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The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can't, you want to die, but you don't. You won't. You just are.
This is Alice.
She was taken by Ray five years ago.
She thought she knew how her story would end.
She was wrong.
A 2010 YALSA Popular Paperback
A 2010 YALSA Amazing Audiobook
A 2008 ABC Best Books for Children Teen selection
A Teenreads.com Best Book of 2008
A Cynsations Cynsational Book of 2008
"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. -- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Scott gives the phrase emotionally wrenching a whole new meaning in this searing book... the ending itself will leave readers gasping." -- Booklist (Starred Review)
"Kudos to Scott, formerly known as a capable creator of solid, swoony romance (Bloom, BCCB 7/07), for making this story legitimately harrowing, since it would be a travesty if it weren't. While promotional copy suggests similarity to Sebold's The Lovely Bones, this is actually more of a complement than an echo; here the story is Alice's tormented, straitened life and the way she's been shaped into someone whose options have almost entirely disappeared. Most poignantly--and provocatively--the story finds culpability in the larger world beyond Ray: Alice observes with chilling intensity the blindness and indifference of outsiders to signs of her plight ("Three life lessons: 1. No one will see you. 2. No one will say anything. 3. No one will save you"), and she's right; even the policewoman who clearly grasps that something is wrong in Alice's world fails to connect that terrible wrongness to Ray. The talk shows that are one of her few links to the outside world berate their victimized subjects, insisting that "You Should Have Done Something," that victim-hood is a failure on the victim's part; "All our fault, always," Alice concludes.
If there's a broadly relevant message here, it's the rejection of that view. Readers searching to find a "why" for Alice's fate that would make her culpable will search in vain. This didn't happen because she was weak, or timid, or foolish in a way other children weren't, it happened because her captor was so opportunistic and clever that he could mimic plausibility in a way that fooled adults as well as his victim -- it's his venality, not her deficit, that causes and maintains the situation. Yet the book doesn't sanctify Alice as a gentle tormented fawn; molded by her experiences, she relishes her brief moments of power, whether it's snapping a little girl's pencil or using her sexual knowledge to control a teenaged boy, and there's little sympathy left in her for others. Her taut and fragmented narration is revealing as well as effective, a sign that the cohesive personality was suffocated years ago and that she is now, as she herself matter-of-factly states, "all wrong."
If this were a sentimental rescue drama, all of this agony would be relieved by a life-affirming final restoration of its protagonist to wholeness. The book is too honest for that, however...avoiding the prurience that would make this simply genre horror, this is searing and heartbreaking, a story of unimaginable human suffering imagined and conveyed in a way that may prod readers to consider other human pain that we daily blot out. Even readers who come for some movie-esque drama will find themselves shaken by their time in Alice's world." -- The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, Big Picture Review and Starred Review
"5Q 4P...Scott creates a heart-breaking 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 they are--come with an eerily rational explanation. Even more disturbing is how little anyone around Alice and Rays sees, how willing they are to accept Ray's story that he is Alice's father and that she is home-schooled 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." -- VOYA
"Elizabeth Scott's gripping story, one of the most talked about books of 2008, is even more intense and chilling in audiobook format...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." -- School Library Journal (Starred Review), February 2009
"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." -- KLIATT
"Scott, best known for such chick-lit pleasers as Bloom (2007), 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." -- Kirkus
"If I had just a handful of words to describe Living Dead Girl, they'd be: powerful, haunting, and unputdownable. Scott's writing is incredible. If I were in charge of handing out awards, one would be heading her way. Her book is amazingly haunting. It just resonates with feeling, emotion. The mood might be dark. The ending bittersweet, but oh-what-a-book." -- Becky's Book Reviews
"This story is fascinating in its implications. I have read quite a few books about sexual abuse in the past year, but none of them seem to touch on the one thing I would like explored: victim blaming. Living Dead Girl pulls this and so many other interesting questions out into the light: is it enough to lecture about strangers? Is it enough to teach kids their address? Will anything, ever, be enough?...I think this book brings victim blaming to the surface in the most brilliant way possible...It's a problem and this story--the story Alice tells us--opens a door to explain why logical solutions simply can't apply to illogical situations and all too real monsters." -- ya fabulous!
"This book can be summed up in one word: heartbreaking...Scott highlights our human nature to not rock the boat; like the characters in the book we often turn a blind eye to the suffering of others because it's just to messy to address. We know something is "not quite right," but we're all too often of the mindset that someone else will take care of it.
But what if they don't? Are we any less responsible, for example, than the villain of Living Dead Girl, Ray? While we may not be evil to the extent that he is; we are doing nothing, turning our backs on a situation we know to be wrong. A quote from one of my favorite movies, The Boondock Saints, addresses this sin of omission: "We all must fear evil, but the evil we must fear the most is the indifference of good men."-- Teen Troves
"I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. It's disturbing, yes. Haunting... check. And also, it's beautifully written. Scott puts you there. I felt like I was watching it all happen (which was doubly disturbing, considering the subject matter). And here's the thing... I had no idea what was going to happen. Right from the beginning, I knew that this was a no-holds-barred kind of book. Alice could be saved or save herself or she could die or (worse) she could not die. She has very little hope, tiny smidgens of opportunity, and I found myself rooting for her vehemently (out loud, alone in my apartment... I'm sure my cats judge me for that). Although the writing is beautiful, the story is not beautiful. It is harsh and ugly and because of that it is utterly real." -- Abby the Librarian
"Elizabeth Scott is to be thanked for writing a story that brings the issue of child abduction to light. As Alice says, there are three life lessons: "No one will see you. No one will say anything. No one will save you." Unfortunately, she's all too often right. I hope that after reading LIVING DEAD GIRL everyone will see, everyone will speak, everyone will be compelled to save." -- Teensreadtoo.com, Gold Star Award for Excellence
"Like Robert Cormier, Elizabeth Scott has dared to take a picture no one wants to see... Scott's spare language, as she speaks through Alice's character, is powerful, gripping and heart-wrenching...be ready for some deep discussions on this one." -- teenreads.com
"The thing about this book is that it is absolutely brutal, shocking, heartbreaking. But the voice is so true, and the writing so skilled that life stories are conveyed with the absolute minimum of words. An entire back story about Alice's captor is revealed in a few key details. I never got the sense of forced exposition. And though Scott does not shy away from the reality of what goes on with a young girl and a psychotic pedophile, there is nothing gratuitous. It's such an accomplishment, the most important part for me being that that there was something about the character of broken, living-dead-girl Alice that made never want to give up hope even as things got darker and more impossible...I have not been able to get this book out of my head and I don't think I will any time soon.
A very important function of fiction is to confront readers with depictions of the human condition, to hold a mirror up to it and sometimes shine a light on a part that is mysterious or previously left in the dark. Some stories are harsh, it doesn't make sense to avoid them. Working through such things in fiction might help us make sense of how there is evil in the world, sometimes it might remind us to be a little more careful, or to look more closely at the people around us and think about what's going on in their lives. And sometimes a book such as Living Dead Girl might just be an amazingly moving literary experience, which doesn't need to be justified for more than it's own sake." -- Avenging Sybil
"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, award-winning author of Deadline and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
"Some books are read and put away. Others demand to be talked about. Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl will be talked about. Stark. Gripping. Totally unforgettable." -- Ellen Hopkins, New York Times Bestselling author of Impulse and Burned
"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. Living Dead Girl is impossible to ignore." -- Lisa McMann, New York Times Bestselling author of Wake
Read an Excerpt (please note: this book is listed as being for ages 16 and up)
Watch me talk about Living Dead Girl and how I came to write it
The idea behind Living Dead Girl: Check it out at Simon Pulse's Behind The Book
Read an interview about Living Dead Girl at ALAN Online (note: the interview does contain *major* spoilers for the book)
I also talk about Living Dead Girl, as well as my other books, at Becky's Book Reviews