Saturday, 4 May 2013

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release: May 7th 2013
Pages: 320 (eBook)
Pre-Order: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

The S-Word deals with a lot of difficult topics all at once; bullying, suicide, rape, self-harm, sexuality, pedophilia  and more. I had a lot of high hopes for this novel, and if it was written just right, it would be breathtaking and eye-opening. Unfortunately, I think Pitcher just slightly missed the mark.

Angie's best friend has committed suicide, and Angie is desperate to find out what finally pushed Lizzie over the edge. To be honest, I thought this bit was a bit ridiculous - Angie hated Lizzie for sleeping with her boyfriend, but as soon as she's dead - oh wow, look, they're back to being besties again, and Angie is angry at everyone who hurt her. I wanted to slap her - isn't it obvious why she killed herself? I know a lot of other issues were involved and were eventually discovered, but isn't the fact that she was relentlessly bullied enough? I just found Angie to be very two-faced. I think Pitcher wanted the reader to feel sorry for her, but I honestly didn't. Her stupidity just infuriated me.

I thought that the other characters had quite strange characterisations too - a bit unrealistic. I'm in high school myself, and I've never met anyone so...stereotypical, I suppose. For example, Shelby, the drama queen - she pretended to be different characters constantly, and it just reached the point of ridiculous. Drake was also very confusing - I guess he was supposed to be the "bad guy" in all of this, but he was actually pretty nice until the very end.

There were only two characters I liked - Lizzie and Jesse. Lizzie was great, and although the story centred around her, I would have much rather read this whole thing from her point of view, rather than having to put up with Angie. I thought Jesse was far too unrealistic  - one minute sarcastic and distant, the next minute in love and wanting to be close - but he was nice, and I think it was stupid for Pitcher to make him trip head-over-heels for Angie when they were polar opposites. All this odd characterisation just added to the fact that this is a work of fiction; Pitcher didn't convince me that something like this could happen in real life, even though it very well could.

I think the problem I had with this was how it was written, not the concept. The concept was amazing - every knows I love books that deal with sensitive topic issues, and I really did have high hopes for this. Throughout high school especially, people get labelled a lot of different, cruel names, and no one really picks up on how much it can affect a person. 'Slut' - a word that is often tossed carelessly about; but once it's stuck to you, it's permanent. It can change a person, and Pitcher did portray that accurately. However, her writing style just didn't seem to fit - certain similes didn't make sense, the characterisation constantly contradicted itself, and Lizzie's diary entries...she wrote like she was from the 17th century! All of this combined just made it quite false and unrealistic.

I did enjoy the mystery, as Angie tried to track down who was doing what - and the ending...well, I wasn't expecting that! That, along with the concept, was really good. It was just the characterisation and writing style that didn't do it for me. If you like books that deal with sensitive issues, then I'd recommend you'd give this a try if the synopsis appeals to you.
Rating: 3/5


  1. I wasn't too impressed with this one either. I also felt the characters were quite unrealistic. This book did have a lot of potential, though! And I loved the mystery.
    Love your honest review!

    Richa @ City of Books

    1. There was just something missing, I think, which was disappointing. But I'm glad I read it nevertheless - I love me a good mystery!