begins to think and act like a teenage Stepford wife. Alexis' continued flaws did, however, allow me to see things from Lydia's point of view which may or may not play out in her favor in the final book.
Though this novel is the middle book in a series, I believe it could stand fairly well on its own. It does not suffer the same flaws as many middle books - where big secrets are rarely revealed and the plot only serves to prepare for the last novel. Here we have a real clear ending to one story, and the hint of the beginning of the next which made me want to jump right into As Dead As It Gets. Which is exactly what I am going to do as soon as the sun goes down!
Age: 13 and up
Violence: Self harm with curling iron, hand to hand fighting, knifeplay
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Abuse: None
“Rule one: Don’t be friends with ghosts.”
“I felt the oddest combination of emotions – happiness and apprehension at the same time. Like my heart inflated and then ran away and hid under the bed.”
“Look on the bright side, I told myself. It might not be ghosts. Maybe it was just drugs. Or blackmail.”