Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Girl, Paige Harbison

I'm IN LOVE with this cover! Gorgeous!
Title: New Girl
Author: Paige Harbison (author website)
Release Date: January 31st 2012 by HarlequinTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery
My Rating:1 star2 star5 star

I was ambivalent about New Girl for a while. Like its main character’s love interest, I ran hot and cold—for a good third of the book. Then it sucked me in, and I was drawn into Manderley’s imposing stone walls, mysteries and social cliques. Not so much a scary tale or mystery, New Girl is a tale of social isolation, manipulation, and identity. So bring your flashlight, because New Girl is a dark little story.

From Goodreads:
They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me a...moreThey call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

New Girl

New Girl book is told from split point of views: The titular ‘New Girl’s first person and Becca Normandy’s third. Two very different characters, starting out in two very similar places.

The new girl I mentioned? That’s all you’re getting for a name. Throughout the story her name remains a mystery, and this little riddle is woven into the book so well, I barely noticed. It’s strips away another of her layers, because that’s what this book is about: Identity. Who you are, who you’re perceived as, who you try to be, or even try not to be.

The book starts out with New Girl (who I’ll refer to as NG from now on, to avoid confusion :D) being shipped off to an exclusive boarding school for her final year at school, and as it progresses, NG seems to lose herself even more in the shadow of the last new girl at the school: Becca Normandy. Pretty, popular, and missing. While she’s not being openly bullied so much, she’s subjected to painful psychological torment. NG starts out seeming slightly whiny, though outwardly stoic, but as the story moves forward, she starts asserting herself. But more than asserting herself througout the novel, she grows to be OK within herself, without lashing out, or telling people how it is. She develops a quiet core of strength that is stable regardless of the cruelty she's subjected to, and I loved watching this side of her grow. She grows to understand that she's worth knowing, she's a good person, and she has the confidence and composure to understand that it doesn't matter what other people think, but what she does.


NG is great, but oh my, she's not half as compelling as the infamous Rebecca Normandy.
Becca starts at Manderley one year prior to NG, and we’re given the story of the year preceding NG’s in alternating chapters. Now Becca is interesting. Likable? No. But interesting? Oh yes. While it’s never implicitly stated, the fact that Becca Normandy is a textbook psychopath has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Becca manipulates, lies and cheats, but she hides it behind a mask of the perfect popular-girl. She seems friendly and kind, but it’s hiding a deliciously cold, calculating core. As the story of Becca’s year progresses in tandem with NG’s, her web of lies and manipulation unravel. The mystery of her disappearance, as well as the reasons for her classmate’s cruel behaviour towards NG, is slowly revealed, and Harbison handles this artfully. Becca's story and twisted mind was one of my favourite parts of New Girl. Bring on the crazy!

Prince Un-Charming

While New Girl has a lot going for it, it’s certainly not perfect. One of the major plot points in the book is NG and Becca’s shared love interest, Max Holloway. While NG genuinely likes him, Becca sees him as a tool and a pawn. One she’s not afraid to use. Max has obviously been burned, but he sets himself up to be used by Becca by using her, and his behaviour towards NG is on/off, hot/cold, and his capriciousness irritated me. Prince Charming one minute, cold and aloof the next, I found him difficult to like.

Sex, Drugs, and...

New Girl is dark. It’s brimming with teen sex and alcohol and drug use. They’re certainly not glorified, but constantly present. Becca sees these as tools for her manipulations, but NG finds herself caught up in the Manderley student body’s reckless behavior... not that she’s so very unwilling. New Girl is certainly not meant for young teens. The characters in this book are reckless. The sex? Unprotected. The drinking? Out of control. Like I said, not glorified: This is a plot point, and the repercussions are shown.

The Verdict

New Girl is gorgeously written, with lines of prose so beautifully crafted they verge on poetry. It’s a tale of finding one’s identity, and losing it. It’s an unexpectedly dark story, with interesting, though not necessarily likable characters, and while its mystery didn’t quite deliver the tension and menace I’d hoped for, I liked it. New Girl is a dark, psychological story, beautifully written, for older teen readers.

Thank you thank you thank you to HarlequinTEEN Australia for providing a review copy of New Girl!


  1. Is it just my imagination or I thought I remember seeing this review posted in the blog before? LOL. But anyway, awesome review as usual, Sarah! I totally agre that New Girl is gorgeously written, dark and a story for older teen readers!

    1. Hehe, I answered you on The Tweeters, but yes, you would've seen it on Goodreads. I posted it a few weeks ago, but it took me a while to post because of backlog ;)

  2. same here
    glad u liked it
    it was trilling

  3. DUde, you might not have liked it freaking a lot but this book sounds like my type of book!! Im SO adding it to my wish list!!! thank you my dear, though I hope I will like the characters cuz I love books with themes like, drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex that have consequences later on (life lessons' books with a lot of reflections and stuff) Teen's life is complicated, hell yeah =T

    great review my dear! muah!!!

    Dazzling Reads

  4. This book seems so intriguing! A lot of the reviews have said similar things like you, with Becca being a psychopath and Max. I love what you said about the prose though, that really makes me want to read it more!

  5. You already know that I agree with pretty much everything you just said, so yeah..:P

  6. I'm kind of fascinated by the idea of Becca as a psychopath. I love reading about crazy people! (Hopefully that doesn't mean I'M crazy. :P) I'm glad you liked it; I'm going to check it out because it has a lot of things that I enjoy--great writing, darkness, and psychological aspects. Great review! :)
    - Lauren

  7. AWESOME review!! I read this one a little while ago and I totally agree!!

    There were some parts that I really liked and others that I wasn't a big fan of haha

  8. I agree with Celine; I SWEAR I read this on your blog a while ago! ( I remember reading the infamous line Prince Uncharming and I cracked up laughing! ). As much as I LOVE psychological thrillers, especially when there's the right amount of creepiness to it, I don't know if this'll be for me :S Prince Un-charming and Becca's evil, manipulating actions sorta turn me off :/ But I DO love how we're kept in the dark about NG's name! I've never read a book like that before! Soo...I think I might borrow this from the library and read it :D FANTASTIC review! I swear your reviews are ALWAYS flawless <33

    1. I answered on Twitter, but yep, I posted it on Goodreads a couple of weeeks ago ;)

      Seriously, though, while Max didn't necessarily do it for me, evil Becca was one of my favourite parts of the book. She was BRILLIANT XD

      And she becomes a little bit more sympathetic and relatable as the book goes on. I ended up really feeling for her in the end :(

  9. You know, I totally pulled a judge a book by its cover and title thing with this one and was planning on passing on it until I saw your review. I tend to like dark, psychological tales, and this one definitely sounds unique, if nothing else. Though I'm not so sure how much I'm going to like Max based on your description...

  10. Great honest review. I have this to read. I think I shall give it a go. I do like dark as lately I have found out.


  11. I don't know why, but the fact that you linked Psychopath to a wikipedia explanation made me giggle :D ANYWAY.

    This does sound like an incredibly intriguing noveL. I'm very interested as to why her name is such a mystery and why everyone is such an ass to her. But I'm not a huuuge fan of reading bitchy characters or much of the whole reckless teenage behaviour with drugs/sex/alcohol. I mean, I can appreciate when an another pulls it off and really shows the ramifications, they're just not my favourite kinds of stories to read. But all in all, this sounds like a deep, dark novel that's likable despite some issues you had.

    And do I even need say it? .... A-FREAKING-MAZING REVIEW.

  12. Great review! I'm glad you liked this one. I haven't read it yet myself but I am intrigued by the description. And your review has definitely made me want to get to it even more! :)

    Sam @ Realm of Ficton

  13. Oh, but the news of Max being not likable has brought me down. I really hope I like him better. Is there a sequel or something to this book?

    I love psychos. Now, psychos, please don't take that as an invitation XD but I find them sooo fascinating. The way we think and maneuver is just awesome, so I'm looking forward to Becca. NG, I'm not all that excited about though, surprisingly.

    REALLY, Max isn't all that in a bag of chips with a side of orange soda? I'm really disappointed! :K

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

    1. I am pretty sure this one's a standalone. It's apparently actually a retelling of an older book called Rebecca that I've never read, so it'll just be the one. I rather like standalones :D

  14. ROFL. I said we and I meant *they

    ... OR. DID. I? Muahaha.

  15. Oooh, this sounds interesting. I like Becca. Gotta love psychopaths. They're so interesting. I like the fact that the book is dark. I'm kinda into that right now. Dark reads. Great review.

  16. I have this one waiting to be read on NetGalley. Thanks for the great review Sarah! I know a lot more about it now than what I did before. I'm not sure about darker reads myself so I will have to see how I go with this one!

  17. I completely agree with you! I loved reading from Becca's POV because she's just so crazy and compelling. The romance bored me to no end, too - it's so... blah. And I love this part: "It’s strips away another of her layers, because that’s what this book is about: Identity. Who you are, who you’re perceived as, who you try to be, or even try not to be." Great explanation of the name-thing!

  18. Great review, I just picked this book out as a birthday present, can't wait to read it now



Currently Reading:

Follow Me

Can't see Google Friend Connect? Join This Site

Want an e-mail notification when there's a new post at saz101? Enter your e-mail, and the Feedburner faeries will answer your wishes ♥


I receive books from publishers, in exchange for honest reviews. When this is the case, I state so at the end of each post. This doesn't effect my review of the book, or my opinion, and I receive no monetary compensation for anything posted on this site.
When you click on a link to Amazon from, I receive a small referral fee on any purchases made. It won't cost you any more to buy your books this way, but it does help to support this blog.
If you have any questions about any of the content on this site, contact me :)