Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List Book CoverTitle: The List, 332 pages

Author: Siobhan Vivian

Publisher: Push (Scholastic)

Release Date: April 1st, 2012

Interest: Multiple POV / Bullying

Source: ARC Received at NCTE Convention

Summary (From Goodreads): 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.

I haven’t read any other books by Siobhan Vivian, but she has been on my radar.  When I saw The List at the Scholastic booth at NCTE, I decided that was going to be my first Siobhan Vivian book.  It’s a fast read and one that kept me turning the pages, but I have mixed feelings about it.

What Worked:

  • Siobhan Vivian created some very real characters.  Danielle is one of my favorites because she really came alive on the pages.  She’s voted as the ugliest in her class and dubbed “Dan the Man.”  She’s a gifted swimmer, especially as a freshman.  She has a new boyfriend, and now that the list has been released she fears he won’t see her as beautiful anymore.  I was a swimmer in high school and worried about my body, my shoulders in particular, becoming too masculine.  This wasn’t something that Danielle worried about until the list was released because she was wrapped up in her boyfriend and hoping to make the varsity team.  Her insecurity and everything else that happened as a result of the list really resonated with me.  A few of the other characters stuck with me as well, but Danielle’s character is still on my mind.
  • Even though I think The List would have been a stronger book with fewer characters, the constant switch from character to character made this a fast read with some added mystery.  Most times one character’s section would end at a point of intrigue and then switch to the next character leaving me wanting more from that particular character.  I can see The List being a high interest and popular book in my classroom, especially since a few of my girls in class were already showing interest while I was reading it during SSR.

What Didn’t Work:

  • My biggest issue with Siobhan Vivian’s newest book is that too much was thrown into one book that takes place within a week.  We have bullying, eating disorders, self-esteem issues and more.  These are all important issues to write about, but I was left feeling like Siobhan Vivian wanted to write a book about all of these issues and couldn’t decide on just one.  I think it can be done, and I appreciate what was attempted, but it missed the mark.  Maybe if the book took place for longer than a week I would have bought into this more.  I can see how this list changed how people viewed the characters and how the characters changed because of the list, but some of it was pretty drastic.
  • Another problem I have is that there are so many stereotypes portrayed in The List.  The List features a pretty girl who isn’t very smart, the ugly “freak”, the jock, the mean girl and so on.  Honestly, we get a deeper characterization than some of these stereotypes, but the stereotypes are still present.  The List would have packed more punch with fewer or none of these stereotypes.
  • The ending. I’ve read mixed reviews about the ending of The List, many of which I’ve thought myself.  Personally, I didn’t like the ending because it leaves so many loose ends.  Others appreciate the ending because it’s not realistic to have an ending with closure when the book takes place within a week.  Without spoiling the story, I understand what those reviewers are saying because it makes sense.  My problem is that some of the characters could have had a better ending because their issues weren’t as problematic as others.  On the other hand, one or two of the characters were facing such large problems and suffered so much during the week, I didn’t believe their endings because by the end of their part of the book I had the feeling that their affliction took place over a longer period of time.

Other Reviews:

Reading Everywhere
A Blog About Nothing
Stacked

Comments

  1. Thanks for the honest review.

  2. Those are interesting points you make about the ending and possibly having too many issues. The “too many issues” reminds me a lot of Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic. I’ve been seeing so many good reviews for this but yours makes me think twice.

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