Saturday, 8 March 2014

ARC Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Author: Jennifer Mathieu 
Pages: 199 pages
Publisher: Macmillian Teen Books
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Received From: Publisher
Status: Standalone

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book! And congratulations to Jennifer Mathieu on her debut book!

The Truth About Alice is about a girl named Alice Franklin who goes to a party one night, and becomes the town slut the next morning after "allegedly" sleeping with two guys in one night. This for Alice get even worse when one of the guys she slept with, football star Brandon, dies in a car accident and his survivor and best friend, Josh, pins the death on her. This automatically sentences her to the life of a town pariah in a matter of weeks.

The story is told in alternating perspectives- Elaine, the popular girl who threw the party; Josh, the survivor of the car accident and the guy that (unintentionally) sentences Alice's life to a living hell; Kelsie, her former, desperate best friend with a dark past that drops her (aka abandons her); and Kurt, the super, smart kid that no one cares about. And of course, there's Alice telling her side of the story too at the end of the novel.

I can tell you the one big thing I didn't like about this book was the fact that it was WAAAAAY too short. The book stopped at 199 pages. It was a great concept done by the author, but I had a problem with the length and some of the POVs.

I'll be honest with you: I've been in Alice's position before (but It wasn't for being a slut or anything that disgusting). I've seen the way a whole grade can turn on you. I didn't have a slut stall, but I've had things stolen and written about me online. I had a Brandon and an Elaine who made my life miserable because they knew they could do it and no one have a crap. But I've also been a Kelsie, a girl who conformed to be like everyone else. So I've been on both sides of the battle field: the bullied and the bully, and this book was just like having my life laid out in a nutshell.

The drama about Alice I felt was perfect, and I liked to see how it affected everyone's life. It was just the way that it was told that bothered me sometimes. Other than Kurt and Elaine whom I thought told their story decently (more on that later), I felt like Josh and Elaine didn't give it enough justice. And then there was the ending.

Kurt and Kelsie play huge roles in Alice's social fall out: Kurt is the nerd with the huge crush, and surprisingly (to himself, Alice and 98% of the population of Healy) becomes her only friend and confidant. I liked how he fit in the story and how he was pretty much the key to the truth. He was the only character (aside for Kelsie) whom I felt had a purpose in the actually book, and was given a genuine problem: to tell Alice everything he knows and ruin everything he has with Alice (whatever that is), or keep it quite and let her suffer till graduation. With Kurt's character, I would've loved to see him and Alice have more cute moments together, and see him have a social panick attack or something because he feels so guilty and out of place.

Kelsie's character was the next best POV told in the book. She was Alice's best friend from Michigan who so desperately wants to stay popular and not revert back to her social outcast ways. I found her really annoying, and when I learned about the The Really Awful Stuff I was sympathetic for 2.5 seconds because of her parent's role in it, but then just didn't care because she deserved it. I hated her reasoning with Alice's involvement with The Really Awful Stuff, and had the urge to throw the book across the room because of it. When she was feeling guilty, I shouted GOOD! real loud that my little brother passed by my room looking at me like I was crazy. She had a huge role because it was her who started one of the most nasty rumours of them all (despite the fact it hit so close to home), and the Slut Stall. She had such a deep back story with her Jesus loving mom, her own insecurities and flaws that I had so much hope for her, but she really did nothing to redeem herself in any way possible. She talked about being Alice's BFF and after everything that's happened she wishes they were friends, even though she doesn't deserve it. Other than Alice herself, she had one of the most interesting stories. I would've liked to see her develop more and get more in-depth wth her, and I want to see her go crazy! She has so much crap on her, I really was just slowly waiting for her guilt to driver her insane to amp everything up.

Josh and Elaine weren't my favourite POV's. Josh was the most pointless in my opinion, but I felt he was more human than Elaine. He survived the car accident, but his story didn't really have much to do with "keeping Alice down". He's more of the observer of the entire book because he is Josh's best friend and also knows the truth about Alice. He, like Kurt, could've cleared her name, but unlike Kurt, he would've had more power to stop it because of his social status. I liked how the author explored his sexuality and that really brought his character to life, but his disassociatation with Alice made him almost irrelevant in my eyes. I would've liked to see him interact with Alice more, and shown that jealousy he had when Brandon and Josh were together.

Elaine was just not my favourite. It wasn't because she was the Queen Beeotch in this book (which she totally is), but because her POV was really whiney, unsympathetic to other characters, no redemption attempted and was not likeable. They way she told her side of the story was Regina Georgesque so I found it a little amusing (in a good way), but overall I hated how she blamed Alice for things that happened in the past. I liked how the author hinted at her jealousy but didn't really make it pronounced because her actions spoke for it. I didn't find anything to sympathize for her with- I mean, there was the whole body issue thing, but that only generated enough sympathy as The Really Awful Stuff with Kelsie. I can see how she stood up for herself kind of softened her up and attempted to reconcile with Alice, but it wasn't enough build to see if her character truly meant it. 

Overall, the book was good. I liked Alice's part in the end of the book, but I didn't like how she just accepted it. I liked her and Kurt at the end very much and I have hope for them :) I think this book had a good concept, but it lacked that intensity. It was emotional and dramatic, but I feel like there needed to be something big to amp everything up. Like there could've been a scene where Alice and someone could've fought, or there could've been a scene where Alice was so done with the bullying that she actually did sue the school and have it blow up in her face, and that could've gave it more driving force. This book was really short, and told in alternating POVs so it wasn't really that much of a roller coaster ride. If it were longer, maybe we could've gotten more development and such.

But I really did enjoy this book. It wasn't an I'm-going-to-go-live-in-cave-for-the-next-six-months type of book, but it was the type of book that told the story of bullying realistically and didn't hide anything. The Truth About Alice wasn't about the life of the bullied, but the life of the bullies and the by-stander, and how ruining another person's life ultimately ruins your own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 
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