Review: Living Dead Girl

living-dead-girlTitle:  Living Dead Girl

Author:  Elizabeth Scott

Published:  September 2, 2008

# of Pages:  176

ISBN:  978-1416960591

Rating:  5/5

“Alice” was abducted by Ray when she was ten years old.  She is now fifteen, and he has held her captive ever since.  He starves her so that she’ll remain small, skinny, and child-like, he rapes her on at least a daily basis, he physically abuses her any time she doesn’t do exactly as he wants – to the point of unconsciousness, and  he promises to kill her entire family if she tells anyone or leaves him.  “Alice” lives her entire life in a state of utter misery – put simply, she has no hope of getting out and is just waiting for death.

Living Dead Girl is a very short novel, written in sparse prose, that will absolutely haunt you long after completing it.  I could not put this book down, but I badly wanted to because the content was so upsetting.  The book made me feel so many different things – shock, anger,  sadness, disappointment, nausea – yet I could not turn away, I read it in one sitting.  Elizabeth Scott did such a terrific job making such a horrific subject into a compelling and interesting novel, and the writing was fantastic.  It was raw, gritty, and graphic but not overly or unnecessarily so.  I especially liked the style of writing – I really felt like I was in Alice’s head, understanding her, feeling what she was feeling, etc.  It was so hard to read but truly amazing at the same time.

SO, I have two questions.  First, for those of you who’ve read Living Dead Girl – I am DYING to discuss the ending.  So please, comment away, what did you think of the ending? For everyone else – how do you feel about reading a book that causes extreme discomfort? Would you bother reading something that you know will be disturbing – even if you are pretty curious and/or interested in the subject matter?

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59 thoughts on “Review: Living Dead Girl

  1. I can read books that cause extreme discomfort – sometimes I think we need to. That said, I like to read something light and fluffy afterward. I find the cover of that book creepy.

    • In response to the cover being creepy- yes, it is. The dress is obviously a nice child’s dress, which he forced her to wear every sunday to church, ignoring how she outgrew it and as it bound into her arms, until finally, when she could wear it no longer, he shoved her face into a sink. Which, to her dissapointment, she survived.

      And the ending- it may seem dissapointing or morbid to some, but it made me very happy for her.

  2. Oh, this sounds…intense. I read a lot of uncomfortable subject matter, because, well, those are the stories that need to be heard the most, esp. when they’re non-fiction. I think reading things that aren’t exactly pleasant, that HAVE happened to people, makes us more sympathetic, more understanding. At least, it does to me.

    • what kind of other books are there like this? I liked the reality of it! It was disturbing, but lets you know what you can get yourself into, and when adults tell you all the rules about “strangers” they are not lying. If there are any other simular books, I would like to read them too. thanks! :)

  3. Great review and thanks for the linkage, I’ve added yours to my review as well :)

    The ending… it took me a few days to fully decide how I felt about it. But in the end I was truly satisfied.

    ******* POSSIBLE SPOILER*******

    I think that Alice had found the peace she had been looking for. In my opinion she had been so completely damaged that pain would have followed her through her entire life. At the climax, it appears that Alice feels a calm relief, because Lucy will not be hurt and she too is free of Ray. I can only assume from the text that she does die, but if so she faces it would happiness and bravery – two things that were denied her for so long. She has conquered her demon.

    ********END POSSIBLE SPOILER********

    • I LOVED this book! But, I took it a different way. I thought that by “free” she didn’t mean die, but meant he was brought to justice. Maybe this is just me making my own happy ending, but I don’t think she died. I think it would make for an interesting sequel.

  4. Wow. As disturbing as stories like this can be, I think they’re important, too. You’ve peaked my curiosity regarding the ending….I’ll have to pick this one up.

  5. I read this one last summer (http://foreigncircuslibrary.blogspot.com/2008/07/living-dead-girl-by-elizabeth-scott.html) and I still can’t get it out of my head. The ending was really upsetting to me because Alice’s parents will never know why she didn’t try to leave him, will never know how it was her love and fear for them that kept her a prisoner. Even if she is idenitifed (by no means certain) her parents and everyone else will question why she never ran away. I think the harder ending would have been more open-ended with Alice trying to rebuild a life without Ray. The current ending was just crushing to me.

  6. I think it is very IMPORTANT that we do read those books that make us uncomfortable. We need to be aware of what is happening not only to us but to our children and the world community. I just requested this book because it sounds like a very thought-provoking and terrifying read. The sad part is that I’m sure there are thousands of young girls who can relate to this story and feel that Alice is them. Human trafficking and abduction goes on daily.

  7. I think it’s important to read these types of books (and see these types of movies, even though sometimes the graphic images can be daunting) so that we do not become anesthetized. I believe ignoring the dark side of human nature can have grave consequences.

  8. I don’t know how I felt about the end of the book – I was happy with the outcome, but at the same time I wanted to know what happened next….

    I think it is important to read books that may make us uncomfortable – because this stuff happens in real life, whether we choose to read about it or not. At least by reading about it, we can acknowledge the sad truth

  9. I both liked and didn’t like the ending. I kinda think it was the only satisfying ending possible given the author’s setup.

    I agree with previous posters that it’s important to read uncomfortable stuff, esp. when it’s about such tragic situations that go on in the real world.

  10. I’m not sure I could read this. I don’t mind disturbing content, but this does not appeal to me. But your 5 rating makes it intriguing :)

  11. I agree with Staci and everyone else. Books that make us uncomfortable can be extremely important. Sometimes they shake us out of our complacency, and that alone makes them worth reading.

  12. I haven’t read this one, but it sounds good. I read a lot of books I know will be disturbing. Sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes because they’re about an important topic.

    • I usually read books like that, too. I think it’s because books that aren’t distrubing aren’t interesting. I mean, my favorite books are the ones that make me scared to be alone in a locked house. Those books are worth reading.

  13. I think that the ending was okay, but I don’t see why the bad guy always has to die in books. It’s like the clichet ending. As for the rest of the story, LOVED IT. Every day while I was at school I wanted to come home just so I could read it. It was a disturbing book, but I HATE light and fluffy books because they don’t bring out emotions and this book made me feel Kyla’s anger and fear.

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  16. this book was beautifully written, and very haunting. some people have said they dislike disturbing books, but i think they should be read for exactly that reason, they disturb our complacency and willingness to accept things at face value. fluffy sunshiney books can amuse, but they don’t really affect the reader at all.

  17. ok so I just finished this book. I have to say I like books with disturbing content because it evokes so much emotion and you become so idk, attached, to the characters. I am a very empathetic person so I literally put myself in there position and try to feel what they are feeling. Not really healthy but I enjoy the passion and feelings that this stirs up.

    *SPOILER ALERT*
    With that said I was a little put out by the ending. I wish Ray got more of what was coming to him instead of a quick death. Although he also sounds like a victim (of his mother) be she sounded like she got hers (burnt). I cant help but think even if ‘Alice’/Kayla did get away she would have ended up like him. Probably not molesting little kids, but seriously f*cked up and dead inside. So in a way her death is necessary for a somewhat peaceful resolution. Also I wish her family could have been tied into the ending somehow. I wanted them to know what happened to her and grieve over her death. Overall it was a good read but very haunting.

  18. i’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the method by which ray is killed, that is that “alice” asked the boy to help her and he interpreted this, reacted to this, by getting a gun and shooting ray. i don’t understand why scott would end her book this way. it might have happened in real life – granted. but in a novel, where i think (no matter what we think about didacticism) there should be some form of message, or lesson. ie. what did you take from this book? i learned that you fight fire with fire and violence is the answer. when it should never be. surely, surely, it would have been preferable for alice to have been helped by the policewoman, who KNEW something was wrong.
    we should have seen alice live beyond it – a difficult but potentially MUCH more rewarding ending. and ray should have gone to prison. a much more satisfying punishment.

    • But the thing is, real life just isn’t always like that. There is not always a happy, satisfying ending in which we learn a lesson. Sadly, Jake’s actions are something I can see a boy doing.

  19. I am so glad that I found your site. I was interested to hear how others felt about the book and the ending. I too found the content very disturbing, but of course couldn’t put it down. I read it in just a few hours. I took it out of the library, because my teen daughter wanted to read it. I’m glad that I read it first, I feel it is a novel that must be discussed. Sadly, this is all to real fiction. Although in recent years there have been children missing and recovered, this seemed to tell it’s own story.

    I would prefer a different, ‘more rewarding ending’ as well.

  20. oh dearrr; i just got done reading this book not to long ago, and i must say… what a book!

    sure the story line is disturbing;
    kidnapped girl who gets sexually abused.

    but;
    the way the book was WRITTEN and it’s CONTEXT and unique choice of words; is what made the book so disturbing.

    it never went into much detail, but just from what it tells you…

    wow,
    glad i read it though.

    i thoughy Elizabeth Scott did a fantastic job as a writer.
    it’s a book i will not forget.

    also, if you liked this book:
    try reading
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

    i know the movie on it is comming out soon, but i read the book and it’s amazing.

    books always better than the movie!

  21. @#20… I think the “message” or “lesson” is that these stories often don’t have pleasant or redemptive endings. The “learnings” come through these discussions.

    ** SPOILERS AHEAD **
    I found the book incredibly disturbing, but I too couldn’t put it down. I’d flipped to the last page to see how many pages it was, and I accidentally read the final sentence. Because of that, I thought there would be a happy-ish ending. I was totally floored when Alice died. I cried myself to sleep that night, in part because I was so haunted by the whole thing, but also because I felt such release for her… I was almost happy she was finally at peace.

  22. I read it, im 12 years old and i loved it. When i was reading it in school it made me want to cry, you could feel the pain ”Alice” went through and it hurt you inside cause when reading it ou fel her pain.
    The ending was good to me i think she said it to quick but it’s still awsome :)
    Umm, it was disterbing but i couldn’t put it down cause you get attacted to it basiccly.

  23. wow! 12 years old and reading this heavy material! I’m 15 and had trouble with it. the ending floored me as well because I too accidentally saw the last page. oh man I just don’t even know what to say about it.

  24. I liked the book,yes it was disturbing but I got it 2 hours ago and finished it already,that tells you that the book was a page turner. The ending did upset me a little,more because I was confused. If someone could clear it up for me what exactly happend. Did she die? And if she did, how, cuz of loss of blood? Because I thought Jake shot Ray. Or is she free of Ray? The book was pretty extreme,but honestly was very well written, I just wished the ending would of been better.

    • SPOILERS IN HERE

      @27… She dies because she is shot when the bullet passes through Ray into her. If you reread the end, you’ll see that it says something about Jake saying “No, no, oh no” which implies that he did something he didn’t mean to do. Also, she remarks about the pain in her stomach hurting much more than her shoulder. We are to understand that she’s been shot. Her “freedom” is her death. She does not have to hurt anymore.

  25. I’m 14, and I loved this book.
    I got it in 4th period and by the end of lunch, 5th period, I was done.
    I only wish it was longer and the ending a little more easier to comprehend.
    #28, thanks for the clear up.

  26. The story is haunting and the ending, a shock. I thought she died and found peace at last. My daughter believed that she lived (it is probably her way of giving the story a happy ending). We both read the book last year and still debate about it. Glad to see other opinions about how it ended, does anyone know what the author has to say about whether she lived or died. Lastly, her parents had to learn of her death because she told the little girl her name.

  27. Oh, really? This book is for “mature kids”? We will seee about that. I am 12 years old in 6th grade. And Im getting this book tomorrow =D

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  29. I’m 14 and to me, it wasn’t that disturbing. A very good book, gives the readers different emotions.

    **SPOILERS!!**
    The ending was a shock. I hoped Alice met up with her parents again and probably end up with Jake. I thought she shouldn’t have just died like that. Probably having her rushed to the hospital and then she was saved could’ve been a happier ending. I was hoping there would’ve been a little more romance between her and Jake. Jake would’ve felt really bad after finding out that he had shot her. Something that bugs me is that in the end, Alice told Lucy/Annabel that her real name was Kayla and to take her home. Lucy was like “What? What did you say?” Does that mean that Lucy did not hear what Alice said? Does that mean Alice’s parents will never know what happened to her? That part confuses me, but overall…it’s a very good book.

    • Hey,
      Just some things I’d like to give my opinions on, and hopefully help you come to a conclusion for yourself? :)
      First off, I think the book was very disturbing, but maybe you thought it wasn’t because Alice “Kayla” was very calm about it (???)
      Also, I think it takes a certain kind of person (not saying I am that person at all) to fully understand and accept her situation. I think that a happy ending with her parents, Jake, etc, would have been too ideal. Also, about saying her name in the ending, I interpreted it so that all she said to Lucy was “Kayla” and that she had said the rest to Ray, because in the flash-backs, she always relayed the conversations, but not the exact words (ex: her real name).
      ** A note about her parents never knowing what really happened to her, a romantic relationship with Jake, etc: (these are just my opinions, but I feel quite sure about them)
      The book really wasn’t about her family, or Jake, or love. It was about finding peace with herself. That’s why, whenever she spoke about her family, she said “Once upon a time”.
      Her family had moved on. It wasn’t her life anymore. As for Jake, he really didn’t mean anything to her. He was a boy who saved her, but not any kind of love of hers. No-one would ever be able to fall in love immediately (most likely NEVER) with someone after all the horrible things she experienced for 5 years.
      I hope I helped! I just think you have to understand what this book is and is not about.

      • “I think the book was very disturbing, but maybe you thought it wasn’t because Alice “Kayla” was very calm about it.”(<<you said this)
        Yes…I believe the book was very disturbing. Sick really. When Ray first got shot and he said, "Alice…..Alice?" I almost wanted to cry. I felt bad for him. Here he had this terrible childhood and…well I can't really explain what he made of himself. But the fact that his life pretty much sucked, and he had to die, I would have rather him just went to jail. But then I thought, even though he may have had a terrible life, it's no excuse. To my real point here, I wondered why Alice wasn't upset. Why she didn't feel bad for him like I did. And then I thought about it. She put up with it, she was calm about it. She was pretty much "used" to it. Hmm…this is kind of hard to explain. … . Myself, as a reader. Wasn't fully aware of how much shit she went through, and actually how hard it was for her. And how cruel it was of him. When I finished the book I had to take a step back and I all I could say was, "wow."

  30. I loved the book. the writing was pretty phenomenal, especially when most popular books are such crap, in terms of the quality of writing. I would recommend it to anyone who can handle tough material. I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone under 14/15. I’m 15, but I really do consider myself very mature when need be. Having said that, everyone is different, so try it out. I reminded me a bit of Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson). The detachment of the narrators is quite similar, however, it is much more violent.

    *Now, for the ending*
    (MY OPINIONS)
    I loved it. I thought it was absolutely perfect.
    It wasn’t the bullshit, happily ever after ending that made you think, well, she had a really screwed up childhood, but you know, people can totally fix themselves. No. That wouldn’t have happened. Her life would have been horrible. She probably would never have been able to have any kind of a healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise.

    She was at peace, though. Finally away from Ray. That’s all she really needed. Also, the ending wasn’t laid out for you. You had to fully understand the story to accept the ending.
    That being said, I suppose it would be possible that a person could think she lived. It would take a very specific kind of person, and I’m just not like that. The important thing is not to over-analyze it. It doesn’t really matter whether or not she died. She was at peace with herself, and that’s all that really matters.

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  32. well im writing a book myself in that genre, so i’ve been doing my research on it. LIVING DEAD GIRL was a good way for me to really take a look at what i have so far and say “i need to make adjustments…NOW!” what i love was that the rape was only mentioned and was never explicit.

    But i’m still confused about the ending…did she die or did she live to get home to her family? you see i do love using my own imagination to come up with my own endings, but i do love to know the author’s mindset. ive read stories that the victem lives and the chapters after go on and on and on and…you get it. My idea of books in this genre: dont make the “after” chapters too long, but not too short either, but thats my opinion…

    ugh now my head hurts!

    • I’m 13…and I TOTALY agree. It says for ages 16 and up. But they way things are in this world today…might as well be 10 and up. lol{x

  33. oh..my..god! JUST finished the book, and I was looking for some answers on the ending. I have this terrible habbit of reading the last page of the book before I actually start the book. The last page, “I am Free.” Now when I read this I didn’t know, and soon about the fourth or fifth page I thought I had it all figured out. Simple- Ray got caught, and Alice was free….but no. The book stated that he got shot in the eye. Soon after this was stated, Jake said, “I did it. Two shots but I did it.” .PAUSE. Now…where did the second bullet go? Alice. Takes you a minute to process it. It’s kind of like a…HOLLY SHIT moment. And the ending, “I am free.” In other words…”I am dead.” Reply?{x

  34. I also loved this book. I would’ve liked to see a happier ending but it was the only realistic one.

    Have you read Room by Emma Donoghue? I think it is interesting to read both books. They tell a similar story very differently. In Room the story is narrated by a 5-year old child born to a woman who was kidnapped at 19 and held in a 12×12 room for the last seven years. Jack is happy, he is always locked up in the wardrobe when “Old Nick” comes and creaks the bed. They escape and the second half actually deals with what happens afterwards.

  35. this book sounds absolutely amazing. i normally wouldn’t go for the sad ending ones but this sounds like a really really good book. i really want to read it but i can’t find it anywhere! :( it would be cool if it had a nice ending but then again how would she live the rest of her life pretending that nothing ever happened she would be scared for life.

  36. i am 14. and me and my friend all LOVE this book. i was the most intense book i have ever read. ok, so i wan te beleive that she didnt die but it hints pretty strongly that she did. please someone tell me other books like this. i read “such a pretty girl” and “stolen” hoping they would be alike but nothing is quite like this book. i feel like in the end if they (ray and alice) died together would upset me because she never exactly escaped him. i think he was legitimalty convinced alice(kayla) loved him. and i wish when she saw him dying would say how she really felt. he didnt diserve to die thinking he was right. but she also got abducted when she was 10. so thats the age her mind is set to. so ray was all she had. please reply with similar books!!!!!

  37. This is what happens, if u read the last few pages carefully a couple times it makes more sense. When ray sees Jake aiming at him he pulls Kyla ( not Kayla as many have said) infront of him as a shield, she takes the bullet ( ” the world roars”) then Jake shoots again ( it took two shots he says) and gets ray in the eye. Jake says he touches her Side and it’s bloody then he says oh no. She then dies :(

  38. Can someone please tell me the ending? PLEASE it looks like an amazing book but I just can bare myself to read it. Does ray get another girl what happens to “Alice” at the end?!

  39. I got somewhat confused, did Alice die? Because I believe Jake shot her, but I am not sure if she survived or by saying “I am free.” she meant she is dead. I kinda have to know because I’m doing a project on this and I have to have the ending straight or I might make a fool out of myself.

    Concerning the novel, I felt extremely uncomfortable but I could not stop reading. I finished this in one hour or so and as I reread this for my project I still find myself feeling the same way I did the first time I read it- disgusted, angry, and uncomfortable.

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  41. My real name is Kyla and I have a strange obssession with alice in wonderland… my friends sometimes call me not-alice in reference to alice in wonderland…. I can’t read this book… It’s too weird…. Oh and I’m 15. Nope, not reading it.

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