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22 August 2012

Review: The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman

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I picked up this book because it was our August choice for the Geeks Who Read Book Club.  I didn't think I'd like it, I figured it would just be about stuck up kids at a boarding school and their "haunted woods", but I was wrong.  Ok, yes, there were some stuck up kids at the boarding school, but I'm pretty sure there are always stuck up kids at a boarding school.  

I was actually wrong because I ended up really enjoying The Little Woods.  It was fast paced, had likeable characters {ok, so the choices weren't always the best (Cally) or they came off as pretentious (Helen)} but I still liked them.  I say that I like Cally even though she made questionable choices because even though they were choices I wouldn't have made (going to St. Bede's in the first place, the whole Alex / Jack scenario), she still learned from them and became a better person.  She had so many moments that she could have just given up, but she kept going.  She tried to escape (sex, drugs, drinking), but she kind of put them aside and got to work on finding out what was going on.  I liked Helen, even though she was pretentious as all get out.  I thought she was a hoot.  But, underneath all that, she cared about her sister and was just protecting her.   

I also thought it was a better twist on the whole murder at a boarding school than New Girl by Paige Harbison.  While New Girl was formatted like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, I thought the plots were similiar:  new girl at a boarding school, takes over murdered/missing student's room, becomes obsessed with finding what happened to the missing student.  I liked The Little Woods a whole lot more.  I felt the characters were more realistic, more likeable, and that the mystery was more interesting.  

I thought I knew who the murderer was, but I was wrong.  Don't get me wrong, the murderer always rubbed me the wrong way, and I thought there was something off about them, but I didn't think they were a murderer.  An unwilling accomplice, maybe.  

I was surprised by the amount of fraternization between students and teachers and teachers and teachers.  Call me naive, or lawabiding, but there were some situations I would have reported.  I jumped to conclusions about one student and teacher relationship, but turns out it was still pretty messed up (mini-spoiler?)  

All in all, I'm glad we read this book for Geeks Who Read.  I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own, because of what I thought it was going to be about, and because I thought it would be too similar to New Girl for my tastes.

Summary from AmazonAre the woods behind St. Bede's Academy really haunted, or does bad stuff just happen there? When Calista Wood, a new student, arrives midway through her junior year, St. Bede's feels like a normal school . . . until she discovers that a girl had disappeared a couple of months earlier. Some kids think she ran away, others think she was murdered, but it's only when Cally starts digging around that she finds the startling truth.

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