Ever since she had asked her parents to go to a boarding school [a side effect of reading Harry Potter], her parents had been applying to Manderley Academy on her behalf. In her final year she gets accepted and she leaves her comfortable life and best friends behind. However once she is reaches the school, she realizes that she had taken the place of Becca Normandy. Becca was the most popular girl in the school who went missing at the end of last year. She promptly finds herself dubbed as the ‘New Girl’ and finds herself constantly compared to Becca. But as things would have it, she finds herself attracted to the handsome Max only to realize that he is off limits as he was Becca’s boyfriend.
The story is alternately told from Becca & New Girl’s point of view. Last year Becca had been the ‘New Girl’, but through her chapter we come to know how she managed to become Becca Normandy, the most popular girl in Manderley. While in the other chapters we find out how the other girl is forced to be the ‘New girl’ who came in Becca’s place but would never be like Becca. So much so that we are not told her name until the very last page of the book…
The characters in this book are all very complex. The New Girl seems to be the simplest person around and yet she has her own insecurities. The way she is treated throughout the school year seemed a bit extreme to me but then I guess we all tend to be a bit extreme and obsessed about something at that age and students of Manderley had chosen to be obsessive about Becca. Becca had her own secrets and compulsively lied to her friends. Max & Johnny are cleverly manipulated by Becca, yet they are the only ones who are not mean to the New Girl. Still there are times when I didn’t like either of the boys. Johnny’s obsession with Becca while she was dating Max was a bit irritating. On the other hand, Max didn’t really treat the New Girl fairly because of his experience with Becca.
But I feel that the Genius of this work lies in two aspects. One, the author not telling us the name of the protagonist until the very end as that helped set her identity as the ‘New Girl’. Second, the alternating POV created a clash among the New girl and Becca as they both dealt with the same situation differently thus giving us an even better idea about their different personalities.
I was a bit put off with the paranormal twist and the too much partying at the school. I mean really, there are secret parties in boarding schools but not as much as in Manderley! Still the book felt realistic till the twist in the end.
Anyway, overall it’s a brilliant book. Go give it a try!