December 31st, 2012

The Girl in the Wall

by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Ana's Rating

Readers Rating

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Ariel’s birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family’s east coast estate, and all of Ariel’s elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who’s dreading the party is Sera, Ariel’s former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.

They have no idea just how right they are.

Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel’s father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.


A big thanks goes to Merit Press for providing a copy for review!

It’s the the most impressive seventeenth birthday party that any teen could hope for: a weekend-long event jam-packed with fun, fun, fun and, to top it all off, a private concert by up-and-coming pop star Hudson Winters. Yes, only Ariel Barett’s uber rich family could have pulled this off.  Complete with the most popular kids in New Canaan, as well as its most infamous pariah,  the party will be renowned for years to come. Oh, but I neglected to mention one small detail: a gang of thugs becomes the ultimate party crashers, transforming its elite guests into top-notch hostages, in the hopes to steal the Barett forturne. It’s the birthday bash of a lifetime, no?

Daphne Benedis-Grab knows how to keep the action coming. The Girl in the Wall‘s plot is nonstop adventure, suspense and tidbits of secrets revealed. Plans are foiled; friendships are forged; lives are lost. Actually, this is the kind of novel that would make one helluva of an action movie. I can see it now: a Sara Paxton-esque actress would play Ariel, while Oded Fehr would cover  the Assassin (not that you could, you know, see his face due to the ski mask). And the extensive amount of automatic weaponry would of course not be a problem. Yes, Hollywood could definitely sell this plot– as if I’m not sold already.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. I haven’t even introduced you to our two protagonists yet. Ariel, albeit rich, is a tad neglected. Her father is a businessman to the core, and that means nothing short of last-minute meetings, lengthy business trips, and a child raised by assistants. Be that as it may, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Ariel is strong. And feisty. And a bit of bitch. These qualities have granted her popularity, but since the Mexico incident she’s been using that power to alienate her former best friend. Ariel and Sera have been inseparable since childhood, but best friends forever? I think not!

This makes Sera the afore-mentioned social pariah. She did the right thing and has been rewarded with isolation, friendlessness, and ample offensive remarks that describe her as no less than a backstabber. The nerve! Nonetheless, she must work together with her foes if she hopes to survive Ariel’s birthday party. And that darling Hudson Winters may prove to be a friend… or a boyfriend…

Speaking of the romances that blossom in The Girl in the Wall, I have to say that I approve. Average, frizzy-haired, and small-chested teen girl plus a pop star with a secret? Yes! Overbearing rich girl with a tortured past plus a blue-collar worker who has a penchant for defending the importance of names? Oh yes! I am so there.

What I most loved about the relationships featured in this novel is the importance they attribute to friendship. A common saying among my friends is ‘sisters before misters’; sure, dating a hawt pop star is awesome, but friends are the most valuable of all. Sera and Ariel are on difficult paths, but they do recognize this– something that most YA novels don’t.

One concern that I must voice, however, is the tone in which this novel is written. Like your classic contemporary, The Girl in the Wall is narrated by teenage girls. The alternating point of views are voiced by Ariel and Sera, who stay true to their genre’s nature by making the tone light and fluffy. Now, I have nothing against tones such as these; in fact, I welcome them into my life rather frequently. But it didn’t seem right in this context, offsetting the major death scenes and emotional turbulence the plot’s events should have evoked. Don’t get me wrong,  Benedis-Grab did develop her characters and their emotions to a certain extent. Unfortunately, that extent did not meet my expectations. She could have gone so much further here what with the pain our protagonists are facing and the hard decisions they must make, but focused instead on the action-filled plot and trademark contemporary tone. Again, I must remark that The Girl in the Wall would make a stellar movie, in the realm where such flaws barely matter at all.

One more minor blemish which I must point out is The Girl in the Wall‘s ending. It was a bit too abrupt and a bit too abridged. I’m a sucker for a good 10-page epilogue; not too long, yet enough of a glimpse into the characters’ futures to be satisfactory. I need closure. Not a complete and utter transformation of a protagonist’s personality followed by plans for a career that seem to come out of the blue, all of which is crammed into a mere two and a half pages.

The Girl in the Wall is the book for you if fast-paced plots, adorable  romances, and fluffy tones tickle you pink. And the best part? You can drop this book into various puddles, dirt, and slush without having to worry about ruining its cover; it’s already coated in fake filth! You have no idea how much this advantage benefited me, as I seem to be  somewhat clumsy. Especially in rough terrain such as buses.  3.8/5 stars!


I’ll keep you posted,

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