Thursday 24 May 2012

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

from goodreads

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.


Every year, a List is posted all over Mount Washington High during Homecoming week. No one knows who the maker of the List is and how the responsibility is passed on every year but the List contains the names of the "Prettiest" and "Ugliest" girl of each grade. The List by Siobhan Vivian follows these eight girls over the course of the week. These girls may have nothing in common but whether they are the "Prettiest" or "Ugliest", it affects them and people around them in ways they would've never imagined.

The eight girls in the List couldn't be more different from each other; which made me wonder who the maker of the List is more than once. Yet, as different as they are, it changes them forever as being on the List caused them to suffer the consequences that come with being labeled. A superficial label like Pretty or Ugly is enough to change the way others perceive you and even how you perceive yourself. The fast pace and breezy writing style drew me in and I got equally attached to all of the eight girls, trying desperately to figure them out. The root of their turmoil and motives for some of their actions weren't exactly on the surface most of the time.

I'm usually not a fan of stories told in more than four perspectives, let alone eight. It has the potential to get confusing but the multiple perspectives were handled well and the issues dealt with were intense: involving an eating disorder, an overprotective mother, self fulfilling prophecies, heartbreak and emotional turmoil. Truths are revealed about the rules of attractiveness in high school. Even being declared Prettiest is not necessarily a perk.

Unfortunately, while I finished this book within twenty four hours... I was left wanting more. There was so much that was left unsaid and some of the details that were revealed were too ambiguous to be made sense of. Even if they could be interpreted, they didn't stop driving me mad. I like open endings and everything but it just didn't work for me in The List. For instance, the maker of that year's List was deliberated on and finally revealed but we were left wondering about the fate of the List in the later years...

And there was no final showdown! We were just left... hanging. Even fifteen more minutes with the characters would've been enough to fix that. I mean, sure, the crux of the plot was dealt with. But it still felt like a movie with the climax cut out. I had just got attached to the characters and it was like they faded into thin air without any explanation. Sadly, that alone made the book as light as air for me. While thought provoking and amazingly written with extremely memorable characters, The List left me waiting for some any kind of closure.

Publication date: 1st April, 2012
Publisher: Push
Source: Bought
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


  1. I was thinking about getting this book, but 8 POVs ??
    That seems too much for me. I can't even read a book with 3 POVs at times !
    It's too bad that there is no closure. I hate when that occurs in books. Makes me want to throw the book in a corner.
    Thanks for the honest review :)

  2. I rated this book the exact same way! I thought that the whole concept was really interesting (although I don't think a list like that would be taken as seriously in my high school -- at least I hope so LOL) and I finished it in a day too. But I didn't like the ending either! It was sort of like a cross between a cliffhanger and an open-ending except I don't think there's a sequel to it. And I was really looking forward to a final showdown too -- it would've been kind of exciting! x)

    Thanks for the awesome honest review, Ajoop! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who felt only mildly about this book :) <3

  3. I've been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it! I completely understand why parts of it didn't work out for you, I would totally get confused by the 8 different povs! I think I still will check this out, but I won't be in a rush to do so as I was before! :)

  4. Ah, seems like this book will be a compilation of eight sad stories! It's too bad that the ending is not good - I hate it when it's left open ending! Well, there must be a reason why it's called the ending/final, right? x) Ah, these girls seem to suffer with all the labels. I hate labels. >:(

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL review, Ajoop! Although you only end up feeling mildly about this book, I'm glad that there are still parts you enjoyed <3

  5. That's a bummer about the ending. Some books really do need better closure. I do think the story sounds interesting though, and the premise is quite fascinating and heartbreaking. I'm glad all the point of views worked...I was curious about it being 8 people!


  6. This sounds so good and it could really make an impact. I am sorry though that there is no resolution or showdown that is frustrating probably even more than a cliffhanger. What a bummer!

  7. Hmm not sure this one is for me, the no closure turns me off..awesome review.

  8. @Nick It's in third person and 8 POVs are actually managed pretty well. I didn't get confused because of the multiple POVs or anything and it was a pretty smooth transition from one POV to the next! I wished there had been more closure, though. :(

    @Mimi Ah, I know. I'd like to think The List wouldn't have been given much importance in my school too. The class size is pretty small so I'm sure it wouldn't have, actually. And I'd like to think some action would've been taken by the school in real life! The premise had so much potential and in a way, I loved so many things about the book but the opening ending/cliffhanger killed it for me, ESPECIALLY since it's a standalone.

    @Jasprit I was very excited for this book too! It was pretty great. But I hoped for a more satisfying conclusion. Oh well!

    @Hilda I know. Labels are self fulfilling prophecies. >:/ I liked a lot of things about this book. Too bad the conclusion wasn't very satisfying!

    @Lauren Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Lauren :) It's a very fascinating premise. I loved a lot of things about this book. Wish I'd been more satisfied with the ending!

    @Heidi It's definitely a great read because of the message it carries. I wish it had less of an open ending, though!

  9. @Kimba I wish The List had more closure as well >_< It was near-perfect otherwise!

  10. I've got this on my shelf and I am really looking forward to it, thanks for reminding me of the multiple PoVs!

  11. Thanks for honest review, and the heads up about unsatisfying ending.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  12. @VeganYANerds I hope you enjoy it, Mandee =) Will be on the look out for your review!

    @Brandi Thanks for stopping by my blog, Brandi :)

  13. I've wanted to read this ever since I found out about it and I like how it deals with issues that teenagers are facing nowadays. But it's told from EIGHT point of views?! Wow, I would probably get far too confused but at least you warmed to all of them :)

    Great review! I'm a new follower :)
    Beverley @ A Reading Daydreamer

  14. It's an amazing take on a lot of issues teenagers face today! I loved the message it contained especially since it looks at the rules of teenage attraction. The eight POVs might look like too much but it's actually pretty smooth xD Thanks for stopping by and following my blog, Beverley! x)


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)