Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

December 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm 1 comment

scottThere aren’t many books you will find as emotionally challenging as this gripping, heart-wrenching story of child abduction and sexual and physical abuse. It is a book you don’t want to read written in a style that you can’t resist. With taut ease and spare mechanical language, Scott lays out cold and indifferent sentences the way a mason deftly, methodically sets down bricks. Spellbound by the process, you don’t notice the wall form around you, or how it closes you in until it’s too late and you feel caught and hopeless until it hurts.  Just like Alice.

Alice has spent the five years since her abduction yearning for freedom from her nightmare, but terrified of the potential consequences of her escape – that her family will die, just like the family of the girl who preceded Alice as a sexual captive. Now a maturing fifteen-year-old and assiting her abductor find a new, younger victim, Alice knows that soon, at last, she will be free. Or dead. Which seems an acceptable alternative to the painful series of deprivations, threats, manipulations and abuses that comprise her life, such as it is.  For really, she is emotionally dead.Living Dead Girl offers insight, if no answers, into headlines that are all-too-familiar: Elizabeth Smart in Utah, or the woman in Austria kept captive for 24 years by her father, or countless other abductions in the news. Why do the victims stay and how is it that they are so completely controlled? How does the victim endure?


Fear is a powerful attraction for many adolescent readers (who love Koontz, King, Rice) and this book will appeal to those same mature teen readers.  While reading it I thought of the teen girls who love true crime stories and devour books about Jeffery Dahmer or Ted Bundy and even pass around The Executioner’s Song. These are not YA titles, but do have huge appeal to a segment of teen readers.  There have not been many attempts in YA publishing to explore the horror behind the bleakest headlines (i can only think of Cormier’s Tenderness) and it can be unsettling to librarians concerned about the availability of this title for younger teens.  It is my experience that books like this, such as 13 Reasons Why, the recent book about teen suicide, find their own audience by word of mouth among curious teen readers.  

What do you think?  Leave comments… 

John WLS


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. MysteryBlog  |  December 22, 2009 at 6:16 am

    I just finished this book…found it very disturbing yet eye-opening to what goes on towards the innocent children that no one knows about until it’s too late. I was very surprised this was considered suitable for teens 16 and up…


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