Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Rating: *** / 3 out of 5
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Drama, Tragedy, Psychological
To be published on March 19, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she’s returned home…only to find that it’s three years later and she’s sixteen-or at least that’s what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life? Angie doesn’t know.

But there are people who do-people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?


Thank you Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for the free copy of this novel in exchange for a review. This did not influence my review in any way.

Despite the three stars I gave, I did somehow enjoy this. I love reading psychological thrillers, because I find the human psyche intimidating and fascinating, and books that explore this are far and few between. Liz Coley writes a rather unique approach to this with Pretty Girl-13, providing us, readers, a chance to see what has happened in Angie’s life when she was kidnapped and held captive through her eyes and the eyes of her alternate personalities, different sides of her who took over her being in order to protect her from the dangers she was surrounded by. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people will love this, based on the premise alone.

So why did I not like this enough to give it 5 stars? I have a feeling I’ll be one of the minority here, but here are some reasons why:


There was simply not enough narrative for me to absolutely and 100% emphatize with the main character, Angie. There would be a passing sentence or two here and there saying what she felt, and then it would go back to “she did this, and then did that”, telling us what actions she did next. As someone who was confused, lost and utterly bewildered with the circumstances, you’d expect you’ll find out more of what Angie was going through emotionally through the internal narration. But because it was the opposite, it didn’t become as “personal” as I hoped it to be. There were a lot of scenes that were supposed to be dramatic and powerful, but because I didn’t feel intimate enough with Angie, it simply felt… not dull, not boring, but lacking? I truly wish that I read more of what Angie felt in the book – they simply needed to be told, especially since they come from a traumatic experience. I think it would have been better if the story was told in the first person point of view, for perhaps that way, there would be more room and opportunities for internal monologue and emotions. I wanted to feel sad and frustrated like the heroine, but I really just couldn’t…


As previously said, there were many sides of Angie here, sides of hers that took over her body whenever certain circumstances happened. To be honest, I found the other sides of hers more interesting. They were fun to read, and I actually felt more for them (but then again, these personalities or personas were the ones who experienced all the bad stuff), than the main one. It’s a shame we don’t see a lot of them, and it’s a shame that her other sides had little to no internal dialogue. It would have been cool to know more about them aside from what we discover in the letters they wrote for the main personality, because these other personas were actually the ones who brought color in the book.

DILEMMAS (twists?)

Phew. One thing you need to know about this book, it’s this: there are a LOT of twists, or dilemmas (problems Angie has to face), that after a while, it starts to feel the others were simply no longer necessary. Some of them were predictable, some were not, and some felt were simply added to make the character seem more vulnerable and helpless.

Like for example, after getting back from three years of absence, she meets two of her three best friends. The third one became an outcast after reporting to the police a party that reeked of disaster. She makes out with the guy BF, and regrets it because he already was the boyfriend of the other BF. Then he comes back, tells the heroine they aren’t really together-together, and then they have sex. Conveniently, he breaks up with the other one, but being more mature this time, our heroine rejects him. He gets back with the other BF, and both of them come back to Angie with a vengeance, as they tried to make her life miserable.

Really? Was that just necessary? Angie already has enough on her plate, and here comes again another dilemma she has to face.

Certainly, there are others, and it simply becomes too much after a while (well, it seemed that way anyway to me). She overcomes all of these, of course, and suffice to say, she would have matured either way, with or without those problems placed there. Halfway, I felt “choked” with all of the things she had to go through. Can’t they simply give her a rest already?

Overall, this is a promising read. Yes, it wasn’t as emotional and gripping as I thought it would be, based on the fact this is a psychological thriller, but it was a decent read nonetheless. It may not have worked for me, given that I expect a lot from books, but I won’t be surprised if others like this a great deal. It tackles a lot of sensitive issues that may not be suited for the faint-hearted, but come on, it’s part of life, so you may as well read about it :P

A solid 3 – 3.5 stars.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Nice Review! I still haven’t decided if I actually want to read it or not, but your review gives me an insight into the book. Thanks! :)

  2. Karen H in NC says

    Interesting points on your review. Not sure if I’m going to add it to my TBR list, but I’ll think about it.