The Different Girl

The Different Girl

2.9 13
by Gordon Dahlquist
     
 

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A timeless and evocative debut for contemporary and sci-fi fans

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and

Overview

A timeless and evocative debut for contemporary and sci-fi fans

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held up to the life the girls have never before questioned.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Veronika lives on an island. Each day, she and her three sisters walk the island and observe details of nature. The girls are tutored by two adults: Irene who is kind and Robbert who seems worried and a bit irascible. Veronika, Caroline, Isobel and Eleanor look alike, except for their hair color. Each has a strength. Veronika's is that she may at times be able to think independently. Caroline dreams. Each day is like the last, and the girls do not seem to mind, even allowing Irene to put them to sleep each night by touching a button on their heads. The two main rules are to learn and to refrain from walking into the ocean. Unexpectedly, an outsider, May, washes up on the shore of the island, the victim of a shipwreck. Irene and Robbert help the girl, but they seem distressed at the intrusion of the outside world. Dahlquist creates a sterile world, in which four "girls" strive to grow in knowledge and in talent. The outside world is viewed with suspicion. The author seems to have desired to tell this exact story, accepting that action would be subjugated to being inside the character Veronika's head. Veronika only knows what she and her sisters have been taught slowly (very slowly,) the physical composition of the island and how to pay attention to small things, which may lead to larger comprehensions. In this dystopian story, science is acclaimed, and the religious right vilified. Unfortunately, not enough answers are provided for the interesting questions that Dahlquist sets up. What will the future be if scientists are again persecuted? What will the world be like if humanity steps back from its technological accomplishments? Can artificial intelligence reach human emotional heights? Reviewer: Greta Holt
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—With The Different Girl, Dahlquist presents a cryptic vision of the future through the eyes of artificial intelligence. Life has always been the same for four teens. The girls study their island with the help of their teachers. Each day is the same: walking and talking and building upon the things they learned in the days before until it is time for the teachers to put them to sleep. But when May arrives, life begins to change at a frightening pace. The narrator, Veronika, knows only what her teachers tell her and what she is able to observe. Readers must rely heavily on imagination and inference to puzzle out the circumstances of the world beyond the island and the extreme secrecy that seems to surround the four robotic girls and their handlers. Fans of science fiction and dystopian societies will find plenty to pique their interest, but little to satisfy their questions.—Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AK
Kirkus Reviews
Four nearly identical girls living with their teachers on a tropical island have difficulty getting along with a new girl who seems different from them in this unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing. Written entirely from the point of view of one of the island girls, Veronika, the simple prose slowly reveals who--or what--the girls might be. At first glance, the only difference appears to be hair color, but each turns out to have a different focus. They spend their days learning in their classroom from adults Robbert and Irene and taking observational walks. The girls look closely at everything they see, describing it all when they return. Robbert strives to hide the girls from any outside eyes and makes sure they don't get wet. Things go awry when Veronika discovers May washed up on the beach, apparently the survivor of a shipwreck. Once she recovers from her injuries, May rejects the four girls and flees, but when an outside danger intrudes, it's May who steps up to save them. Dahlquist trusts his audience to notice his sparse but clear clues in order to decipher the true differences between May and the four island girls, and astute readers will have little difficulty with his scenario. The author never reveals why the girls are hidden away and what their purpose might be, leaving that to readers' imaginations. Most intriguing. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Different Girl

"Simple, sometimes profound first-person narration explores the nature of identity and what it means to be human in an oddly touching story of a future world."—The Horn Book

"[An] unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing . . . Most intriguing."—Kirkus Reviews

"Recommend this book to girls who like the process of self-discovery."—VOYA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525425977
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/21/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The Different Girl

"Simple, sometimes profound first-person narration explores the nature of identity and what it means to be human in an oddly touching story of a future world."—The Horn Book

"[An] unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing . . . Most intriguing."—Kirkus Reviews

"Recommend this book to girls who like the process of self-discovery."—VOYA

Meet the Author

Gordon Dahlquist is a graduate of Reed College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He worked for several years writing and directing plays, including Messalina (Evidence Room, Los Angeles: SPF, New York), and Delirium Palace (Evidence Room, Los Angeles; published in Breaking Ground), both of which received a Garland Playwriting Award.

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The Different Girl 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is more pointless than reading a story with no conflict, nothing to resolve, no plot line whatsoever. The story cnsists of walks, talks, and sleeping. Iver and over again you get suspicious that there will be a twist ending, that the girls will discover some horrible secret about their 'parents' maybe being evil or SOMETHING but in the end even the implied answers to your questions are sooo lacking. There was nothing that made this book worth reading. No danger other than a behind the scenes sort of thing, no excitimg or even imterestimg revelations, no poimt really. Plot? There wasnt one. It is hard to describe how EMPTY this book was. Empty of personality, importance, emotion, answers. I didnt conmect with any of the characters and when inrealized there would be no ansers or plot twists i wanted to burn the dang book for wastimg my time. It isnt worth reading. Really, there is nothing redeeming that would maake it a good book. You finish the book feeling cheated, because it started out giving you hope if a worthwhile story. But no, this book is empty empty empty. Dont read it.
Morganjs More than 1 year ago
This book was very different. It was a creative idea, but I think it needs more detail and more answers to be done well. The characters are like robots, but we are never really told that. There needs to be more explanation than a sleep (power?) button behind their ear.  The story itself moved really slowly. I felt like there was not a point to the book. The majority of the book was about about the girls/robots learning how to ask and answer questions. It was all about exploration, but it all confused me and seemed kind of pointless. Along with this, not much happened until the second half of the book. When it did happen, there was no explanation. I still could not tell you who came, why, what all they did, etc. Then it ends with the girls rebuilding things. There was no point to this book.  I received this book for review in return for an honest review. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It left a lot of questions to be answered about the girls.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dhdhhbd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spoiler Alert: the book looks really good at first. There is a plot. May shows up, and it looks like SOMETHING is going to happen. When Caroline dies, the characters don't feel any emotion and just go, oh well, its the circle of life. EVEN though she was one of the main characters. The angry people come, Vernonika hides with May, the angry people leave, they rebuild their stuff. The end. I found this book extremely empty and boring. Its sad, because this could have been a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish it didnt end this way they should make a series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was an incredibly deep book that makes one wonder if robots, eventually, can love and feel. It was very deep and addressed a lot of issues about humanity. The narrative was wonderful and I cared deeply for each of the girls and May by the end of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author should stick to writing plays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spoiler Free portion: What started off as an interesting book that kept teasing out more details completely sputtered with its tepid at best reveals, a climax the reader never encounters first hand, and an ending that lacks any form of payoff. I give this two stars only because the beginning was pretty good. Spoilery Review: The book starts off pretty good. You're introduced to the four girls who are identical except for their hair color. It doesn't take long to figure out that they're different because they're androids/robots even before you get to the part where Irene, their "mother" for all intents and purposes, puts them to sleep by pushing a button behind their ear. The author slowly teases out details about their life and then throws in a wrench into the mix in the form of a shipwrecked girl named May. Things being to get real interesting with May around since she obviously doesn't care to be careful with her words around the girls. Her somewhat intentional vague dialog can be annoying when you want answers, but it also builds the tension for when you get them... ..And boy was I let down when I got them. Basically, the author took boring, overly played modern tropes, such as global warming melting the polar ice caps and the "angry people" who "believed" (aka religious people) wanting to kill the scientists and their ai robots because they didn't understand them. Then when the "angry people" finally show up on their island, all the actions happens off screen, yet the author felt it worthy spending some time having the main character recall and wonder about the human girl's defecation process. And then...it was over. They came out of hiding and started to rebuild their burned down stuff. The end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite thing about this book is the way information was presented. In many books, background information is doled out in generous helpings throughout the book, and the plot has to stop in order for the reader to be caught up to speed. It's like, "Hold on a second. Let me explain, because there's stuff you need to know in order to understand what's about to happen." Even if the story is good, I hate this. I can tell that I'm being informed, and it feels like a brief foray into nonfiction before the story can pick up again. In The Different Girl, this was not the case. I was left to piece together my knowledge of this world as Veronika narrated; this made me pay attention, and I remained engaged throughout the entire story.  My main complaint is the lack of emotion, which I'm sure was intentional, but which didn't give me much reason to feel invested in the characters. This didn't detract from the story very much for me, though, to be honest. I very much enjoyed reading this book. In fact, I'm hoping that there will be a sequel. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 this book is lacking of something. so the book wasnt too bad, i didnt even give up reading it but it wasnt so exciting until like towards the end of the book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good preview i would love to buy it