Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

The Girl Who Lived

Erin reviews April Henry's fast-paced thrill ride, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

The Girl Who Lived

BOOK REPORT for The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

Cover Story: Why?
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Speed of Light
Bonus Factors: Virology, Henchmen
Relationship Status: A Whirlwind Date

Cover Story: Why?

Um, is it just me, or is this cover a little too on the nose?  With stories of young girls being kidnapped and held as sex slaves for decades, I think I could do without seeing an image of a young, identity-less girl being chloroformed, you know?  Am I being too sensitive with this?  I'm interested to hear y'all's thoughts.

The Deal:

Cady does not wake up on the floor of a cabin.  Cady comes to on the floor of a cabin.  She is bruised and sore.  She's missing two fingernails, fingernails which are currently laying on a table next to a bloody pair of pliers.  And two men are arguing whether or not to kill her.  But beyond those facts, Cady knows nothing.

Escaping certain death, she hits the road in search of her identity, her past, her family and why anyone would want her dead.  But each time she tries to get help, the shadowy figures hunting her get closer.  Will Cady ever be able to figure out who she is?  Will she even live to see tomorrow?

BFF Charm: Yay

While I'm not sure I'd instantly be 100% BFF with Cady, it seems like so long since I've given away a BFF charm (it's been, like, four books, y'all!  That's a lifetime for a girl like me!) that I'll gladly give mine to Cady.  Because even though I'm not sure I'd want to chill in the caf with pre-anmesia Cady, post-amnesia Cady's a total ball buster.  Quite literally, in some cases.  She's fast, she's resourceful, and she's hella smart, so even though teaming up with her would likely get me stuffed in a dumpster, I'm in for the ride.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

On her travels, Cady meets Ty, an ex-homeless teen who gives her a free Big Mac and offers to let her stay at his apartment.  Ty is an awesome guy (how many teenaged dudes in real life offer their place to a girl with out thinking that's code for "and please remove your pants," right?) and incredibly resourceful, and I totally bought his and Cady's friendship.  That said, I didn't really feel the need for there to be a romantic angle between the two, you know?  It seemed like any swoon just served to fulfill some sort of checklist for YA books, and that sort of thing annoys the crap out of me.  I don't NEED kissing, y'all.  And if there's going to be kissing, make it organic to the story and the characters!

Talky Talk: Speed of Light

Henry DOES NOT SLOW DOWN, y'all.  I definitely zipped through this book quickly, as Cady ran into obstacle after obstacle or learned different pieces of the puzzle within a few hours.  And I do believe, for the most part, that thrillers should be fast-paced (notable exceptions include The Silence of the Lambs and other thrillers in which the bad guy is half the fun).  But this book was almost a little too fast paced, to the point where characterization suffered.  Some of the bad guys were just laughingly evil.  Once the mystery was revealed, I never got to learn exactly why the characters chose their choices - everything was just neatly wrapped up with some monologuing.  And while Ty's abusive step-dad and life on the street were briefly discussed, I really wanted to learn more about his past and invest in him as a character. 

On the whole, I'd definitely rather a thriller like this be too quick than too slow, but I can't help but wish for some Goldilocks-style Just Right.

Bonus Factor: Virology

Part of the mystery revolves around the hantavirus and its proliferation amongst western US states.  The hantavirus FREAKS ME OUT, y'all!  But guess what!  My own beloved Houston is currently beset with GIANT SNAILS who carry something called RAT LUNGWORM which WHAT?  WHY IS THAT EVEN A THING THAT EXISTS?  RAT LUNGWORM?  It's like some scientists got together and thought, "what's the scariest, shittiest thing we could possibly name this virus?  Dick Cheneyitis?  No, I know!  RAT LUNGWORM."  Anyway, the creepiest thing about the snail story is that somehow the giant snail EVADED CAPTURE.  So, basically, we're dealing with super fast mutants that are going to infect us with rat lungworm.  It was nice knowing you, world.  Please divide my collection of books amongst the poor.

Bonus Factor: Henchmen

There are definitely some actually-evil henchmen making trouble in this book!  And you guys know that one of my main Milk Carton items is "actual bad guys," so I loved that.

Casting Call:

We need an ass-kicker to play Cady.  JLaw already knows her fighting skills, on account of how Katniss is sooo great in hand-to-hand combat.

Jennifer Lawrence as Cady

Relationship Status: A Whirlwind Date

Well, book, you certainly took me on a whirl!  I thought I'd never catch my breath during our fast-paced, adventure-filled date!  But the problem is, I'm more of a thinking book's girl, you know?  Sure, you might call it laziness, but my ideal date is a long, emotional talk over hours of bourbon swilling, not a Red Bull-feuled trip to the Gravitron.  But I definitely think you'll make some girl out there very, very happy.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Macmillan.  I received neither books nor cocktails for this review (damnit!).  The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die will be available in stores on June 11, 2013.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K