From the Publisher
"Some books are read and put away. Others demand to be talked about. Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl will be talked about." Ellen Hopkins, New York Times bestselling author of Crank
"I was knocked over by Living Dead Girl. Most authors want to hear 'I couldn't put it down' from their fans. Living Dead Girl is a book you have to put down; then you have to pick it right back up. The beauty of this story is that, though none of its readers will have had this experience, all will feel connected to it. It is told in the rarest of air, yet speaks horrifically to all our imaginations." Chris Crutcher, author of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Deadline
"A haunting story of an abducted girl you'll be desperate and helpless to save; her captor so disturbing, so menacing, you'll want to claw the pages from this book and shred them. Brava to Elizabeth Scott for creating such an intense, real, and perfectly painful story of terror, not without hope. Living Dead Girl is impossible to ignore." Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of Wake
Fans of Scott's YA romances Perfect You or Bloom may be unprepared for the unrelieved terror within this chilling novel, about a 15-year-old girl who has spent the last five years being abused by a kidnapper named Ray and is kept powerless by Ray's promise to harm her family if she makes one false move. The narrator knows she is the second of the girls Ray has abducted and renamed Alice; Ray killed the first when she outgrew her childlike body at 15, and now Alice half-hopes her own demise is approaching ("I think of the knife in the kitchen, of the bridges I've seen from the bus... but the thing about hearts is that they always want to keep beating"). Ray, however, has an even more sinister plan: he orders Alice to find a new girl, then train her to Ray's tastes. Scott's prose is spare and damning, relying on suggestive details and their impact on Alice to convey the unimaginable violence she repeatedly experiences. Disturbing but fascinating, the book exerts an inescapable grip on readers-like Alice, they have virtually no choice but to continue until the conclusion sets them free. Ages 16-up. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KLIATT - Ashleigh Larsen
Five years ago, Alice was abducted by Ray on a school field trip. Now, at the age of 15, she is still the victim of endless mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Her every move is controlled and watched by Ray, and even her food is rationed so her weight won't exceed 100 pounds. Her body is merely an empty shell, and her deepest desire is that death will claim her soon. Instead, Ray asks her to find him a new girl that both of them can train to love him and satisfy his cravings. Alice can't help but think that having a new love for Ray might provide solace and rest for her body, but would it be eternal? In searching for a young girl, Alice meets a boy who makes her think, for the first time ever, about escaping. Knowing that harm will come to her family if she were to try anything makes her hesitant. But when the opportunity arises, will she be able to break Ray's hold on her life in order to find freedom? The violence in this novel is graphic at times, but Scott's portrayal of an abducted child's experience and mindset is shockingly authentic. It will comfort YAs who have ever felt abandoned, alone, or trapped in any situation, while giving them hope for freedom that might seem impossible. Reviewer: Ashleigh Larsen
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Alice has not always been Alice. Five years ago, Ray abducted her during an aquarium visit and everything changed. Now she is too old, and Ray is looking for a little girl - a new Alice - to take her place. Alice has found the perfect girl, but it may not mean the freedom for which Alice has been longing. Scott creates a heartbreaking and shattering novel that goes deep into a terrifying world without ever being lurid or gruesome. The horror of Alice's tale is in its matter-of-fact presentation. Ray's behaviors - as vile and deviant as there are - come with an eerily rational explanation. Even more disturbing is how little anyone around Alice and Ray sees, how willing they are to accept Ray's story that he is Alice's father and that she is homeschooled because of special needs. There are no happy endings here; readers learn the horrors Ray himself faced that shaped him into the monster he is, and they see in Alice how easily transformation can happen. Scott does a tremendous job of showing the pervasive sexual and physical abuse Alice suffers without being graphic. If anything the subtly of the descriptions is even more haunting than a detailed description would have been. This book is one of those rare novels that is difficult to read but impossible to put down and should not be missed. Reviewer: Vikki Terrile
Anjeanette C. Alexander-Smith
Childhood is a time of innocence, a time of imagination, and a time of bliss. School should be a place of discovery filled with opportunities to explore the world through textbooks, playing, and fieldtrips. A fieldtrip shouldn't be the beginning of a five-year nightmare. But for Alice, it was that and much, much more. Ray, an older guy, abducts her from an aquarium where her classmates have abandoned her over a silly argument. The author's short chapters and vivid imagery paint a portrait of a young girl who is subjected to the cycle of abuse. When Alice's body matures, Ray demands that she find a replacement, or he will murder her family. Will Alice assist Ray with the creation of another living dead girl? Due to the mature content of this young adult novel, teachers are advised to use it with 9th12th graders or mature 8th graders. Reviewer: Anjeanette C. Alexander-Smith
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Alice, whose real name and childhood have been stolen by her kidnapper, lives a bleak life of abuse and despair. Taken by Ray at the age of ten, she has endured five years of vicious beatings and equally vicious sexual invasions interspersed with his assurances of how much he loves her. Alice tells us her story in a voice that discloses her acceptance that there is no way out for her but the death she both longs for and fears. Ray thwarted her early escape efforts by warning her that if she runs away he will go to her home and kill her parents. He also lets her know that he killed the "Alice" before her when she grew too tall and womanly to appeal to him. To keep Alice a child as long as he can, he keeps her on a starvation diet, regularly sends her to have her pubic hair waxed, and gives her pills to prevent menstruation. But Alice is growing in spite of all his efforts and now Ray orders her to find him a replacement, though he says he will keep her alive so she can help him subdue the new girl. At first, Alice goes about her taskto find a suitable young girl in a local parkwith the hope that his attentions to the new child will stop his abuse of her. But when the time comes to divert Lucy's older brother Jake so that Ray can take the child, she cannot follow through. She yells at Lucy to run. Ray grabs the girl and Jake comes out of the bushes with a gun. In the ensuing struggle, Jake fires the gun twice, killing Ray but accidentally hitting Alice as well. The new child is saved and Alice is finally released by death. The book is powerful and well written, but emotionally disturbing. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Elizabeth Scott's gripping story (Simon Pulse, 2008), one of the most talked about books of 2008, is even more intense and chilling in audiobook format. "Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was." These sentences offer only a glimpse of the horrific nightmare she has been living since being abducted during a school field trip when she was ten years old and forced to be Ray's sex toy and stay child-like. In short and punctuating chapters, Alice, now 15, speaks about the suffocating and paralyzing fear that keeps her with her captor, who has threatened to kill her entire family if she attempts to escape. It is only when Ray tells Alice that she must find a new little girl for him that she has the any hope that she will eventually be free of his grasp, even if that freedom means her own death. Narrator Kate Reinders becomes Alice, with her voice poignantly moving through the horror, desperation, anger, resignation, and pain that Alice feels. The story and the breathtaking ending are so vividly brought to life that it is at times difficult to listen.—Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY
Scott, best known for such chick-lit pleasers as Bloom (2008), breaks the mold with this harrowing tale of abuse leavened only by lyric writing a la Adam Rapp (33 Snowfish, 2003, etc.). When Alice was ten, Ray kidnapped her; five years later, Alice wishes only to escape by dying, as the last Alice did. But her freedom comes at a price-a new girl for Ray. Bit by bit, Alice reveals the depths of psychological and physical terror that hold her captive. Her voice is convincingly naive yet prematurely aged; vivid but never graphic, details of the sexual abuse perfectly capture the way in which she has normalized her situation while still recognizing the truth. Ray is a complex abuser, perhaps a bit too psychotic but terrifying nevertheless; he himself was abused, and the logic of how his own past has shaped his present and his treatment of Alice never falters. Choosing Ray's next victim does not provide a re-entry into empathy, a bold but believable choice. Scott provides neither easy answers nor a happy resolution, although the ending provides a grim sense of release. (Fiction. 16 & up)
Read an Excerpt
This is how things look:
Shady Pines Apartments, four shabby buildings tucked off the road near the highway. Across from a strip mall with nail places and a cash-loan store that advertises on TV all the time. There's also a drugstore and tiny restaurants, every one opening and closing within months.
Shady Pines is nice enough, if it's all you can afford. The stairs are chipped but solid, the washing machines always work, and management picks up the trash once a week.
A few mothers sit outside their buildings, resting in fraying lawn chairs and talking over each other while their children run around, playing. One dog lies sleeping in the sun, twitching its tail when a child comes over and pats the top of its head before running away, giggling.
That man in the far building, the car guy, is outside, a pile of parts scattered on the black ooze of the parking lot around him. Car guy has been here since you moved in, but you never see him except for sunny weekends, when he works on his car.
Not that he ever drives it.
He's a strange one, that's for sure, living alone, always with that car, not really ever talking to anyone, but every place has one weirdo, and at least car guy cleans up after himself. He's almost obsessive about it.
Still, see how he sighs when that man, the one whose daughter is quiet and, sadly, a little slow, pulls into the space next to his? See how he watches the girl get out of the car? She's a skinny little thing, always hunching over a bit, like she's taller than she thinks she is. Homeschooled, of course, because of how she is, or so someone once told you when you were getting the mail, and there are no secrets around here, not with everyone living so close together.
She walks slowly across the lot, trailing behind her father, who waits patiently for her to get to the building door, holding it open even though he's carrying all the bags. She doesn't even say thank you, but what can you expect? Kids never know how good they have it.
Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Spencer
This is how things are:
Cold, from the grocery store, from the dairy aisle you walked down to pick up the yogurt, from the frozen-food aisle, its cases filled deep with frozen pizzas and ice cream in large round containers.
Cold, getting out of the truck, foot clinking over something metallic, piece of a car lying on the ground.
Don't stop to look.
Walk up the stairs, Ray's footsteps behind you. Listen to him pause, smiling at the one open apartment door, the Indian family on the second floor, always children running in and out, sometimes their TV turned up so loud at night Ray has to go down there and knock on the door, say please turn it down? Thank you so much.
"Was that guy in the parking lot looking at you?" Ray says when you walk into the apartment, as soon as the door thunks closed and he's turned the locks, one, two, three. Better safe than sorry, he always says.
Shake your head no, no. Even if he did look, it would never be at you.
No one ever really looks at you.
Ray puts the groceries away, yogurt in the fridge, his oatmeal in its individual packets in the cabinet above the sink. Five apples, one for each day when he comes home from work. Five TV dinners you'll heat up at night for him to eat unless he brings something home.
He comes over to the sofa. Holds out a glass of water so cold the sides are frosty, ice cubes clinking inside. You've pulled your skirt up to your waist, arms resting by your sides, palms up and open. Waiting.
"Good," he says, and lies on top of you. Heavy and pushing, always pushing. "Good girl, Alice."
Afterward, he will give you the water and a container of yogurt. He will sit with one hand curled around your knee. You will watch TV together. He will tell you how lucky you are.
"Yes," you will say. "I know I am."
Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Spencer
Once upon a time, I did not live in Shady Pines.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was.
Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Spencer