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Review: Shes So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

shes so dead to us kieran scott Review: Shes So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Blurb: Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didnt like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Allys mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Allys new low-key, happy life, itll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross. . .

Shes So Dead to Us,'YA author Kieran Scotts newest outing, deals with the difficulty of navigating the social labyrinth of the schoolground, but it also casts a wider net, examining also'the wider social networks of which school itself is just a part.

Its with rather well-justified trepidation that Ally Ryan returns to her hometown of Orchard Hill after an abrupt departure two years earlier. This departure, it turns out, was one that essentially involved the Ryans fleeing the inescapable fall-out resulting from the crash of a hedge fund managed by Allys father. While Mr Ryan is currently AWOL, Allys mother has been working to recreate the upper-middle class live she had previously enjoyed in Orchard Hill.

Of course, one should never underestimate the incomparable schadenfreude of a group of snotty and entitled teens. Despite Allys mothers rose-coloured outlook on life, its immediately clear that Ally has sustained a mighty'fall from the glittery ranks of the soi-disant elite Cresties, those who live on the uber-moneyed Crest Ridge area, to something apparently only a fraction above Untouchable status. Despite Allys every effort, her erstwhile friends have little intention of letting her back into their arch clique. Indeed, rather than employing something as low-key as the cold shoulder routine, the group gets a little bit Mean Girls and more than a little bit Carrie on poor Ally. Goodness. Give me Sweet Valleys Unicorn Club any day!

I have to admit that the central conceit of this novel does leave me a little cold, as Im not one to take great pleasure in the vicarious experience of someone elses misery. But Scott works hard to make Ally a strong and likeable character, while allowing her not a few moments of nuanced weakness. Her voice is generally smooth and assured, carefully toeing the line between casual and too slangy, and I think this works well for Allys character. However, given Allys take-it-on-the-chin type of personality, and her oft-disparaging attitude towards the Cresties, its at times puzzling to watch Allys desperate efforts to regain her role within her former peer group. This feels sometimes less like ambivalence and more like awkward writing thats dragging a character in a direction thats not quite appropriate to her motivations.

Where these gauche efforts at scaling a social ladder that seems about as enjoyable and as impassive as the pinnacle of Everest are particularly well (and painfully) wrought is in Allys mothers attempts to ingratiate herself into her old circle of friends, and in particular, to the frosty and socially competitive Sunday dinners. Scott does a good job of contrasting the appalling behaviour of both the older and younger Cresties, and highlights the tragic fruitlessness of aspiring for status for statuss sake.

Interspersed throughout this narrative thread is the matter of Allys love life, which somewhat mirrors the main narrative in that it involves her wavering between two boys who each represent, respectively, norm and Chrestie status. Shes So Dead to Us is written using alternating viewpoints, with Allys perspective broken up by that of Jake, her Crestie suitor. Jake is most blatantly representative of Allys old life, living as he does in her old home and having so easily insinuated his way into her old friendship groups. Frankly, I found Jake difficult to identify with, and I have to admit that I found my feminist hackles raising on more than one occasion.'Jake, for me, steps over the cool guy line into the territory of the callous guy, and his latent brutality and cold attitude towards not only Ally, but also the other female characters, really served to distance me from his character. I had a similar problem with the character of Alex in Simone Elkeless Perfect Chemistry (see my review), but in that case found that the character was presented with enough depth and compassion that I managed to muster up a fair bit of empathy towards him in the end. Unfortunately, Jake never rose above insensitive self-obsessed jock status for me.

Readers might also want to note that Shes So Dead to Us is the first in a trilogy, and that its ending is more than a little abrupt. All of the major plot arcs are left as open as a shopping centre on Christmas eve, which may be dissatisfying for some readers, although others will no doubt be on tenterhooks for the next instalment.

200px 3 stars.svg 1 Review: Shes So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

With thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for the review copy

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