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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 8, 2012
The List is a smart and provocative contemporary novel, and one that made a huge impression on me. Featuring themes like love, friendship, sisterhood, family, and anorexia, The List is a harrowing exploration of the judgements that teen girls face regarding their physical appearance and popularity, as well as the social pressure for them to be pretty, skinny, and flawless in every way. In this wonderful, thought-provoking book, Siobhan Vivian raises many important questions. And it's up to us to find the answers.

Told in alternating view points, The List takes place in Mount Washington's high school. A place that wouldn't be all that different from any other American school out there if not for one thing - its cruel annual tradition. See, every year, on the Monday preceding the homecoming, a certain list is posted all over the school. It's pinned to every board and glued to every locker, and it's practically impossible to miss. Everyone knows about this tradition and everyone is equally thrilled to find out who'll make the list this time. On the list are the names of girls that were chosen to be the prettiest and the ugliest of each grade. Chosen by who? Nobody knows. For what purpose? We can only guess. The fact is, other than blindly accepting the list, and either worshipping the girls voted the prettiest, or making the lives of the ugliest ones as miserable as possible, no one is really interested in getting to the bottom of it.

The List tells the story of eight girls who have been "voted" the prettiest and the ugliest. We get to follow each of them for one week (the one leading up to the homecoming party). We see how they react to seeing their name on the list, how it affects them, how they feel about it, what they think. Each one of the girls has a different, entirely unique story to tell, as every single one of them has a distinct personality. They each have their own voice, their own hopes, dreams, and fears. And the list does affect them in more ways than they could've ever imagined possible. Their stories intertwine with each other, painting an incredibly vivid picture of just how cruel high school life can be. How merciless and full of judgement. How completely unfair.

In her book, Siobhan Vivian explores the emotional and psychological consequences of being included on the list. She talks about beauty and its meaning, vanity, emotional abuse (bordering on bullying), morality, friendship, love, and finding one's identity. With her utterly compelling prose and excellent character development, she tackles some extremely relevant issues, from self-esteem and emotional devastation, to eating disorders and overprotective (dysfunctional) families. And she does all that with amazing sensitivity, not only perfectly capturing the dynamics and complexity of high school relationships, but also beautifully depicting all the burning emotions caused by the list. This book offers so much more than just solid plot and interesting characters. Filled with meaningful messages, important observations, fascinating conclusions, and eye-opening reflections, The List is one of the few books that have the potential to change someone's life. And just how often do you come across a book like that?

Inspired by real-life events, The List is a powerful and rewarding read, filled with stories that are just as fascinating as they are disturbing, and just as inspiring as they are sad. Honest, insightful and very thoughtful, it's a book that deserves a special place on your bookshelf. It should be appreciated and cherished, as it speaks the heartbreaking truth about modern-day society, pointing out its many flaws and weaknesses. I loved it. I'm sure you will, too!
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After reading young adult books like The List and Some Girls Are, I am even more grateful for my own high school experience. Here's the thing: in high school, I was the honor student who's nose was always stuck in a book. I was a nerd and proud of my nerd status. I wasn't popular. But here is the beautiful thing: NO ONE in my school was. My graduating class was pretty small, less than 120 students, so we basically all knew each other. I'm not saying we were all close, singing "Kumbaya" on a daily basis or that we all talked regularly. But we all knew each other. We all had our own group of friends, but no one in our class was considered the "popular" group. In fact, when the time came for us seniors to fill out the forms for our superlatives, mostly everyone had crossed off the "Most Popular" field because there was no one person who was popular. That category was not included in our school yearbook. And I'm always proud of that fact. I'm sure some bullying happened, but when taken in context with the bullying that went on in other schools, I think all of us were extremely lucky. That's why books like "The List" and "Some Girls Are" are so horrifying to me...because I can't even fathom something like this going on in a school.

Okay, now back to the book. When I first started reading The List, I LOVED it. It was so fascinating seeing how the list of prettiest and ugliest girls affected all of the ones on the actual list and those around them who weren't on the list. It was done in such an amazing way that there were no outright martyrs involved and no outright villians. Each one of the eight girls had their own flaws. This book wasn't stereotyping that all pretty girls are evil and mean and certainly wasn't saying that those who are not considered "traditionally pretty" are sweet and innocent and oh-so-loving. It was a unique spin (particularly the culprit who made the list that year) on the characters and allowed them to remain interesting throughout the whole novel. And I think that right there was the problem.

The problems and home lives of all of the 8 girls intrigued me; so much that I don't think enough time was given to each character to take advantage of everything the premise of The List had to offer. 300+ pages is not enough to fully delve into 8 characters and explore each facet of their personality. Sure, we're given some insight into the girls' personalities: what makes them tick, what makes them happy, how those things changed once people's perception of them were magnified either in a positive or negative way, but we don't get to completely KNOW the characters...And that's rather disapointing.

That problem sort ties in to the main problem The List had for me. This problem was so huge that I had to deduct two starts from my original assessment of The List: the ending. It was abrupt in the worst possible way. I was in shock and kept turning the "page" of my Kindle thinking "Why the hell are the acknowledgements showing up where the next chapter is supposed to be?!" I kept wondering why there wasn't more when clearly the story had not in any way been finished. Now, while reading The List, I did keep wondering how the author would end it and what ending would satisfy me. Clearly a transformation where the "ugly" girls are vindicated and turn beautiful and are loved and adored by the high school class would have been hokey and cheesy and as a result highly unrealistic would not have been accepted well by the masses. A semi-uplifting ending where at least SOME things were wrapped up would have sufficed. However, I feel the author copped out in not providing an ending at all. The ending was way too open ended that you don't know what the hell happens to the characters and you get no insight into what CAN happen to these characters. You're given nothing except for a big black hole where the next couple of chapters SHOULD have been.

So, I did like The List. I loved the message that it provided. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. I did not love the ending. In fact, I didn't even like it. And since I doubt the author is going to come out with a "The List 2", I'm left with all of these questions about the characters and no answers for them, which basically sucks. So, The List gets 3 stars.
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on April 1, 2012
I have read Siobhan Vivian's previous novel and was thrilled to read `the List'.

A few thoughts came to mind as I was reading this book. Firstly, Vivian's books are always so vivid and incredibly difficult to read (for me anyway). Why? Because they are so true - they touch the areas where I feel the most vulnerable and then, take the storyline even further - by playing out human nature's true self.

Wow! That sounded kind of deep, but that is how I felt when I read The List.

Can you imagine being a teenage girl in high school (which is hard enough to begin with) only to discover that some mysterious person has created the List. What is on this list? the names of 8 girls who have been ranked either pretty or not, in each class grade.

I can't imagine the horror of finding your name on that list - under the `ugliest' category.

However, the author takes it one step further and examines the lives of 8 girls who have been `put' on that list - the pretty ones AND the ugly ones. While you might think that the pretty ones `have it made', the author does an amazing job of showing us just how being labeled - one way or the other can affect who you are, how you feel and how you act.

I cringed as I read this book - because there is so much truth to the stories told here. The pretty girls discover that they may not be all that pretty after all and the ugly girls discover that there is more to life than just your face - actually, this is kind of the morale of the book, in a round about way.

What a wonderful book to read if you are a young adult who does not believe that you fit it anywhere. This book, while incredibly difficult, was also kind of uplifting in a way. The writing is frank and, at times, raw, which simply gives the author and her storyline all that much more credibility.
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VINE VOICEon May 14, 2012
Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.

Novels with more than three points of view tend to give me a headache and/or annoy me due to all the POV shifts. A book about beauty and how one group of high school girls perceive themselves because of a list, told through eight different points of view? It could be fantastic or it could be a fantastic disaster. Somehow, The List did what I didn't think it could and fell in the middleground. A novel with ambition to do something great and deliver the right messages to girls who could really use them fell disappointingly flat.

I very nearly put down the novel just after I started it. Third-person present tense is very difficult for me to read because I feel very few authors write it well. Vivian is not one of them. She paced the story well by rotating the girls' turns as narrators, forcing the reader to keep turning the pages so they could read on about whichever narrator they latched onto, but the way she used third-person present tense came off as bland and disconnected me from the girls. With a novel like this, readers need to be connected to the story for it to have any chance of success.

If I could give the novel stars for effort, I'd give it at least one more. It is unfortunate that girls are perceived as less attractive or ugly if they're "too masculine" in our society and that skinniness is held up so high as the standard of beauty that girls fall into the deadly trap of anorexia trying to be that skinny. These are only two of the many problems tackled in the novel and the criticisms made of all these troubling perceptions of beauty are genuine. With such a wide variety of narrators, readers are sure to find at least one they identify with and want to read more about.

When calculating in all the blank pages and pages declaring which day it is, the book turns out to be roughly 320 pages. This gives each of the eight narrators 40 pages that are solely focused on them--and that's not factoring in that the girls weren't all given equal attention. Some took larger portions of the story and left others with only the bare minimum attention they had to be given as one of the girls on the list. Sarah's sections in particular were lacking; her pieces consist mostly of her stinking herself up and fighting with her friend-and-possibly-more Milo. The girls needed more time to develop and their characterization remains static, which lends its hand to an unsatisfying conclusion.

This, I think, is the biggest issue of The List: development. With so few pages to fully develop each girl and make her feel real, the issues they're having to deal with--Danielle's insecurities about her femininity because she's such a great athlete that others consider her too masculine and Bridget's body issues--are weakened. Their stories are merely rough outlines of the poignant pieces they could be with more care and it's a disservice to very real problems girls like me deal with every day.

I do think The List is worth a read, but it's the kind of book you need to be absolutely certain you want to read for very certain reasons so your time isn't wasted. I would recommend it for someone who wants to write about issues young women face in high school and wants to see how it can go wrong in order to learn from it. Vivian had the right ideas, but her lack of development was what sunk the novel and made it appear more like an outline of a masterpiece than a true masterpiece.
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on May 23, 2016
Amazing read for girls going into or are in high school.
This explains the lives of a group of girls, battling with self-image (even the ones considered popular or "ugly"). Every year a anonymous list propetuates this list labeling the prettiest and ugliest girl in each class. This book takes a turn from being heartbreaking and a prime example of bullying, to empowering these young ladies, with a surprise you'll never see coming.
I read this to make sure it was appropriate for my almost 14 year old daughter - introducing her but the in an appropriate and manner she can learn from.
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on June 8, 2015
So first of all, the ending (if you could even call it that) was horrible. The last sentence in the book is "It was made of plastic". There was no conclusion to any of the girls stories.

Abby: Abby's story was alright. Pretty girl with an "ugly", smart sister. Her story is the only one that had an ending.

Danielle: Danielle's story was okay. I like that she had good friends who didn't let the list cloud their opinion of her. I hated Alex, he had no backbone. Danielle is better off w/o him.

Lauren: I thought Lauren's story was refreshing. I like that she was beautiful but also sweet and caring. I think her mom needed to chill out a bit. She treated Lauren like her BFF and became jealous when Lauren made friends her own age. At the end of the book, Lauren's friends do not like her anymore bc she has "too much" school spirit. Then Lauren gets drunk and misses the dance. By the end of her story, we do not know if she is okay, if her mother realized that she snuck out of the house, or if Lauren is getting pulled out of school. NOTHING!

Candace: Candace's story was okay. She was a mean girl who was taught the ultimate lesson, BUT did she learn it? Maybe, we see Candace being "nice" to Lauren when she is drunk. But things go back to normal w/ her and her friends the minute her friends brush Lauren off. We get no real conclusion here.

Bridget: I liked hers and Lisa's relationship, although the fight between them remained unresolved. Her eating disorder was a serious issue, but I felt it was lightly touched on. No one noticed or thought it was a problem except Lisa.

Sarah: I thought Sarah was gross, and unnecessarily mean to Milo. The author did a poor job explaining why Sarah was mad at Milo after they had sex. I get she felt intimidated by Annie (especially bc her and Milo remained close), but she should of dealt with her feelings about being called ugly instead of lashing out at her only friend/bf.

Margo: Margo's story was okay, until we find out her secret. She ditched her ugly friend Jennifer before starting HS. She became popular, which is what she wanted. She was named prettiest freshman. She had it all. I think her character had the most growth.

Jennifer: I felt sorry for Jennifer at the beginning. Being called ugly is hurtful, but being called ugly 4 years in a row is cruel. However, at the end we find out that Jennifer made this years list and put herself on the ugly list. What? Seriously? I'm glad that she didn't win homecoming queen. She deserved what she got, in my opinion.

I think the 8 POV was too much of a feat for this book. It needed to be a longer book or a series. We didn't get answers or any resolution
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on January 12, 2013
I enjoyed how the book interwove the lives of the main eight characters with others who had been touched, or tormented, by "the list". Mt Washington tradition has become a cruelty that is found to often in others the power to shape who you are based only on your looks. While we may think being pretty and popular is better than ugly and invisible, this story may make you change your mind. It is a YA novel, but I came upon it and decided to read it after watching what my teenage child and friends are experiencing. I am glad I did. We like to believe that we shape our child, but really it doesn't kick in until after high school is behind us. I would recommend this book for absolutely anyone....I think it may be interesting to see this shared in a classroom of 8th or 9th graders, calling out the bullies, helping both sides realize what the other may be going through. The author made an impact that I wish I had years ago...she also gave me a new perspective on dealing with any teenager I may know. Read it and enjoy it. Then hug your child, best friend, yourself, or the ugly/pretty girl you always walked by. Thank you for a book that really did touch me and drew me into each characters joy, hurt, and accomplishments.
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on April 12, 2012
Told from the perspective of eight high school girls named as either ugliest or prettiest, The List gives a extremely realistic look into the life of teenage girls. All eight characters are well fleshed out. None of them are one dimensional at all. While you might not necessarily feel empathy with all of them, you definitely get the sense that they could be a real person. Because this book is so realistic, you will dislike some of the characters and like others just like how you feel about real people.

This is one of the more realistic books about high school life that I have read. Not all the characters endings are wrapped up neatly, but that would be expected. In real life not everyone gets a tidy ending. It's a quick read that is definitely an enjoyable one.
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on May 16, 2016
Grade: C

One Word: Forgettable

Each year on the Monday before homecoming, a list of the prettiest and ugliest girl is posted in one high school. This year the fallout for the eight girls are followed including the senior who has been named ugliest all four years, the pretty girl named ugliest for being a mean girl and the prettiest senior hoping to be voted homecoming queen.

I picked up THE LIST on an Amazon $1.99 sale, looking for a light read on a rainy Sunday and would have been disappointed if I had spent more. I enjoyed the story, told in the days Monday when the list was posted through Saturday, the day of the dance. I had trouble keeping some of the girls straight in my mind due to the number of main characters and POVs. I thought Siobhan Vivian's premise was positive and I liked how she had the new principal vow view all eight girls as victims of an unhealthy culture.

The writing engaged me and flowed nicely. I wanted to know the characters deeper, but with so many that wasn't possible. I thought the ending fizzled, but enjoyed the story enough to look for Vivian's other books.

THEMES: high school, girls, friendship, popularity, self esteem, gender

THE LIST was a quick, forgettable story about eight girls, internal vs external beauty, popularity, fitting in, and a high school culture of appearances
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on July 9, 2013
I got this book because it was remanded in my magazine. I like the story's characters. I liked the story line at the beginning. I didn't like the ending. I thought the twist was good. I don't like the way the author ended the book. She just ended it. There is no conclusion on what happen to a few of the girls. It's a good book but i really don't like the ending.
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