Here There Be Books (BL)

I love books with great characters who go on adventures and/or solve mysteries re: invading aliens/vampires/etc. I blog about those books at Here There Be Books!


This is the BookLikes thingy for HTBB.

New Girl

New Girl - Paige Harbison This review was originally posted at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog on Jan. 6, 2012.I'd completely forgotten why I wanted to read this book by the time I actually started reading it, but as soon as I read the word "Manderley" I remembered why-- because New Girl is a reimagining of Rebecca!It's the sort of reimagining that either you love or you hate: everyone's a teenager, it's set in a high school, and the ending is almost completely different. The nameless narrator moves from sunny Florida to dreary New England to attend her dream school: Manderley, where everyone is rich and snobby and obsessed with some girl named Becca. I suppose they have a good reason to be: she disappeared back in May and no-one's heard from her since. New Girl gets the spot Becca left empty, rooming with Becca's old roommate Dana Veers and attracting attention from Becca's two old flames, Max Holloway and his best friend Johnny Parker. Drama, mystery, and heartbreak follow.Okay! So now that I've typed all that out, it does seem a bit silly. However, I actually really enjoyed it. I read the original Rebecca early in 2011, and I LOVED it. New Girl doesn't have the same sort of gothic atmosphere that Rebecca has, but it's got its own sort of thrilling and spooky scenes. I love picking out things from the original story that's been shifted a bit to fit in with the new, and the way some of those things showed up in New Girl was very clever. Still, it's basically a completely different story from Rebecca, with only the barest of bones being similar. Where Rebecca focused on the relationship between Maxim and Nameless Narrator (the 2nd Mrs. de Winter), the taint Rebecca left behind, and the way Manderley ties all of that together, New Girl focuses on NG's settling into Manderley, Becca's reasons for being the way she is (and why she did things), and the effects that those things have on the characters. It's sort of similar, but...not really. NG has some advantages over the 2nd Mrs. de Winter as a character. She's not afraid to speak out about people treating her like crap because she's not Becca. She's not afraid to be strong and stand with herself even if no-one else where. And she's even a bit fiesty when she wants to be, which is refreshing after reading about NN being all dreary and faint-y and generally a bit of a wet blanket. Max, on the other hand, suffers in comparison to Maxim. I didn't particularly like Maxim in Rebecca, but I could understand him a bit and I knew that he had actual emotions and whatnot. Max comes across as very blank to me in New Girl. I think he's supposed to be mysterious but in a romance aren't the mysterious heroes supposed to explain themselves eventually to the heroine? Max doesn't, and I'm left cold and disinterested in his and NG's romance.Becca, on the other hand, gets lots of explanation of why she's the way she is. I won't ruin it for you but I think it's a good theory, and I like that it (ironically?) humanizes the Rebecca from the original, who I think was described as someone barely human. The one thing I really hated about this book, however, was the ending. It's different from the original, and that'd be okay if it didn't also tack on two pages of unnecessary explanation of things that we should have already picked up from the rest of the book! That made me feel that either the author thought her readers were stupid and wouldn't understand stuff she'd already told them multiple times before, or that the author doesn't have confidence in her writing and thought she needed to restate things in as bald a way as possible. Or maybe the publisher forced her to add it in-- either way, that explanation plus the weird paranormal thing tacked on right after it made me really angry.Despite my problems with the ending and with Max's non-personality, I enjoyed reading New Girl. I don't think it can be directly compared with Rebecca because they're each trying to do different things (and comparing Daphne du Maurier to a (somewhat) newbie author is unfair, I think). As a reimagining of Rebecca, though, and not a retelling, I think New Girl is a fun book with a great story, mostly interesting characters, and a protagonist who you can root for.

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