Book Reviews Reviews

Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

✨ Book review ✨

For all my Clueless fans out there, you’ll know what I mean when I say this is a total Twin Peaks moment for me, because I feel “ew” vibes about writing negative reviews.

That said, I’ve talked so much about Dead Girls here, that I feel compelled to give my honest opinion. 

I was VERY stoked about this book, so much so that I suggested it for our podcast talk with @angryneighborhoodfeminist feminist. So, while I very much enjoyed our discussion, I’m super bummed out to report that it was not my favorite.

While Bolin presented many interesting ideas, they were just not fleshed out, and her thesis—the dead girl trope—just sort of dangles there under-explored. Simply put, there is a real lack of focus on an otherwise fascinating topic.

I think the biggest issue for me were the unsubstantiated ideas, which become grating when aligned with the fact that there are so very many quotes from other authors and scholars that, while enlightening, seem besides the point. This succeeded mainly in making me want to go read the works quoted.

At the end of most chapters, I found myself asking, what the hell was that even about?

I learned more about Bolin’s family’s reading habits, her hometown, and her personal experience of moving to Los Angeles in the throes of a quarter-life crisis, than I did about the depiction of dead girls.

I would have liked to see more of an exploration of the way violence to women’s bodies is exploited for entertainment, the disembodiment and objectification of women in horror narratives (and the connections of the “final girls” trope to that of the DG trope), and the madonna/whore complex & erasure of female identity that is taken to the extreme in the manifestation of the dead-girl “character.” Most of these are ideas are that are superficially broached in the text, but never fully expounded upon.

I think perhaps the marketing is largely to blame for my dissatisfaction with Bolin’s book. If I hadn’t gone in with so much enthusiasm for what I thought it was going to be about, I may have been better able to enjoy what it actually was.

To hear more about our thoughts on the book, stay tuned for the podcast episode.

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