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Welcome To Manderley AcademyI Hadn T Wanted To Go, But My Parents Were So Excited So Here I Am, The New Girl At Manderley, A True Fish Out Of Water But Mine S Not The Name On Everyone S Lips Oh, NoIt S Becca Normandy They Can T Stop Talking About Perfect, Beautiful Becca She Went Missing At The End Of Last Year, Leaving A Spot Open At Manderley The Spot That I Got And Everyone Acts Like It S My Fault That Infallible, Beloved Becca Is Gone And Has Been Replaced By Not Perfect, Completely Fallible, Unknown MeThen, There S The Name On My Lips Max Holloway Becca S Ex The One Boy I Should Avoid, But Can T Thing Is, It Seems Like He Wants Me, Too But The Memory Of Becca Is Always Between Us And As Much As I M Starting To Like It At Manderley, I Can T Help But Think She S Out There, Somewhere, Watching Me Take Her PlaceWaiting To Take It Back Two stars A modern update of the classic Rebecca, that fails to impress.Summer is coming to a close for our protagonist New Girl Days of lying in a bikini, soaking up the sun s warm rays on Florida s sun drenched beaches will soon be replaced by the halls of high school New Girl is looking forward to her senior year, filled with friends and memories Little does she know her parents are about to surprise her, with an acceptance letter into the prestigious, boarding school, Manderley Attending a private school was a wish she envisioned when she was thirteen, while reading Harry Potter After years of rejection, New Girl has grown to love attending her public high school Not wanting to disappoint her parents, who are overjoyed at the prospect of her attending this elite school, New Girl packs her bags and heads to Manderley to start her senior year Upon her arrival, she discovers her room still decorated with the former occupant s belongings New Girl finds herself the unwanted replacement for the ambitious and popular Becca Normandy, who disappeared at the end of the previous school year Our protagonist finds herself thrust into an unwanted spotlight No matter how hard she tries, it proves impossible to separate herself from Becca s shadow She is constantly compared to Becca To make matters worse she seems to be the anonymous girl, without a name other than New Girl New Girl digs her heels in and tries to form her own identity, but the questions and rumors refuse to die She is constantly surrounded by whispers and looks, there is no where she can go to escape Becca s influence What happened to the beautiful and mysterious Becca What I Liked Having read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, I was excited to read a modern take on this classic The author does a nice job of recreating the mysterious atmosphere of Manderley, in her vision I enjoyed the presentation of the dark mystery I was drawn into the strange circumstances of Becca s disappearance and enjoyed formulating my own guesses on her fate Trying to unravel the events and clues kept me reading this book One of the most memorable aspects of Rebecca, was not revealing the protagonist s first name, the whole book she is referred to as Mrs De Winter I recall when I read this book, being frustrated with this tactic I wondered if Ms Harbinson would use the same technique Indeed she does, our protagonist is known throughout the entire novel as New Girl or me I could see how relegating the heroine to anonymity, enhanced the power that Becca held over the rest of the characters, as well as the reader I liked the switching of the narrative between New Girl in the present and Becca a year ago I appreciated being able to see inside Becca s head, so I could better understand her manipulative power and why she had such a lasting impact And The Not So Much My biggest complaint and reason for the lower rating of this book was the heavy references to teenage drinking and sex I realize that in reality, teens do engage in these activities, but this book s depiction is over the top Becca on her first day at school organizes a drunken party and gives up her virginity to a boy she just met This is just one example, the entire book is chapter after chapter of scenes involving drinking Becca s use of sex to manipulate the boys she is interested in, is disturbing What bothers me the most about this novel, is that it is marketed as a YA title In this situation this book should be read by mature readers only I would certainly not want young teenagers reading this, due to the content The author brings up two tough topics facing teenagers today, rape and drug induced rape She used these situations to clarify why two of the characters were troubled The problem for me is in both events, the girls involved did nothing to rectify the situation, they chose to run away and hide by attending Manderley Again, I understand that in real life, there often is not a positive resolution to these horrendous acts I wish the author had taken the time to address these matters in a better way Showing how the characters got help and worked through the difficulty would have made an impact As an author, you have the power to make a difference with your words, why not show teenagers who have lived through these demeaning acts, seeking help, instead of showing them running away from their troubles The characters, I can t say that I enjoyed any of them Becca is cruel, controlling and cares for no one, including herself The males, Johnny and Max are confusing, they both succumb to the temptress Becca and unwittingly become her pawns Max especially, I never had a clear picture on his true feelings for Becca The protagonist, New Girl, I liked her, but I was not pleased on the way she handled many of the situations that she faced The book drew me in with the mystery of Becca s disappearance but after awhile it was overshadowed by too much teenage drama The first half of the book is dark and engaging, while the second half languishes.I was excited to read New Girl, a current retelling of the classic Rebecca, but unfortunately this book failed to meet expectations While some of the elements work, the book was lacking and did not hold my interest Due to the mature themes involving heavy alcohol use and detailed sex scenes, I cannot recommend this book for young readers If you have not read Maurier s classic, Rebecca, I would suggest reading that instead A copy of this book was kindly provided by Harlequin Teen, courtesy of Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.Favorite Quotations The panoramic view outside the windows of the bus showed a world that wasn t mine It was chilly in early September and the trees were pine, not palm Manderley is like being stuck in an attic Dusty, cold, and you feel like you might be struck by lightning at any moment Sometimes it s just nice to get out The waves were like a million dead, gnarly hands throwing themselves onto the sand and trying to bring whatever they could back with them into the darkness I am what made him live I am his light I am his excitement I was the bells, the light, the darkness and the melody in his life Lonely, friendless, barefoot new girl, with no identity I d never felt drab in my life I was like the gray, rainy skies outside, only less threatening and full of no mystery at all They all liked her because she was unique She was a new toy they never really got to play with And now that she s gone, they just want her than ever You lived a year in my shadow but somehow you still never lost your light Originally posted on my blog This book is a retelling of Rebecca, which was my first favorite book I read it when I was 13 it was my first foray into an adult romance, and the dark, gothic feel of it set the standards, as well as opened up a whole genre of literature my young teenaged self had never experienced The rest, you could say, is history.Therefore, you can understand why Rebecca holds a most dear spot in my heart I ve read the sequels, I ve read the rewritings, and honestly, retellings don t even have to be that good, because I m hungry for anything remotely close to Rebecca This book started off so promisingly, but it failed in one way Becca is a bitch.I should clarify I liked the writing I liked the main character, who had personality in her than I in the original Rebecca ever did But the book fucked up the character of Rebecca, and that I cannot forgive.Rebecca is a woman of mystery In the original book, she was never present, but she was so present Her ghost, her memory, all of it was pervasive, because her character was so strong, so utterly fascinating So memorable, so remarkable, she evoked the strongest of emotions, good and bad, within everyone whose life she touched She is a whisper in the night, a shadow in the hall, there, but never there Rebecca s air of mystery, her seductiveness to both men and women, her elegance, her beauty, and the memory of such made her a character immemorial.The Becca in this book is a huge bitch A huge dare I say it slut The author wrote her to be a promiscuous character for the sake of slut shaming her and making her despicable, and I can t forgive that She is a Mean Girl She is a jerk She s the equivalent of Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian and with all due respect, those women hold no fascination for me.I don t hate this book I am disappointed by it. Rarely has a book has left me as confused and conflicted as New Girl When I started the first chapter, I was very, very sure I was going to hate it, but I just couldn t This book was like the little girl in the nursery rhyme when it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad it was horrid.Let s start with the good bits I think New Girl might quite possibly be my favourite retelling this year Paige Harbison got it just right the story can stand alone as a well plotted contemporary YA novel, but still manages to pay tribute to the much beloved DuMaurier classic, Rebecca Without veering too far from the original story, Harbison still manages to put her own individual stamp on things And most refreshingly, this is not a retelling of a myth about super special supernatural creatures on whose shoulders the fate of the world rests it s a story about mostly real people and interpersonal relationships and handling everyday life I really, really liked the new girl Although, unlike in Rebecca, we do find out her name eventually, Paige Harbison manages to skilfully keep the narrator s name out of the book without seeming like she was forcibly withholding it And although I have only a faint memory of Rebecca it is far from being my favourite DuMaurier I think the characterization of the new girl is infinitely stronger and likeable than the trembling, tentative second Mrs de Winter The new girl in this story isn t afraid to stand up for herself although much of her life at her new boarding school, Manderly, is lived under the shadow of the missing yet vibrantly alive presence of Becca, she is far from being a shrinking wallflower Although she has several instances of self doubt and insecurity, it is justified by her life at Manderly and the circumstances surrounding it And she does have moments of self awareness and a fair idea of her own value, which ups my respect for her by a hundred points, easy The pacing, however, was what really made this book for me It s not a super fast, action loaded story, but it moves along at just the right pace to keep you turning the pages, eager to see what comes next Harbison s writing is not perfect, but she manages to hold on to her audience, nonetheless, and her characterizations are, for the most part, interesting as all hell The story is not so much creepy as it is chilling, a train building up to a wreck with each successive page, making sure you just can t look away I also liked the dual perspective of the new girl and Becca, a seamless transition for the most part, although I do think the author could have done way, way better on the characterization of Becca.Which brings me to the reason why this was a 3 star read for me instead of a 4 star one Firstly, the book starts off on the lamest premise ever The new girl is headed off to Manderly, a prestigious boarding school in New Hampshire, leaving behind her friends and family She is not very happy about this development because, according to her, when she wasthirteen , she tried to get into Manderly, failed, and got very upset about it So unbeknownst to her, her loving parents kept trying to get her in, and four years later, when she s forgotten all about her fleeting desire to go to boarding school, her parents present her with an opportunity to finish up her senior year in a new place, far from home, away from the friends she has had her whole life, out of their overwhelming love for her.I m sorry, but I m calling bullshit.No parent in their right mind would think that a thirteen year old s desires would continue on through four years of teenagehood, especially when the narrator makes it very clear that she has forgotten all about wanting to go to Manderly Secondly, no parent in their right mind would think it a good idea to uproot their child in the last year of school, at a place where she is happy and healthy and doing well, simply to send her off far, far away from everything she s ever known, and for no pressing reason And thirdly, no teenager in her right mind would willingly and self sacrificingly accept the situation without making the least push to tell her parents that she has changed her mind and would like to stay at home until she goes off to college the next year This entire story arc was less of a plot hole and of a giant sinkhole, and coming in the first few pages, made me want to throw the book away Why would you present your readers with such a blatantly stupid, made up situation when there are a million others that would work better Maybe her dad got transferred to Saudi Arabia Maybe she still wanted to go to Manderly Maybe her boyfriend mistreated her and she wanted to get the hell away from her surroundings There are at least ten scenarios I could come up with right now that would be convincing I do understand why Harbison took the route she did The book is, in part, about finding strength and belief in yourself when you are far from familiar faces and comfortable surroundings But I still think it could have been handled better My second big problem was with the characterization of Becca We are all made very aware, from the very first page of Becca s viewpoint, that she is pretty much a sociopath She is incapable of thinking of anyone but herself, and has no compunctions about hurting other people to get what she wants She has no deep feelings towards her friends, and tends to use them mostly as pawns in her power plays But instead of letting the reader find this out gradually, Harbison bluntly hammers home the point on page 10 and then relentlessly keeps drilling it in Becca has no complexity, her personality is revealed not through her actions but through the very obvious thoughts in her head that the third person omniscient narrator tells us about Becca could have been an interesting character, complex and complicated and compelling, but in the end, she is so obviously the mentally disturbed bad guy who appears in a horribly contrived final scene to make good her sins, that she loses all colour This is one of the few times I wish I could have gotten my hands on a draft of this book before it went to the publisher with a little work, it could have gone from interesting but annoying to abso fucking lutely awesome The new girl s relationship with Max was another thing that was very hit and miss for me The reason why Max de Winter stayed with Rebecca was very clear social norms and peer pressure and status all combined to trap him in a relationship he couldn t get out of And taking the comparison to an even older book along the same lines, Edward Rochester s fascination with his first wife had a basis in her beauty and his lust for her and his ambition But here, I could see no reason why Max was sticking around Becca At no point do you ever get the feeling that he felt deeply about her He makes out with her, sure, because she is convenient, but he never feels a connection to her, or any deep desire to see her happy Why would a regular teenage boy get all tortured and emo about a girl he doesn t even like very much There is no chemistry, no sense of the dark fascination Becca supposedly asserts over people, nothing that could justify his acting the way he did And the way he keeps jerking the new girl around, and how she keeps coming back for Not cool This was possibly the part that annoyed me the most in the book, that despite the occasional flashes of rebellion and I m worth than this pep talks, the new girl never quite manages to shrug off Max and his assholish behaviour Speaking of which, I forgot to mention the hysterical, over the top Dana Veers, off her rocker and crushed by the disappearance of her friend, jealous and paranoid that the new girl is trying to take over Becca s life Dana was quite possibly the best character in the book for me, mainly because Harbison let her have her say without trying to tell the reader how they should be viewing Dana, and what motivates her frenzy All in all, this book was an interesting experience, and I do think I would recommend it to most people Unlike most of Harlequin Teen s tripe, this book actually has some substance, and like I said before, when Harbison is good, she is very, very good Definitely worth a read, and I can t wait for someone to read it and tell me what they think I m so conflicted, I could use a second opinion A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers via Net Galley. so i m not a prude or anything, but the amount of gratuitous teen sex in this book is RIDICULOUS by page 100 one of the MC s had sex about seven times or something with two different dudes and she s been in school for about, uh, three days, methinks i mean, seriously, dude holy shit i gave up on the book because of it, but ended up going back to it to skim it till the end to see what happens and i was left quite disappointed not necessarily because of how the story ended, but with the book in general.Rebecca is one of my favouritest books ever, so i guess it s only natural that this one didn t quite live up to the mark this book just doesn t seem to have the same feel as the original one i know Ms DuMaurier s prose is pretty much incomparable, but still and the characters well, in Rebecca, even when they re infuriating, they re so deep and 3D, ya know in this one some of them have depth but some of them like Max, for example were just bland as heck which is sad because the original Max Maximilian de Winter, i.e is one of my favoritest love interests ever and i justreally didn t like the Young Adult isized version of the tale so yeah.ah bloody well.