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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson

New Girl

New Girl - Paige Harbison This one did not work for me. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca is one of my all-time favourite books, and the elements I feel that made it such a powerful book are wholly missing from Harbison’s adaptation. While Rebecca’s lingering presence was chillingly palpable in DuMaurier’s novel, her New Girl counterpart – Becca – has all the menace of a Bratz doll. (Creepy, but not in the way you’d think). Similarly, the supporting character fall flat in this retelling: Max is entirely forgettable and doesn’t produce any of the conflict in the reader as does Maxim de Winter, and Dana Veers is a cartoonishly hysterical Mrs Danvers. Essentially, while the basic plot of New Girl is transplanted into a modern North American setting, none of weight and resonance of Rebecca has been retained. What should be disturbing is merely histrionic, mean girl shenanigans and cheap thrills by means of a lot of sex and drinking. And no, it’s not the beer pong and casual hook ups I find offensive – I really don’t – it’s the fact that the author seems to have attempted to soften up the original story into a sort of Rebecca-for-The-Gossip-Girl-Generation, which if I find kind of insulting. The protagonist is much more assertive and forthright than her predecessor, which results in she (New Girl)her name is revealed at the end of the book, unlike in Rebecca and Becca wrestling for the narrative so we get two insipid characters as opposed to two points of stark polarity. Also, giving Becca a voice actually results in undermining much of the power she wielded in Rebecca. Rather than being a largely unknown quantity, Becca’s threat is almost instantly rendered ineffectual by the attempt to “explain” her, and why she acts the way she does. Perhaps it was Harbison’s intention to point out that Becca is not an entirely unsympathetic character, to reveal the reason for her manipulative and messed up behaviour – but it isn’t handled particularly well, especially considering the heavy content of her backstory. Rape treated as a mere plot device really bothers me. Further, in what seems to be an effort to make Max a more appealing love interest, (and spoiler warning here but sorry I’m not sorry) Harbison chooses not to have him carry out Maxim’s heinous actions. It’s okay to like him! He’s not a murderer! Unless he bores you to death, which is entirely possible.Is it unnecessarily harsh to measure New Girl by holding it up against Rebecca? Should I be weighing it on its own merits? I still don’t believe my opinion would alter very much. Harbison’s writing is accessible and fluid, but the story itself is let down by the characters. Even if I didn’t know Becca was Rebecca and New Girl was the new Mrs de Winter, I’d find it difficult to feel particularly invested in their melodramatic and petty story. There’s a lot to work with in the novel, there are several complex themes here, but none of them are given adequately considered treatment and are left basically unexplored.