It’s a little difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it, but I will try my best because it really is worth a read – I would even say it was one of the best books I have read and definitely of 2010.
It starts off bluntly by saying (and this isn’t a spoiler because it’s the very first sentence!) 'I didn’t go to Alice’s funeral', which makes the rest of the book even more gripping as you yearn to discover how Katherine, the protagonist, can say such a thing with such callousness. The story is basically split into three parts – before the death of Katherine’s sister, Katherine’s friendship with Alice and when Katherine is looking back on events – a kind of past, present and future type-thing.
The death of Katherine's sister is the mystery that drives the first half of the book along - Katherine is secretive about it, wishing to put it behind her and continue with her life; even going as far as creating a sort-of-new identity for herself and moving away as far as she is able to. It is here that she meets the charming and beautiful Alice, who draws even the reader in, though it is clear that something is not quite right with her delightful persona, and it is their friendship and nature of Alice that drives the latter half of the book to its heartbreaking climax.
The story works well as it gradually releases titbits of information, still keeping the reader in suspense until the last few pages when all is fully revealed. It’s quite a unique little book, gripping from start to finish, and deals with the dark content expertly. I really liked the realistic (if a little unlikely) plot and I think that the book was so effective because you can totally picture the characters portrayed in the novel as they and the book itself were so well written.
I think a little more detail could have been given on some events, particularly Katherine’s life before the death of her sister, but the book is still at a good length and easily devourable in several hours because believe me, you will not want to put this page-turner down.
[SYNOPSIS: So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed? Following a horrific tragedy that leaves her once perfect family devastated, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity. But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable to resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel. And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice – she doesn’t like being cast off.]