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

Dear Dead Diary

Ainslie Hogarth's The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) sports some of the scariest scares we've seen in a while.

Dear Dead Diary

BOOK REPORT for The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) by Ainslie Hogarth

Cover Story: Coffee Stains (hopefully...)
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Dear Diary
Bonus Factor/Anti-Bonus Factor: American Horror Story
Relationship Status: Never Look Back

Cover Story: Coffee Stains (hopefully...)

This cover is in keeping with the conceit that (as you’ll see in the first few pages) this is a source material transcript of an original piece of evidence being used by a Hollywood producer to shoot a movie (you follow all of that?). Basically, it’s not very eye catching or attractive...but it’s thematic. So...points for that, I guess.

The Deal:

In the first couple of pages, we discover that this is the annotated copy of a diary found in the middle of a gruesome crime scene at the infamously haunted Boy Meets Girl Inn. No spoilers here, because everything is all laid out as the director of the upcoming movie tries to clear up any legal issues: the diary belongs to Noelle, a casualty of the massacre...and, possibly, the perpetrator.

Reading the transcript of the diary, we meet Noelle - an average snarky teenager, working the graveyard shift at the Boy Meets Girl Inn. When she’s not killing time with the adorably nerdy Alf, she’s keeping a diary - but the longer she works in the creepy Inn, the worse things seems to get. First, she can’t stop picking at a sore spot on her head. Her chronically ill father, Herman, is stressing her out with his embarrassing illnesses and obsessive demands, and she keeps waking up covered in mud and blood to discover strange entries in her diary that she doesn’t remember writing. But everything’s probably fine, because ghosts aren’t real.

Terrified yet? You should be.

BFF Charm: Nay

Look, Noelle is really, really funny. She’s hilarious, and has a refreshingly snarky charm to the way she deals with her mother’s absence and her father’s obvious dependence on her. She’s also incredibly real, and I really appreciate her honesty, her gritty willingness to take a realistic look at herself. Her voice is so vibrant and relatable that she basically leaps off the page, and it takes a while to get her out of your head.

...that being said? No. Nooooooo. Girl, go see a doctor. PLEASE. And for GOD’S SAKES, GET A NEW JOB. I don’t care how epic it sounds on paper, I will never attend any party you throw at a legitimately haunted inn. NOPE. You’re cool and funny, but...no thanks.

Swoon Factor: 1

Aw, Alf has a terrible crush on Noelle. This is a bummer, because Noelle just wants to be Alf’s best friend forever. It’s super sweet, actually, and their relationship is adorable to watch as Noelle comes to trust Alf more than anyone else. But there are just too many scares (and when I say scares, I mean super gross and intense scares) for me to swoon.

Talky Talk: Dear Diary

This book is a combination epistolary (the very beginning and the very end) and diary-style entries. This allows you to get a full dose of Noelle’s voice, and to watch her slow descent into horror - or insanity. Because even though this is diary style, the progression of events reminds me a lot of The Shining. A book about “bumps in the night” can only be successfully scary if it can build up a slow sense of dread, and this book has dread to spare. The suspense and the fear mounts as Noelle slips further and further into a muddled sense of reality, and by the end of the book, you have no idea what’s really going on. It’s vivid and intense. Diary style has the advantage of giving you the sense that you’re standing right next to the protagonist, and in this case, that’s the last place I’d wanna be.

Bonus/Anti Bonus Factor: American Horror Story

Ok, I love scary stuff. I do. I pride myself of loving scary things, and I love the thrill of being spooked. So in that sense, this book SCARED THE BEJESUS out of me, and I will not be able to stop talking about it. The levels of history in the inn, the factors from her home life that are influencing Noelle’s actions, the atmosphere of inevitable doom at the hotel - it all combines to create a masterful scare, reminiscent of that great classic, The Haunting of Hill House.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I do have a threshold. I like to describe it in terms of American Horror Story seasons 1 vs 2. AHS1 is super spooky with great writing, great acting, and fantastic creativity - it constantly surprised me with new levels of scare. AHS2 is, IMHO,* waaaaaay more intense. I’m not saying the writing is better or worse - I’m just saying the kinds of scares are hard. core. Punch-you-in-the-gut scares, that you kind of can’t believe are happening on television.

I think this book hovers between levels of AHS 1 and 2. Honestly, I can’t decide which one. The writing and attention to detail remind me of 1, but the dark, dirty, deeply personal, visceral scares remind me a LOT of 2. So if that’s your thing? This book was made for you. If it’s not? Well, maybe keep an eye out for a book with less...gross, terrifying stuff.

*This is a highly scientific theory to which I have applied zero research, so take that with some grains of salt.

Relationship Status: Never Look Back

Book, you were seriously fascinating - entrancing, even, to the point where I just couldn’t walk away...even when a disembodied voice whispered in my ear that I needed to leave if I wanted to live. And that’s when I took off running. I’ll never (be able to) forget our terrifying time together.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Flux. I received neither money nor chocolate for this review, sadly. The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is available now.

Savannah Kitchens's photo About the Author: Savannah Kitchens is doing the Lord’s work spreading YA lit to the masses as the head (and only member - but who’s really counting?) of the YA department at her library near Birmingham, Alabama. When she’s not disappointing her parents, she’s bottle drinking wine and playing board games with her husband.