Book Review of Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Posted March 21, 2013 by Kara in Lyn / 22 Comments

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 19th, 2013
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Electronic ARC via Edelweiss

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Description from Goodreads: Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she’s returned home…only to find that it’s three years later and she’s sixteen-or at least that’s what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn’t know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing-and ultimately empowering-page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Review: I want to take a moment and say that Pretty Girl-13 was my 13th book of 2013.  Weird.

Woah.  This book was many things: Intense, raw, confusing, over-the-top dramatic and at times, oddly out of touch.  Pretty Girl-13 attempts to discuss the interesting and controversial topic of dissociative identity disorder. Be warned of you have triggers – this book is a very rough and draining read.

The concept behind the book was highly interesting.  If fact, if some of the minor storylines had been cut out of the plot, this book could have stood on its own, based solely on the recovery and rediscovery of Angela’s missing time as she attempts to piece together her broken memories through her other personalities.  The science behind her disorder was very interesting.  If this book had centered on the science of the mental disorder, then it would have been great.  The emotional pain really seeped through the words, and the book left me feeling very exhausted and worn down by the time I arrived at the last page.

One of the biggest issues with the book was the constant and unneeded drama and labeling.  The book was engaging just on subject matter alone without the onslaught of drama.  Some of the things in the book were necessary; I don’t want to give anything away (because going on blind into the book was a nice shock), but some of the events in the book were needed to build a background for Angie. However, the boy drama, the weird friends, and a cast of slightly clueless people surrounding Angie just weighed down the storyline.  The entire ending was just one huge gloop of shock-drama, and I ended up rolling my eyes at the absurd twist.  Angie’s friends (except for Kate – I LOVED Kate) caused me to stop and rant for a while as well.  They acted completely out of touch, and for a moment, I thought I reading another book entirely, based on their reactions.  Angie was a bit hard to relate with, due to some of her own actions and thoughts.  Here is a quote that made me nearly throw my Kindle across the room:

“It wasn’t supposed to be her job to make her dad happy. It was supposed to be the other way around.”

 Um, no. I know, she had a horrible thing happen to her.  I see that as no excuse to demand, in her head, that her father should make her happy, and that he should disregard his own emotions and cater just to her.  Angie constantly came across as selfish.  On a brighter notes, she did seem to grow towards the end when confronting one of her former best friends. I’ll give Angie points in that regard.

I also don’t appreciate the message that dark eyeliner and red lipstick equating to a “slut” label.  When are we going to get rid of this in fiction? In the media? In our society?  I find it ironic that the author took a stab at the stereotype while having Angie’s mom flit over a medical procedure because her daughter’s head might be shaved.
In the end, I’ll say that I bumped the book up a star because it did grab my attention all the way to the last page.  The psychology was also enough to keep the reader engaged.  Not a bad book, but it dropped the ball potentially by mixing in outrageous drama just to have the sake of shock value,and selling the other characters short by setting them up to be shallow, clueless, and completely unbelievable.

3/5 Dragons

22 responses to “Book Review of Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

  1. Bummer. I guess this one falls under the category of “shoulda-coulda-woulda”, like it was on the edge of awesome and took advantage of too many writing strategies. I’m still interested because I know very little about this book and I’m drawn, like you said, to the psychology of the disorder. Interesting. Maybe I’ll pick this up at some point.

  2. I liked this one but I definitely had issues with it. I found it really predictable but it was so fun that I could KIND OF overlook that. I wasn’t bothered by the labelling like most people seem to have been, but that’s just me. Fabulous review! It seems everyone liked this overall but it failed to cross over into awesome territory!

  3. Amy

    I really liked this one and I agree that going in blind is the way to go. This blurb just gives way too much away. I didn’t even really think about the labeling. I did think that she was a bit selfish, but she still is kind of stuck with her 13 year old thinking and it’s hard to think maturely at that age. Great review!!

  4. Fabulous, honest review, Lyn! I think I gave this one my equivalent of a three star, as well. I had a lot of trouble relating to the writing style, and I wanted to drop-kick Angie’s parents. Oh man, I haaaated her dad. And yeah, I despised the “slut” label – made me see read a bit!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  5. Ahhhh this book – I wanted to like it, and for part I did, but it was so inconsistent in parts that I got quite irritated several times.

    Angie’s parents really perplexed me, I felt like half the time her mother was uber over-protective and then she’d just disappear. Very odd.

    • I wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t ignore some of the blazing details about the stupid thing.

      I know, right? They were all over the place, and I felt that the huge parent twist was really unneeded. Meh.

  6. Sam

    Excessive drama really isn’t my thing most of the time, though I’m pleased to realise that this book deals with grittier topics than I first thought. Not entirely sure why (maybe it was the cover or the title), but I was expecting a little and breezy read. I’ll think I’ll pass on this for the time being, but I’m glad you liked parts of it well enough. Great review!

  7. “Pretty Girl-13 was my 13th book of 2013” Ha! I really enjoyed this one I went in knowing nothing at all about it I didn’t even know if it was a contemporary or a paranormal. I first thought it was paranormal when we first heard all the personalities talk right at the start. So year it really caught me off guard that it was this psychological contemp about a fascinating disorder. I agree it could have been more realistic in some ways, though. I also doubt the word slut will be going away anytime soon. Kids still use it as much as Bitch or any other, sadly. *shrugs*

    • I wanted to go in fresh, and I think I would have rated it lower if I had read ahead of time the description of the book.

      I wish we had more mental illness lit – I think it is such a fascinating topic, and it would help connect people to what is happening, and build some empathy for people who suffer from these illnesses.

  8. Bahahaha, omg, it is hilarious to me that the thing that really annoyed you about Angie I didn’t notice AT ALL. I’m like “OF COURSE that’s the parent’s job. They decided to have children after all.” Then again, I speak from the privileged position of being an only child who NEVER wants to have kids. So, you know, I have a different angle on it.

    I’m with Giselle on the ‘slut’ thing. It’s not admirable and I would prefer that it’s not a thing, but it doesn’t push my buttons. I totally get what you’re saying though, and it’s a great point.

  9. I definitely agree that the drama factor in this book was turned up a notch to high. The ending, especially, threw me off. I did think the discussion and exploration of DID was super fascinating though, which ended up being the major selling-point for me.

    • The ending rubbed me the wrong way. I think that was a HUGE plot hole, and I couldn’t really swallow it. I was happy that I did enjoy some of the book.

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