Thursday 14 March 2013

Review -- The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S-Word

Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: 07 May 2013
Date Read: February 2013
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

When I heard of The S Word, I thought, "Oh my God. This is going to be one of the great ones." The synopsis and the file and the cover looked so promising. But upon closer inspection, you realize it's just fool's gold and you're pissed because you got played. But, hey, at least have you this pretty shiny thing. You have no use for it, but nothing you can do.

I'm not always so keen on reading issue-y books. The writing can so easily turn preachy. With this type of genre, the writing style is one of the most important things to get right, just like how in fantasy books, the world building better be freaking fantastic or else you might as well just not have tried. There is a line that most authors cross when writing these types of books. And the thing is, the line is so thin that you don't even realize that you've walked across the other side. You only know that the ground feels different or the air smells staler and there is just something different. You don't know when it happened or how, only that you don't like it. That was one of the major problems I had with The S-Word. Pitcher told me how the characters were feeling, how hard their circumstances were instead of making me feel it. No matter how good the moral of your story is, no one is going to listen if you don't deliver it well, especially with the kinds of issues this book tried to tackle. I just felt like I was getting preached at.

It had the contemporary elements but it also read like a mystery novel. Angie is trying to unearth who the vandal is, the one who wrote 'Suicide Slut' on Lizzie's locker. Angie finds pages from Lizzie's diary, each one incriminating a different character as the guilty one. Angie interrogated these 'suspects', trying to see if they had the means and the motive to pass Angie's entry pages around school. She never really mourned for the death of her best friend- no sadness or grief. She was more focused on finding playing detective than really feeling the loss of her best friend. I don't know if Pitcher did that on purpose, to show Angie's denial and real trauma or just lack of character development. Besides the dialogue was so unrealistic, especially when it came to the conversations between Angie and fellow classmates/ her 'suspects'. I can't imagine anyone speaking like that, especially someone from high school.

Lizzie is already dead by the time the novel starts. We never get to meet her. We only know her from her diary entries. Lizzie's 'voice' is so stiff and unnatural, even more so since this is supposed to be her diary, her unfiltered thoughts. But the writing isn't all bad. There were actually some really great passages but the awkwardness and stiffness of the whole thing just outshone the good parts.

There were plenty of characters to focus on. The side characters all had their own issues, but to me, that's all they ever seemed like- issues. The only way I could distinguish each character was by remembering what was wrong with them- the pervy nerd, the competitive drama queen, cheerleader bitch... Everyone was just screwed up. I know everyone has their own stuff to deal with, but we're not all fucking crazy. I'm sick and tired of authors thinking the only way characters can be 'interesting' is to make their lives horrible.

This is such a screwed up book. With screwed up characters. Can't somebody just be freaking normal?

There were some parts that were good. There's a lot about discrimination, being judgmental, seeing past appearances, vengeance, hypocricy, hate and of course, slut shaming. But Pitcher was just all over the place. I didn't feel like she conveyed any hard hitting messages, just touched on a couple very then quickly moved on to the even more messed up character. The S-Word had very good intentions but Pitcher just didn't know how to execute her ideas well.

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