Google+ Jen Ryland/YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... New Girl

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... New Girl

New Girl
by Paige Harbison
Harlequin Teen
January 31, 2012
Source: NetGalley, received in exchange for an honest review
Mature content: some sex/partying scenes.


When I learned that someone had tackled a retelling of Rebecca, I could barely contain my excitement. I mean, Rebecca!


Bottom line: if you’re familiar with Rebecca, you’ll enjoy the way New Girl cleverly updates the story and adapts it to fit the YA genre. If you’ve never heard of the original, no problem. You’ll still enjoy this slick, page-turning psychological thriller.



(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, no worries. Just bear with me for a second. If you've read Rebecca, feel free to skip ahead a bit.)

Rebecca was written in 1938 by Daphne DuMaurier. In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock adapted it into into an Academy award-winning movie.

The original Rebecca is the story of a na├»ve young woman who is swept off her feet by a charming widower, Maximillian DeWinter. They marry after a whirlwind courtship and he brings her to live at his estate, Manderley. Then happily-ever-after, right? Not so fast. She (we actually never learn the narrator’s first name) tries to settle into her new life, but becomes increasingly insecure as she learns about Rebecca, her husband’s gorgeous, charming first wife. Mrs. Danvers, the estate’s housekeeper, taunts our poor heroine, making it clear that she’ll never measure up to Rebecca. As our heroine learns more about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death, she begins to wonder whether she’s in danger herself.

In New Girl, Manderley is transformed from a lavish English estate to a tony American boarding school. Our narrator, the New Girl (like the narrator of Rebecca, she’s also unnamed) arrives at the school from sunny Florida to find that’s she’s assigned to the room of a former student named Becca. Her new roommate, Dana Veers (As in Mrs. Danvers, LOL) is not only unfriendly, she’s weirdly obsessed with her missing roomie, Becca.

Our hapless heroine learns that Becca was a party girl, juggling two guys, Jack and Max. New Girl fights her attraction to rich, mysterious Max, but can she trust him? Did he have anything to do with Becca’s disappearance?

New Girl alternates chapters from flashbacks in Becca’s POV to the POV of the New Girl as she tries to find her place at Manderley and figure out what happened to Becca. At first I was startled by this (in the original, Rebecca is nothing but a sinister presence) but decided that it was a smart choice.

Another welcome change is that New Girl wasn't as much of a doormat as the original heroine. I did wish that the author had done more to emphasize the book's setting. In Rebecca, Manderley was almost a character in itself, which added to the suspense.

Still, I did enjoy New Girl. It was a little slow to get going, but soon I was flipping the pages, dying to find out if this retelling was going to end the same way as the original. No, I’m not going to tell you! But nice try!

Try this book if you liked:

Cruel Intentions

Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove

Lying Game

16 comments:

  1. Rebecca is actually one of my favorite classics. I didn't realize this was a retelling of Rebecca. I'll have to go download it and read it this weekend. I am very excited about it. LOVE the classic story and the movie with Joan Fontain is one of my faves too! hehe So excited about this one! And I love me a good psychocological thriller. Great review Jen!

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  2. OMG -- get it RIGHT NOW and then we will have an email chat when you've finished reading. I'm dying to discuss it with someone who's read the original.

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  3. I haven't read the original, but now I think I want to!

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  4. You know what? I've been meaning to read the original Rebecca. I just LOVE the cover of this book.

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  5. You should definitely read Rebecca. I've recommended it to a few people, and some thought it was a little slow or that the main character was kind of wimpy, but I think it was very influential on the genre of romantic suspense.
    The movie is also excellent!!

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  6. It's been ages since I read REBECCA. I'd like to compare though. So I'll chase BOTH these books up.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. If you've read Rebecca, you'll get a whole other level of enjoyment out of the retelling!

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  7. I have not read the original but New Girl sounds like such a great mystery read. I definitely have my eye on this book. I find it interesting that we don't learn the names of the narrators. That easily adds to the mystery. I can't wait to read this book.

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  8. Yes, check it out. Harlequin Teen is putting out some good stuff!

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  9. When I first looked at this review, I thought "Rebecca? What's Rebecca? I'm missing something!" After the explanation you gave for the Rebecca plot line, I've decided I want to read the book now. Funny how things become more appealing once they're associated with something interesting... Thanks for sharing the review!

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  10. I am so excited to read this book, I love du Maurier's Rebecca and was thrilled to hear that it was being revamped for a new audience. Kinda bummed to hear that the setting in New Girl doesn't play a bigger role. I couldn't agree with you more, like all great Gothic novels, Manderly was so important to the story. It was almost like a character in itself! Great review:)

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  11. I'd never heard of Rebecca until today but it's a definitely add to my TBR! This looks so good! I can't wait to get to my NetGalley copy!

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  12. I feel like I am the only person who didn't love this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I never read the original.

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  13. I think I enjoyed it way more having read the original. But you're not alone -- 2/3 of my survey respondents haven't read it. Cristina and I are both obsessed with Rebecca. Try the movie -- so good!

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  14. Hmm. I think what has thrown me off is the fact that we get flashbacks from Becca's life - I am weird in that I do not like lots of flashbacks. PLUS one of my favorite elements of REBECCA is that she is never there but you FEEL her presence in every part of Manderley. However, major points that you liked this one so much, and that you thought that the flashbacks worked well here. I think I will have to give it a chance!

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