Thursday, July 12, 2012

DNF: Lost Girls by Ann Kelley

I was pretty excited about this book the first time I heard about it, which I think was on one of The Book Smuggler's Radar posts. It sounded custom written for me after all...a Lord of the Flies story but with girls!

When I started reading it, however, I realized that just because everything about this book seemed like it should be perfect, it wasn't.

For one thing, the writing was pretty straightforward, delivering the action without cultivating a feeling of suspense or an empathy for the characters. After they shipwreck for example, and one of the girls dies, the narrator is like, and then she was dead and we were upset. Okay it isn't exactly like that, but it sure felt like it! And the dead girl had a sister, but everything feels very factual from the perspective of the narrator or...I don't know, like I didn't know why I should care. There's no suspense or mounting feeling of dread. And 100 pages into this ~300 page book I needed that.

And then there was the issue of their guardian. At first I thought it was kind of cool that they had this younger woman going along with them, but she's bad news right from the start. She drinks up all the alcohol she has with her in like a matter of days and it turns out she's a mistress to one of the girls fathers. So, like, I don't know I felt like the fact that their guardian was being presented from the get-go with a morally corrupt center undermined what I feel like are some of the basic ideas a "Lord of the Flies for girls" should be exploring. Would they be in the same situation if the mother had really gone along or if their guardian was a real and true girl-scout?

But...and here's where I throw in a slightly relevant personal experience, I went on a missions trip when I was in college. It was an extended one over 8 weeks. Our group leader was unusually chosen, she was younger than normal and not trained in the field. (i.e. not a missionary) but she spoke the language fluently. Coming from my bubble of Christian college, she was a little rough around the edges to me. (I loved her, though, so much!) Anyway, everything went really well for awhile, but we had some tough times in the group, we had a teammate who had serious emotional issues none of us were equipped to handle. By the end of the trip, we were all ready to say goodbye to each other and go home. And I watched our leader end up being quite sarcastic in our debriefing and ready to just be done with us, goofing off with the other more cynical kids from other teams.

For some reason, Lost Girls called this to mind, because that's what sort of happens, their guardian ends up teaming up so to say with a certain group of the girls that don't do the work, but spend their time sunbathing, etc. and abandons her responsibility. Anyway that's what happens in the first 100 pages or so.

This book isn't terrible, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my hopes, and I found myself uninterested in continuing. Life is too short to read stuff you don't want to you know? But you should give it a go if you like, perhaps you will feel differently than I do.

I do thank Little, Brown for providing me with a review copy.


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