Fortunately, good girls don't die either in Katie Alender's debut novel Bad Girls Don't Die. Once the story in this absorbing, page turning, heart pounding, wicked, creepy, suspenseful thriller gets cranked up, you won't want to put it down until you've reached the end. Alender creates the creepy atmosphere of a possessed, haunted house and sister like nobody's business--the best part is that it is subtle rather than obvious supernatural elements. The creepiness can just as easily be explained away as a manifestation of a mental breakdown as the main character tells herself over and over again before finally realizing that she is not crazy and yes, her sister is possessed by one crazy, evil ghost.
Alender realistically portrays the outcast, teen outsider who doesn't fit in at her school --she doesn't want to and she doesn't care who knows it. She cuts class, speaks her mind, stands up to the popular in-crowd, and regards with scorn the misfit crowd that she also holds herself apart from. She is on the fringes--at school and at home--she's isolated and alone and has built herself a reputation as a troublemaker whether that reputation is rightly or wrongly deserved. She is just as disconnected from her dysfunctional parents and in many ways from her sister.
Alexis is a loner and an outcast and that's the way she likes it ever since her only best friend was run out of town by the popular cheerleader crowd at school. But she finds solace in photography--Alexis uses black and white film and develops her own photos in a makeshift dark room in the guest bathroom. Her younger sister, Kasey, is thirteen and for the most part the girls get along. But then Kasey starts blacking out, showing up with green eyes instead of her natural blue ones, talking in archaic phrases, behaving bizarrely and committing dangerous acts that verge on criminal. Alexis wonders first if she's going crazy and then if her sister has multiple personalities before realizing this is a far more dangerous problem that doctors and drugs won't fix--or believe. Soon Alexis finds out that the only person who can help her sister before its too late is the one person that Alexis hates. However, she has no choice if she wants to save her sister from herself and save her family from the chilling evil entity that possesses her sister.
With her newfound ally Alexis begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together of the events that occurred in her house ten years ago and over a century ago that have stained it and destroyed nearly every occupant since. Before long the evil spirit's plans for the girls who did her wrong--as well as their daughters and granddaughters-- becomes apparent to Alexis, and she realizes that it is up to her to stop it before its too late. The action steadily picks up speed and barrels to its explosive conclusion when the girls receive help from a surprising ally.
By the end of the story both Alexis and the reader learn that even the popular kids are misunderstood and in the end the only thing that can defeat a vengeful evil spirit hell bent on spilling blood is kindred friendship and the unconditional love a parent has for her child. The heart pounding thrill ride of the story will outweigh the awkwardness of some of the dialog and exposition.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good ghost story/mystery.
--reviewed by Ms. Angie