Monday, June 11, 2012

Review| Vicious Little Darlings, by Katherine Easer

After her grandmother caught her having sex, Sarah Weaver has two choices: go to the college of her choice but pay for it on her own, or go to her grandmother's alma mater on her grandmothers dime. She chooses the later and finds herself at Wetherly College, and all-female school. There she meets Madison, her new roommate, and Agnes, the bizarre best friend.

Maddy is your quintessential beauty. Everyone seems to just love her. Worship her, even. There is a darker side though. Her initial quirkiness starts to take on a sinister edge. Agnes is Maddy’s best friend and bank account. Agnes is intensely loyal to Maddy, and her undying affection keeps her blind to the truth.

Sarah comes from a broken home, and all she wants is a family to call her own. She finds one in Maddy and Agnes. So enamoured she is with the new home they’ve created that she overlooks or accepts all the weird and crazy things that happen. The lies and deceptions, she rarely questions. Some of the deceit she even takes a compliment! She is very immature and irrational in this way. And as things spiral out of control, she just goes along for the ride. It’s infuriating at times. I found myself wanting her to just grow up, to just take charge of her situation.

Sarah is promiscuous. She refuses to get into relationships, citing her parents’ failed marriage. She feel love inevitably fails, that she might not even be capable or worthy of it. She has sex with Maddy’s boyfriend Sebastian on their second meeting, and with Reed on their first. With Reed, however, things are different. She feels that she can love him. She does love him, in fact...after about two meetings. Their love is that instant, shallow variety that features entirely too often in young-adult novels. It’s revolting. Reed often drops that “do you even love me” bomb typical of a unhealthy relationship. And our immature little Sarah accepts this as well.

Another bizarre element to this novel is the supernatural. All three girls believe in it and cite it frequently. Psychic intuition and gypsy readings are all taken to be real by the girls. It’s hard to tell if the reader is supposed to believe that supernatural elements are a true part of the novel’s world or just something the girls believe in. For instance, a ritual is spoken of as completely crazy, and yet a spell is used as a legitimate explanation of certain actions. The novel seems confused in this regard, like the author couldn’t decide how far into the realm of magical realism she wanted to go.

I wasn’t going to mention this initially . . . but how could I possibly leave out the deer? It’s a phenomenally absurd situation, unlikely to ever happen in the real world. Wanting to nurse a deer back to health is reasonable. Hiding one in your dorm and then at the St. Regis hotel is completely crazy. The only explanation I can come up with is that the author threw it in to show how unhinged these girls are. Yes, that has to be it.

Katherine Easer’s Vicious Little Darlings, despite its flaws, is an engaging read. Once I started, I was hooked. I wanted to see just how far these girls would go, how low they would sink. I had to know how things would resolve themselves. If you’re into young adult novels and don’t mind some absurdity, you may want to check this one out. It’s definitely a fast, fun read.

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