The List, by Siobhan Vivian, has been on display everywhere lately. Every time I passed it, I wondered if it would be a silly book and if it would be any good. I looked into it and discovered that it was getting loads of positive reviews, so when it arrived upstairs, ready to circulate, I grabbed it despite my earlier reservations. I still wasn’t entirely sure about this book, but I gamely picked it up, knowing that it wouldn’t take me very long to read, so not much time would be wasted if I didn’t like it. I was right that it didn’t take me very long to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this high school drama about eight girls who find themselves in rather strange circumstances.
As students of Mount Washington High School, they end up being part of a tradition that goes quite far back. The eight girls feature on a list that names the prettiest girl and the ugliest girl in each grade. No one knows who creates the list, but each year, right before homecoming, it appears. The novel follows those eight young women, who all have different reactions to their sudden notoriety.
There were quite a few things I liked about this book. To start, I found Vivian did a good job of creating eight quite unique and realistic characters. She was more successful with some of the girls, and some of them got more “page time” so they felt more realistic and more fleshed out, but they were all real people. I also really liked that the focus of the book was on how those girls react to the list. While there are some male characters and there is a hint of romance, The List is more interested in looking at self-esteem among teen girls, but Vivian does it in a way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed. I never thought that the author was making points through wooden characters about how teen girls should just love themselves despite their flaws, and I appreciated that, as I’m sure teen girls would, too. We also get a glimpse of some issues of female friendship, which is always a topic that I love seeing in YA books.
Now, despite my real enjoyment of the book, there are a few flaws, mainly that some of the stories don’t feel like they get wrapped up at all. I think this one could also be seen as a positive, because as the book ended, I wanted more about those characters. The novel ends at the end of the week, and some things are up in the air, which is also realistic because not everyone gets a storyline that is nicely wrapped in a bow.
Despite those small flaws (which are not necessarily flaws, depending on your taste), I would recommend this book without a doubt. It was fun, fast and engaging. Any book that leaves me wishing for more time with the characters gets an endorsement from me!