Monday, November 22, 2010

Review - Here Lies Bridget

Here Lies Bridget
by Paige Harbison
Date: 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Reading level: YA
Source: NetGalley

Spoiled and selfish Bridget Duke, the daughter of a local celebrity, thinks that the whole world has turned against her. In a fit of self-pity, she crashes her car. But instead of a bright light and heaven, she finds herself in what looks like a boardroom. It's a strange sort of limbo where she is to be judged for her actions in life by the people she's wronged. Forced to step into the shoes of others, Bridget finally gets to see the effects her actions have had on the people around her. But will she be able to do anything about the past, especially if her apologies fall on deaf ears?

I chose to read this book because, at only 219 pages, I thought it would be a quick read.  In fact, it turned out to be way too long.

Bridget Duke is an entirely unpleasant character.  219 pages inside her head is 219 pages too many.  The author wrote her as such a horrible person that I could not relate to the girl at all.  She was cruel to everybody, including the people who were supposed to be her friends.  And she was so clueless about the effect she had on others that I wondered if there was something seriously wrong with her (she almost seems to have a raging case of narcissistic personality disorder, which Wikipedia describes as "being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige"; that fits Bridget exactly).

I guess we're supposed to believe that Bridget is the way she is because she lost a parent.  But what I don't buy is that a person can act like the ├╝ber-bitch from hell for 10 years and then suddenly decide to turn it all around.  And, to be fair, I never really felt like she was apologizing out of the goodness of her heart; she still seemed to be thinking about everything in a selfish way.

The plot was pretty basic, with Bridget dying, ending up before a "jury", and then stepping into the shoes of others (literally) to learn some basic lessons in empathy.  Even odder was the fact that the author seemed to be turning the story into Cinderella by the end.  I don't know where that came from, really.  Most of the surprises in the plot weren't surprises (well, not to the reader, anyway; Bridget was so oblivious to anything that didn't directly concern her that I felt like smacking her).  And the reason why Bridget was so horrible was never satisfactorily explained.  Many children suffer the loss of a parent, but they don't all end up acting like sociopaths.

When I started this book, I was struck by the similarities with Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall.  But in that story, at least Sam Kingston wasn't completely beyond redemption.  Characters -- even if they're antiheroes -- need to have at least some sympathetic qualities; otherwise, the character development and changes (if they come) won't ring true.

All in all, Here Lies Bridget was a quick read. I'm glad I didn't spend any more time on it than I did. For a much better book with a similar theme, read Before I Fall.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 1/5
Writing: 4/5
Originality: 2/5
Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.2 out of 5

8 comments:

  1. Aw man. This sounds like it could have been much better. I might still read it though, maybe at the same time as Before I Fall...

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  2. I just got this one from NetGalley. It does sound similar to Before I Fall. I'm bummed to hear the MC didn't have any redeeming qualities. I'll still try giving it a chance though. Thanks for the honest review.

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  3. I got this one too. Can't wait to read it. Sorry you didn't like it. I don't like it either when the character is just plain annoying. ;)

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  4. You don't really seem to like any books.

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  5. I like well-written books with interesting, realistic characters.

    This was not one of those.

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  6. I just finished this one too. I actually thought it was good--maybe I related because I'm meaner than you. :p

    I thought the writing was good and funny. The plot might not be overly original, but I thought the handling of it was. I really liked the characters, and liked the fact that when we don't empathize with Bridget, we do with the other characters. In the end though, I did empathize with Bridget even. Some of us weren't all that nice in high school (or at other points in life) and did learn the hard way. Sometimes it's good to read a book that doesn't focus on flawless characters, but instead focuses on the more flawed of us.

    Anyway, I really liked it! So give it a chance if you've got 200 pages worth of time! :)

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  7. I've debated getting this one from netgalley. I'm WAY overwhelmed with books so I doubt I will, but I may have to try it in the future since some others do like it. We can't all love the same books but I appreciate your honesty for sure!

    Thanks for linking at Saturday Situation!

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  8. I'm excited to read this one. I hope it will be a fun read. Sorry that it did not have what you were looking for. Perhaps the next book you pick up will be for you.

    Stop by any time. I have a giveaway going on right now. I'm also trying go get a 2011 Reading Challenge off and running. Sign up if you find it worthy.

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