We were eagerly anticipating diving into “The List” by Siobhan Vivian, a contemporary novel that promised to explore the perspectives of eight different characters. With Siobhan Vivian’s previous work on the Burn For Burn trilogy, our hopes were high. However, while the book had its moments, it ultimately fell short of our expectations.
Multiple Perspectives: A Double-Edged Sword
Dealing with multiple perspectives can be tricky. On one hand, it allows for a nuanced exploration of characters, but on the other hand, it risks leaving some storylines underdeveloped. Unfortunately, “The List” suffered from the latter. While the characters themselves were not underdeveloped, their individual storylines often came to an abrupt end, leaving many conflicts unresolved. We found ourselves yearning for that satisfying resolution that never quite arrived.
Unveiling “The List”
At the heart of the story lies a high school tradition: an annual ranking called “The List” that designates one girl as the prettiest and another as the ugliest in each grade, a week before Homecoming. This list sets the stage for the intertwined narratives of the girls involved, creating a sense of anticipation as we follow their journeys. Alongside the main plot, there is a compelling sub-plot that revolves around the mystery of who wrote “The List.”
The Girls on “The List”
Each character brings a unique perspective and set of challenges to the story. Danielle, labeled “Dan the Man,” struggles with societal expectations and her own desire to prove herself. Abby, driven by jealousy and pride, becomes a central figure despite being the least favorite character among readers. Candace, rejected by her friends after an unexpected ranking, grapples with issues of self-worth. Lauren, sheltered by an overprotective mother, embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Sarah rebels against society’s expectations by rejecting personal hygiene. Bridgit battles with body image and an eating disorder. Jennifer endures years of torment but decides to embrace her own identity. And Margo, a victim of the list, faces accusations and suspicions.
Female Friendship and High School Realities
While the book attempts to comment on the way girls view each other and the meaninglessness of popularity, it falls somewhat flat. The portrayal of high school life lacks the strong female friendships one might expect, as fair-weather friends and cattiness cloud trust and authenticity. The overall interpretation of high school life painted by “The List” is not particularly pleasant.
A Lack of Closure
By the end of the book, we found ourselves with unanswered questions and a sense of unfulfilled closure. The story could have benefited from a more focused approach, perhaps as a mini-series exploring each year group separately. The abundance of characters in a single book made certain events feel repetitive and, at times, tedious. While the concept of “The List” reflects the labels prevalent in high school, the lack of closure and resolution left us wanting more.
Verdict: “The List” by Siobhan Vivian receives a rating of 2 stars, falling short of our expectations. While it showcases diverse perspectives and tackles important themes, it ultimately fails to provide the satisfying resolution readers crave.
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