[Review] New Girl | Paige Harbison

Posted on 01/09/2012 in Book Review / 10 Comments

[Review] New Girl | Paige HarbisonNew Girl by Paige Harbison
Published by Harlequin Teen on 1/31/2012
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 317
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

I hadn't wanted to go, but my parents were so excited.... So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine's not the name on everyone's lips. Oh, no.


It's Becca Normandy they can't stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley—the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it's my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.


Then, there's the name on my lips—Max Holloway. Becca's ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can't. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I'm starting to like it at Manderley, I can't help but think she's out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.


Waiting to take it back.


I can’t think of a single reason to like this book and I’m surprised I finished it. The characters were flat and vapid; I found myself loathing every single one of them. The most interesting character, Dana, was so incredibly unstable, she was annoying and whiny. The new girl, whose name we don’t learn until the very end of the book, felt so inconsequential that I actually don’t remember her name now. I like strong characters, or at least characters who grow through a novel, but the new girl just complained a lot that people at Manderley didn’t like her. Grow some backbone! The other interesting character, besides Dana, was Becca, whom the new girl replaced because she had gone missing. But she was only interesting because of her circumstance and the horrifying way she conducted herself around others (we do get to find out why later). There is a love triangle in this, so if you hate them, don’t read it. Personally, I don’t mind them at all, but in New Girl, I felt that it was weak, and when there was conflict, it was put there to keep things interesting. The plot point for Rebecca would have been alright, except that it dragged out and if you’ve ever read the book that New Girl is retelling, incidentally titled Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, then you can kind of guess how New Girl is going to end. Ergo, no surprises here, folks. Bummer. No author can really avoid pop-culture references in their books, and I love them when they are done right because it helps the reader identify with the book. But the one big one in New Girl that really stood out to me was “Paint me like one of your French girls” from the movie, Titanic. The line should be “I want you to draw me like one of your French girls.” Yes, it’s a nit-picky detail, but part of a book’s value is in the details, right?  In Titanic, Jack was too poor to have any paints, therefore he used charcoal and paper.  So this really bothered me. I also had a really big problem with the filler in this story: teens were drinking and carrying on all the time on school property. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. There was tons of language about sex, blow jobs and getting drunk. I felt like it glorified this lifestyle. Hey, I’m no prude, but come on now. If you are going to include something like this in your story, at least trump it with a message for the kids reading your book. That didn’t happen here. I get it, this isn’t the bible and for god’s sake, it’s just a book, right? But what was the take-away from all that? I couldn’t figure it out. I think if the author had spent time fleshing out the characters and staying true to her genre (this is a young adult, after all), it could have gone a lot differently. I really liked the synopsis, which is why I asked to review the book. But overall, I didn’t like it and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone (I did, however, love the quote below).


Favorite Quote

If I walked out now, I’d be telling everyone they were right.  If I left now, I’d be the coward who runs scared from the ghost of a girl who haunts the halls.


Connect with Paige Harbison Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter


Purchase Links

This book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.

If you liked New Girl, check out: Putting Makeup On Dead People

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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


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10 responses to “[Review] New Girl | Paige Harbison

  1. Yeeeeeah, I get what you mean about this one. I LIKED it… but I SO didn’t love it. I thought the writing was beautiful, but hmmm… NG complained a lot… it WAS annoying.I felt she’d grown by the end, but still… and you’re so right about NG seeming inconsequential… she fellt inconsequential to HER OWN STORY, and was completely overshadowed by Becca… I think I rated it a lot higher because I really enjoyed the writing–just the prose was lovely. But it had SO. MANY. FAULTS. Max drove me nuts–so hot and cold. And I *DID* wonder about this being YA… the sex/drugs/drinking were really concerning given the genre :S

  2. Yeah, exactly! I think I would have enjoyed this novel a LOT if I wasn’t surprised with the sex and drugs (I don’t mind them at all, not even in YA titles, but this seemed to detract from the general meaning of the story – and they didn’t have much purpose IMO). NG was very bland. And the supporting characters were a bit robotic. I know it’s a new twist on an old story, and it definitely is an interesting twist. I just think it could have been done much better. She did a really good job describing the setting though. I hear her other book is really good, so even though I didn’t like this one, I’ll still read her other one.

    • I just finished it and I can’t say I agree with much actually. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it! I thought NG was strong for standing up for herself and not letting them all get to her. I mean, she’s a normal girl with feelings coming to a completely new place and THAT happens? It’s bad during normal circumstances… And of course there’s a lot of Becca taking over the story as she’s just recently gone missing and everyone starts obsessing over her and the perfect image of her they get, which a new girl now fills right after she goes missing. It’s just weird all around. As for the others being robotic, I thought them more stuck in a pattern. Waiting for Becca to come make things ‘normal’. Protecting Becca’s ‘things’ for her when she comes back. Or just feeling guilty for her disappearance, etc. and don’t wanna do anything to make it worse. I didn’t think the sex was too much either, but maybe I read more steamy books and didn’t notice. It’s more than in normal YAs, but it wasn’t detailed or a lot. It’s like what goes on with teens today and same goes for the drinking. In fact I thought they acted kinda good around the drinks based on my experience… In the now that is. We also got to see quite awful consequences from too much drinking and drugs and I know it’s something my younger sister would learn from to read about. She actually just watch a documentary about a girl in similar situations as certain characters and took in a lot from it, what can actually happen. Maybe you don’t think it had anything to do with the story which I guess I can understand, but I felt as if I was in a normal teens life these days, which to me made it fit. I thought it was really good! I loved how the characters grew through the story and I remember New Girls name as well! Can’t forget it, actually. Also, I don’t think it really was a love triangle. Definitely not in the now. Perhaps in the past, but even then it wasn’t quite a triangle as her trying to ‘play’ two boys. Okay, phew. That’s my thoughts! Sorry for the long comment, lol. But I know we all think differently about books, just wanted to state my thoughts on your points as well. It’s a good review still and I’m sorry you didn’t like it as much as I did!

      • Good thoughts on it! And I’m glad you came back to post them LOL! The book had me conflicted, it just didn’t sit right with me. I do agree that they could be stuck in a pattern rather than robotic, she really did shake them up when she came to campus and then disappeared. \nI expected it to be more eery than it was…I guess. \nI just wasn’t expecting the steaminess from a YA title, I felt that pushed the envelope a little too far. I never acted that crazy as a teen, and not because I was a perfect kid (I seriously wasn’t), but because my parents would have nailed me to a cross LOL!\nI really didn’t get the “strong” feeling from NG…she seemed very whiny to me! But, I know a lot of people like this book, especially anyone who has read Rebecca. I really am glad you liked it! I never want a book to be bad or fail.

        • Lol, I actually did find it eerie because they did all act like that! As for the alcohol, maybe it’s because I’ve seen my friends and how my sister and all those in her ages act. They sleep around constantly and we’ve even had to take a few who’ve had no where to sleep and just came in to town for drinking and doing drugs. It’s also several times a week, all weekend (some even drink on school nights and go to school hungover, reeking of alcohol) and way acts way crazier than in the book… It’s quite awful. So I bet it probably affected my view on it, thinking it was good for the teen partying compared to the reality I’ve experienced in modern times. I think it’s interesting how differently we all see books! Especially when we seem to have so very different thoughts about it. I saw NG mainly as someone who tried to understand why things were happening to her and not giving up–not seeing her as whiny! But then I know many saw Mac (Fever) like that too when I thought her a quite whiny and annoying heroine myself!

  3. This would probably infuriate me. I love Rebecca (I bought it for a friend for Christmas this year) and the set-up is an interesting way to do a YA retelling of the story. But it sounds like this was a real disappointment.

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