Monday, 13 May 2013

Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 7th May 2013
My rating: 3.5 stars


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 was a story which didn’t sit well with some of my blogging friend’s early reviews. But despite the not so promising reviews I decided to give it a try to see what it was all about. And I’m glad that I did, as a story which repeatedly squeezes your heart and surprises you with its twists and turns is definitely worth a go. 

Angie’s best friend Lizzie commits suicide after being branded a slut at school for sleeping with Angie’s boyfriend Drake. She’s publically humiliated and tormented for so long, with no one by her side she sees this as the only way out. I’m glad that I didn’t just believe everything we were told about Lizzie’s story. It’s quite easy to just hear a couple of things about someone and make your own judgement instantly. And that’s what a lot of the characters in The S-Word did. Angie had been best friends with Lizzie forever, but never spoke to Lizzie afterwards to hear her side of the story. Whereas others just pushed and picked away at Lizzie, so there’s a lot of guilt going around when Lizzie’s gone. But who is really to blame for this mess? Lizzie who had no disregard for the years of friendship with Angie or the person who instigated all this by writing slut on Lizzie’s locker in the first place? 

Despite Lizzie no longer being around I liked how Pitcher made her voice come through the story. Through diary entries and other characters reliving situations with Lizzie we were fully able to understand what really happened. I enjoyed the mystery aspect to the story, with Angie acting as detective and having a list of possible suspects of who could be to blame. Were left to unravel several stories, which showed how horrendous life had become for Lizzie. And despite Angie doing her best to make up for the last couple of weeks, some of the secrets which were revealed illustrated that there was this whole other side of Lizzie that she didn’t even know about. Angie is left with a terrible guilt eating away at her, if only she hadn’t left everyone to gang up against Lizzie, if only she’d listened to her or even tried to get her to open up a bit more. But she knows nothing will be enough to bring her back, so uncovering who was behind destroying Lizzie in the first place and bringing them down to seems the best place to start. 

The S-Word was a truly eye opening read in terms of gaining insights into back stories of characters. I loved how Pitcher toyed with my feelings and made me suspect every single character some of the stories which were revealed weren’t all that pretty. But never have I changed my mind about how I felt about a character this many times in a story. I made so many assumptions, but time again Pitcher shocked me with further revelations. The best part for me was when there was a whole messed up scene, the whole mystery of Lizzie’s story was completely turned on its head. It did make my stomach churn and think this was one sick and twisted character. I honestly didn’t know how far this character would go. But the way things played out was perfect for me, there was no fancy ending, with everyone being fine and dandy, but Pitcher left us with the most realistic ending which seemed possible. 

The S-Word was a tough story to get through, with it dealing with issues of bullying, self-esteem, love and peer pressure. There are some really dark scenes too, but sometimes raw and honest stories like this need to be told.


24 comments:

  1. Guilt is a powerful thing, but yep, Angie doesn't have anything to do to help Lizzie anymore, so I guess what she 'can do' seams reasonable enough. I'm actually very intrigued by this book and the fact that the ending is realistic rather than HEA for everyone, seems very on spot for this type of story. I wish I had requested for this on Netgalley. I hope it's still there, it sounds like a great mystery and a good psychological read. Thanks for your lovely thoughts, Jasprit!

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  2. I also avoided this book because of some oh-not-so-great reviews. Well I'm not into the whole revenge thins (I'm not that kind of person) so I avoid this things. Even though I can see that the book is powerful and makes you feel. I didn't enjoy 13 Reasons Why nor Burn for Burn so I think I'll stay away from this. Great review Jasprit. I'm glad that you've enjoyed the book.

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  3. This sounds emotional. I don't think kids now have any idea how words can be so destructive to one another. I am going to have to pick this one up for sure. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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  4. I love that you're inspired to read a book because of the less than favourable reviews! I think that takes some definite heart! Sometimes it's best when a book really makes us uncomfortable and actually feel something, you know? Wonderful, honest review. I'm adding this to my TBR.

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  5. This sounds like a really good book, Jasprit. I will admit that I was a little wary too because of the early reviews, but you've convinced me that it's worth the read. I love that you never knew who the MC was because of the twists and surprises the author brought you!
    Fabulous review, Jasprit!

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  6. Oh wow, I had sort of written this book off b/c of some reviews, but you've convinced me to give the S-Word a try. Fabulous review, Jasprit!

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  7. I have seen so many meh reviews for this one that, like Andrea above, I had written it off. But you have totally made me want to read this ASAP! I love how it sounds like it's pretty gritty and uncomfortable at times to read, those are my favorite kinds of reads.

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  8. Glad that you ended up liking! I am down with gritty and heart sqeezing!

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  9. I've been avoiding this one for personal reasons. I'm so glad Lizzie's voice was heard through her diary. I think that would be a must for this story. I'm glad you were able to enjoy the read even after seeing some not so great reviews from some of your blogging friends. Great review!

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  10. "The best part for me was when there was a whole messed up scene, the whole mystery of Lizzie’s story was completely turned on its head. It did make my stomach churn and think this was one sick and twisted character."

    Consider me intrigued Jasprit! I think this will be a challenging read in a lot of ways, but I love that you're on your toes throughout, your opinion on various characters changing from one revelation to the next. Definitely need to give this one a try I think!

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  11. Like Sara, I've been avoiding this book because it'll hurt too much if I start reading it and honestly, I don't even want to go through that pain. Glad you enjoyed it! Fabulous review, Jasprit :)

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  12. I need to read this one! I want to read it. It sounds like it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I think your review makes it sound amazing!

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  13. Oh how I hate bullying! I have this for review and I am anxious to dig in and see what I think. I do enjoy reads where I continuously change my mind about the main character. I also like that it wraps up with a not so HEA ending.

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  14. Bullying is a real issue these days and as you said, stories like these need to be told as well. I'm terrified to read it, to be honest, as I'm scared of the big revelation. Twisted characters make my stomach turn and have me awake till the early hours of the next morning! Takes a lot of strength to read such a story! Though once I get started I guess I'll want to keep reading. Lovely review, Jasprit! I'm still torn but might just want to pick it up sometime.

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  15. I actually think this is the first review I've seen for The S-Word. It's a book on my wish-list though, so I'm glad that you did enjoy it, even if some others did not. Bullying is such a huge issue and I like how authors are focusing on it more and more in their writing, and in different ways, so it will hopefully raise more awareness.

    Sounds like a unique and fascinating read- I do want to check it out!

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  16. It takes a lot of skill to make a dead character seem so present, and I'm very curious about how it was done. I don't think this is for me because it sounds like an issue book and I generally avoid them, but I admit to being interested just a little bit.
    Lovely review, Jasprit!

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  17. This sounds like it might be a tough read for me, but I'm glad to hear that the author kept you guessing as far as the characters were concerned. I'm always a little apprehensive when it comes to reading books that a lot of friends have disliked, but I'm glad this one worked for you. Lovely review as always! :)

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  18. I'm glad you were impressed by this, Jasprit. As you know, it unfortunately didn't work out for me, but I am SO glad it managed to reach other readers since its idea was so powerful. Great review, dearest! :D

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  19. To be honest, I've been really hesitant to pick this one up as well because there have been really negative reviews for this book. However, I'm really glad you enjoyed it as a whole! I love it when authors have the ability to toy with the reader's emotions and thoughts-- and maybe even sway them a little. Perhaps I'll be checking this one out when I have the time! Fantastic review, Jasprit!

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  20. This sounds like a great-read! I'm now really interested in learning more about the back stories of each character. I think I'll squeeze this into my read-list. Thanks for sharing :)

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  21. I was really interested in this book when I first heard about it. It's always so sad when a character's dead, but I tend to enjoy books where you can't save one of the characters and have to piece their life together to figure out what happened. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, but then I heard all the reviews ... so I'm so glad you like this one! It renews me initial excitement. I'm really going to have to read this one.

    Thanks for the great review :)

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  22. I originally thought this book sounded really good and like something I'd love but then, like you, I read some not so good reviews. They kind of put me off. But after reading your review I'm intrigued again! Pushing this up the TBR!

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  23. That's a lot of issues for one book--I shy away from stuff like this if there's too much going on, as things can so often go awry. It's good to hear you thought it was worthwhile reading overall, though, despite a few issues. thanks for the review, Jasprit!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  24. Eek!!! Another book I need to read this month but I'm excited to get started on it. I'm a bit scared though because raw stories tend to be emotional. lol. Great review x

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