Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date: 31st January

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy.

And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

*blurb taken from Netgalley*

I was intrigued by this book as I loved the film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. New Girl is based upon the story of Rebecca, but has teen protagonists rather than adults. Whilst I felt this book had a creepy and spooky vibe, and I was entertained whilst reading the story, I had major problems with it which means I wouldn’t re-read it again. The heroine is the new girl moving to Manderly Academy from her public school in Florida. Her parents moved her for her last year of school because of her dream to move to a boarding school when she was younger from watching the Harry Potter films. Surprised? Me too. First off, I can think of nothing worse than moving someone in their last year of school where they were probably knee deep in classes, and most importantly, happy, to move to a boarding school because of the Harry Potter movies :S.

When the heroine moves to this new school, she is in for a rough time when she finds out her placement was available because of a missing school girl called Becca. This story is told in the two view points of Becca and the heroine. Reading Becca’s view point, I did not see how anyone at the school could like her or even stand her. It’s obvious that the Becca had mental problems, but the girl was unlikeable. And everyone at the school must have been superficial as hell to want to hang around and be with Becca, and that includes Max who is Becca’s ex-boyfriend, and the heroine’s love interest. Everyone seemed to love Becca, and they make the heroine feel as if she’s an interloper taking over Becca’s place. Especially the crazy room-mate, Dana who was best friends with Becca and is now the heroine’s room-mate. Dana pretty much makes the heroine’s life hell over the entire year school.

So the heroine gets bullied and is verbally and physically attacked by Dana, but the school doesn’t do anything about it and the heroine just lets it continue. The whole setting feels as if the kids are in their own digs, but there is no sense of school environment. The students are allowed to drink and party in the boathouse without any of the teachers knowing. And they were allowed to do that because at this rich and most prestigious boarding school, the security person has some sort of mental disability and is easily charmed by Becca to hide his knowledge of the boathouse parties (Becca was the one who started the parties on the first day she moved to the school).

The heroine meets Max at the boathouse and they develop an attraction for one another, but the heroine is constantly told that she must not be with Max because he and Becca are true loves. And it just got weirder because everyone was obsessed with Becca. The heroine is pretty damn depressed at this school, and is treated appallingly by everyone and yet she stays and says NOTHING.

The romance between Max and the heroine was pretty weak and I just felt that the whole book was poorly set up, and placing it in a boarding school simply didn’t work for me. It did have a spooky vibe to it and not because it was scary, but because of how spooky the students seem to be about Becca — especially Dana. And despite what I’ve written, I was sort of entertained by this book because I wanted to know what happened to Becca, would the heroine stand up to the others, and would the heroine’s name finally be revealed. Through out the whole book, no reference was made about the heroine’s name until the last couple of pages of the book when Max uses it. There’s also not a lot of personality in this book, and it featured quite a few characters who were unforgettable and didn’t make an impact on you. Max and Paige’s romance was lack-luster, and whilst writing this review, it’s shown me that whilst I kept on reading the book, I have mostly negatives to say rather than positives.

All in all, I give New Girl a C- for the characters of Becca and the ‘new girl’, but a D+ for the set up because it didn’t feel like a school setting, and there were poor contrivances set up for the story which I wouldn’t recommend at all.

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