Sunday, January 27, 2013

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
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.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

The S-Word on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

*I received a free copy of this book via in exchange for an honest review - thank you!*

I've made it halfway through and I just can't continue. This book is bad. Really bad.

Teenage suicide is a big deal. It's a huge problem in the United States that doesn't get the attention it deserves. There are some REALLY good books out there that address the issue (Saving June!) and there are some really bad ones (THIS BOOK).

The S-Word is supposed to be about two best friends, Angie and Lizzie. Angie catches Lizzie having sex with her boyfriend and the two have a falling out (for obvious reasons). Lizzie also becomes somewhat of a social pariah in the school because of sleeping with Angie's boyfriend. Shortly after, Lizzie commits suicide.

After Lizzie's death, someone writes "Suicide Slut" on a locker in Lizzie's handwriting and starts passing out Lizzie's journal pages.

The novel could have been about Angie trying to figure out what went wrong in her friendship, what happened to make Lizzie destroy it, and what went so terribly bad that Lizzie had to kill herself.

But it isn't.

Instead, it tries to be funny and amusing as Angie plays "detective" in the most bizarre ways, interviewing classmates in her quest to find out who wrote "Suicide Slut" on the locker. Angie suddenly turns in to an awful parody of Joe Friday from Dragnet and the book just went completely down hill.

One example - Lizzie was apparently in to acting. She had recently gotten the lead part in a play. Angie believes that the drama queen goddess Shelby McQueen who got ousted from her position when Lizzie got the part, might be behind it. She she goes to interview her. Apparently this girl is 'in character' and Angie decides to get 'in character' to talk to her too. Here's an excerpt (all typos, formatting errors, and mangled capitalization straight from the book):

so i think, but shelby's in rare form today, smoking an imaginary cigarette and lounging on the piana like she's preparing for her solo. (...) shelby greets me with a husky "hello, sugar. What's your poison?"

"reality," i quip, and climb onto the piano beside her. "that's what they all say." shelby bats her pretty brown eyes. so she wants to play hide Behind the Character. so what?

Drama class is a veritable free-for-all at the end of the year and i've got nothing but time. she can play the dame. i'll play the old-timey detective. Whatever gets the canary to sing.

"Nice to see ya, sweet cheeks," i say, tipping an imaginary hat. shelby's smile spreads across her face. she's wearing a purple
1950's style cocktail dress. the hem dances just past her knees, all propriety. But her attitude says floor-length, slit-up-the-thigh red satin.

"What can i do for ya, daddy-o?" she asks.

It continues from there in the awful Dragnet-wannabe style as Angie interviews more kids and pretends to be a hardcore detective.

Later on Angie and DRAKE (the boyfriend that Lizzie slept with), go to Lizzie's house to help pack up belongings. Angie is mildly upset, but mostly because of wondering "Did he use those eyes on Lizzie? Did he use that voice?". Drake, who apparently doesn't give a lick that he's in the bedroom of a girl he just banged who is now dead, uses the time to try and snuggle up on Angie and make out. I'll give Angie credit, she kicks him out, but still. Would this happen in real life?

The thing that annoys me most is that from what I've read so far, this isn't about Angie coming to terms with her best friend's suicide. In fact, Angie barely seems affected. It's about Angie playing Joe Friday to find out who is writing things on the wall in Lizzie's handwriting.


Seriously. It's not like Lizzie was murdered (unless there's a twist at the end where she was, but I'll never know).

There's also some rambling journal entries of Lizzie's where she gets emo about being called a slut and how no one really knows the meaning of the word slut and blah blah blah.

For the record: Slut or slattern is a term applied to an individual who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous.

A girl who betrayed her best friend by sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend could definitely meet the criteria of having "loose sexual morals." I don't think the definition of slut is really in question here.

If this book was trying to show us the difference between men and women, and how a woman who has sex can be labeled a slut while a man is a stud.... IT FAILED. Lizzie had sex with her best friend's boyfriend. In general, when you do that, you'll earn the slut label.

Perhaps this author's style just wasn't for me. Actually, I'm positive this author's style wasn't for me. I don't like the lackadaisical approach to suicide that it took. It could have gotten better towards the end, but if it takes me over a week to struggle through the first half, I'm not going to continue in hopes that it will get better. Because to be honest, I can't think of one example where it has.

I also hate to harp on formatting issues in a galley because I know they are not completely edited yet, but this galley was the absolute worst I've ever seen. The majority of the sentences are not capitalized. The majority of the names are not capitalized. There are constant cases of words in the middle of sentences that have random capitalization mid word. While the formatting wasn't the reason for the 1-star rating (that's all the terrible writing and plot), it did make it jarring and even more awkward to read.
1 out of 5 stars.

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads:

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