Sheesh. I'm WAY behind on reviews these days. That has never happened to me before. For the last RIP III Challenge book, I choose Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall (308 pgs, Kensington, 2008). This book was sent to me by the author for review. So, here's a big shout out of thanks to Ms. Hall!!
There are some girls that have everything. And not just the ones who are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Some girls are born with an intangible, magnetic aura: something that radiates beneath their flawless skin. You know who they are: the Cleopatras, the Marilyn Monroes. They are the present day sirens -- girls who have the power to transfix any male who comes their way. Then there are the jealous ones.
For fifteen-year-old Maddie Crane, life is a blur. Maddie should be happy. She has all the right clothes, is friends with the most popular girls in town, and is even a part of the "secret society" that everyone wants to join: The Sisters of Misery. Her mother made sure Maddie was always in the right crowds and a part of the society of Hawthorne. But Maddie has always felt like an outsider.
Then, Maddie's aunt and cousin come to live with them. Cordelia is so NOT like everyone else. She is quirky and eccentric, smart and beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that all the guys in school want to date her. And all the girls in school, especially the Sisters of Misery, hate her.
With the Gothic setting of Hawthorne, the next town over from Salem, this book has a supernatural feel to it. It is perceived by most of the town's people that Aunt Rebecca and Cousin Cordelia could be witches. They open up a flower store that sells lots of "New Age" materials. But the book itself is more about the relationships between the characters than anything supernatural.
I liked this book. And yet, I had a few problems with it. From the reviews that I've seen, the problems might be limited to me!! The Sisters of Misery are a mean, spiteful group of girls. Led by the uppity Kate Endicott, they are a group that are not only popular, but feared. Kate is just down-right evil. End of story. She is nasty to the core, and yet no one stands up to her. Peer pressure is a bitch. I agree wholeheartedly. And there is a lot of pressure on Maddie to turn her back on Cordelia. OK. Understandable. But Maddie and Cordelia become close. Almost like sisters. And yet, when times get tough, Maddie does indeed follow the crowd. She is weak.....and as you all know, that bothers me in a main character. Especially a female protagonist. Without giving away the storyline, Maddie has a chance to do the right thing, and doesn't. OK. I'm all about second chances. No one is perfect. If they were, stories would be boring!! Yet, she never does come forward in a situation that could really help Cordelia. Her weakness certainly bothered me.
And yes.....one of these days I'm going to learn to just go ahead and read the last chapter first. Maybe that way, I won't get myself sucked into a book that doesn't end!! The conclusion is anything but, and yes, it's open-ended...waiting for the sequel which is coming out in 2009. That might have been a good piece of information to have BEFORE I started the book. I don't know why I'm surprised though....this seems to be the way the pages fall these days!!
But for all that, Hall is a gifted storyteller. She has created a web of suspense that is hard to break, leaving the reader flipping pages quickly, just to find out what happens next. And her writing is really lovely. Pretty, in fact. Hall has a way of describing a scene so vividly, it's like you are actually watching it from the same room. There were a few twists and turns that really gives us more insight into the characters. Although the the story was open-ended, I was pleased that some of the threads were tied up in a way that I could live with. If this debut novel is any indication, I have a feeling we will be seeing more of this author! 4/5