Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead GirlGenre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Published: September 8th 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 170
Buy: AmazonBook Depository

The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can’t, you want to die, but you don’t. You won’t. You just are.

This is Alice.
She was taken by Ray five years ago.
She thought she knew how her story would end.
She was wrong.

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Trigger warning: This book includes graphic violence and rape scenes and deals with pedophilia.

I often start my reviews by saying, “I’m not quite sure how to review this” but when I say this about Living Dead Girl I truly mean it. This is one of the most upsetting and disturbing books I’ve ever read.

I added Living Dead Girl to my TBR on Goodreads years ago so when I found it out a local library sale for 50c I bought and read it right away. I knew nothing about this book other than the vague blurb implied an abduction and that its Goodreads reviews all talked about how creepy it was. I presumed it would follow a similar pattern to most YA books that deal with this subject and having read one of Elizabeth Scott’s other books Bloom (which was quiet terrible) I wasn’t expecting much. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The plot centers around a girl named “Alice” who was abducted by a man called Ray five years ago when she was a child. We see Alice’s day-to-day struggles having to deal with Ray’s physical and emotional abuse. Ray decides Alice is no longer young enough and sets her a task to abduct a new girl and everything spirals from there.

“Three life lessons:
1.No one will see you.
2.No one will say anything.
3.No one will save you.”

You will feel so many emotions reading this book. Even if you’re not an empathetic person it’ll be hard not to – at some stage in this book – empathise with Alice. This book will break your heart.

The thing that hit me the hardest with Living Dead Girl was how utterly realistic it was. I felt like I was reading somebody’s personal memoir. A lot of times these themes can be romanticised or used for shock value, but this book was like someone poured their heart and soul into writing about an experience they actually went through. Elizabeth Scott handled these subjects as brilliantly as someone could when dealing with such sensitive topics. I normally love dark books and it takes a lot to get to me, but boy did this book get to me. It was extremely confronting and brutal. As much as we don’t want to think about it awful things like this happen all the time and we are all blissfully oblivious and unaware. This is highlighted by the opening paragraph were we’re in the point of view of a random inhabitant of the complex where Ray and Alice are who just presumes Ray is Alice’s father and that Alice is his “ungrateful” teenage daughter.

“I don’t understand why my shell keeps living. Breathing. Why won’t it listen to me, to the little part I have that isn’t Ray, to that tiny once upon a time girl who just wants to close her eyes and never wake up again?”

Living Dead Girl is more a character study on victims and their attackers. We really get into the mind of Alice and feel everything she feels. Ray allows Alice to leave their appartment as long as she follows the rules he gives her. He threatens that he’ll kill her parents if she doesn’t listen. As a reader you may be frustrated by the amount of times Alice is able to seemingly rescue herself from the situation she’s in but doesn’t. I actually appreciated this though because I think people underestimate the power of emotional abuse and in Alice’s case it’s been amplified by Stockholm Syndrome and physical/sexual abuse. Ray has told Alice over and over again since she was a child that if she doesn’t obey him her family would die. Her believing him is heartbreakingly accurate.

One of the saddest things, besides having to witness all the trauma Alice goes through, is seeing her will and strength constantly build up and then be broken down. She’ll start feeling determined about escaping, but then of course the years of abuse she’d suffered comes back and she will shrink down and admit defeat. Or, on a more confronting sense of strength she’ll wish for death and want Ray to kill her, but then she’ll give up on that too.

“I am the living dead girl because I am too weak to die.”

It seems wrong to talk about this book in a technical sense, but despite the lack of plot the chapters are all really short and so fast paced that it’s impossible not to read this book in one sitting. The writing is poetic, but done in a way without romanticising the situation. I know some people have a problem with the abuse that Alice suffers being “too” descriptive, but someone who has experienced this thing in real life didn’t have the privilege of having them sugarcoated so why should we? I understand people’s concerns when abuse is used as a plot device and in that sense I agree, but with how realistic this book is it was definitely justified.

My review is shorter than usual because there’s nothing else I can really say without giving away the ending. This book is not an easy read. No review or anything I say will even be enough to prepare you, but if you can deal with these subject matters I can’t recommend it enough. One of the reasons this book affected me so much was because I have young siblings and the thought of this happening to them made me feel sick. Then I remembered that these thing have happened to someone’s sibling or child or friend. Just because these issues are confronting and truly awful doesn’t mean we should forget they exist or not talk about them. I appreciate Elizabeth Scott for talking about this in a way that was respectful and realistic and making 170 pages hit me harder than any other full length novel that I’ve read. There is no way I can give this book any less than 5 stars.

My Rating: ★★★★★


If you’ve read Living Deal Girl I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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18 thoughts on “Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

  1. Wow, what a book. I don’t think I’m prepared to read a novel like this right now, but I’m really glad it is well done. I’m always aprehensive when it comes to these topics, but I trust your opinion that it was handled well. Is the book completely fictional or did it draw inspiration from real life events from the author? Great review as always Lauren!

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    1. Thanks, Esther! Yeah, it was definitely really shocking. I was expecting something a lot tamer, but I’m glad the topics were handled well. I’m pretty sure it’s fictional. I don’t know all that much about Elizabeth Scott and she doesn’t seem active anymore, but I didn’t see anything on Goodreads that implied it had non-fiction elements so she must have done a ton of research.

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  2. I always love reading raw, and almost unedited thoughts of those placed in such horrendous situations. This book, however, sounds very intense, in the fact that the girl is only five and this is the only life she has known…

    I’d love to pick this book up someday, but I’ve found that after reading books similar to this, I find myself unable to think of nicer things. It takes a lot of mental preparation in my case!

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  3. I also read this book recently and reviewed it. I didn’t love it but I also didn’t hate it (but I think that’s because of the subject matter). I was frustrated and disgusted and saddened by it all but I was rooting for Alice all the way through to make the right choices despite the lack of them. What did you think about the ending? I’m glad she took the decision she took but I’m sad because we don’t know what happens next (even if it’s implied, but I don’t accept it. I’m in denial1)

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  4. That sounds PAINFULLY sad. Breaks my heart.
    When I read the title, it made me think of the song, “Living Dead Girl.” Just btw. Now I can’t get it out of my head.
    I am so glad you liked it. And I’m so sad that anyone, real or imaginary, would have to endure that kind of pain. And that you had to feel it through your empathy toward the character.

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  5. Awesome review Lauren! I very recently came across this book on Goodreads and didn’t know if I should add it or not since I had a feeling it would deeply disturb me. Looks like I wasn’t wrong either, but your review definitely convinced me to give it a try regardless! 🙂

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  6. Omg I just found out about this book and added it to my Amazon wish list TODAY. So funny that then I see a review for it. Thanks for the excellent review too, because I was not quite sure about reading it. I’m still not, but it sounds intriguing for sure.

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  7. My first thought after reading your review for this was wow. This book sounds like one of those books that is painful, shocking, and utterly truthful in a raw and uncensored type of way. I’ve always enjoyed books like that because of how thought provoking they are. I’m definitely going to have to read this for myself at some point. Great review! 😊

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  8. I haven’t heard of this book, that’s because it’s not released in ym country. But I do like your review for this book. And it seems that is definitely painful and strong read!
    Great review, Lauren! ☺

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