The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist.
Page Count: 240
Published: February 21, 2013.
Published by: Dutton Juvenile.
Source: Won from The Midnight Garden. Thank you!
Four nearly identical girls on a desert island. An unexpected new arrival. A gently warped near future where nothing is quite as it seems.
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.
Sly and unsettling, Gordon Dahlquist’s timeless and evocative storytelling blurs the lines between contemporary and sci-fi with a story that is sure to linger in readers’ minds long after the final page has been turned.
Every so often a book comes along that you struggle to get through. Unfortunately, this was one of thise for me for a few different reasons. I was tempted along the way to just DNF it, but only chose to stick with it because there was a lot hidden from readers that I wanted to see revealed and explained. Needless to say I was not impressed when much of it stayed hidden and I felt like I stuck with the book for no reason.
This book really went wrong in two areas for me. First of all, I found it dull. The four identical girls were so similar (identical is right) in every way that I barely remembered their names upon closing the book (good thing they're in the blurb). Because of the nature of the girls, there isn't much to separate them from one another. They have no real personality or character traits besides a small sense of curiosity that is easily pushed aside in favour of following their schedule and rules. Even worse, they didn't really DO anything. The majority of the novel was spent with them going about their routine, day after day. Even when May, the mysterious arrival promised in the blurb, shows up, they simply try their best to integrate her into their routine and are baffled when she struggles. It was very dull and I didn't really understand the point of the story.
This leads me to my second issue with the novel: it made me feel dumb. I felt like because I found it so boring and uninspiring, I was probably missing something important that was making some philosophical point about life or people or something. It really felt like there was supposed to be a point or a message to the monotonous story, but I just wasn't seeing it. I like to think I am not a dumb person, and it's not very often that books make me feel that way, so this one just really rubbed me the wrong way in that sense.
Honestly, this was just not the book for me. I struggled with the repetitive and slow plot and the almost indistinguishable characters, and was left frustrated by an ending that gives you nothing.