Retro Friday Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Retro Friday Reviews is a feature/meme hosted by Angie of Angieville where you review an older title on Friday.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott is an emotional read detailing ‘Alice’s’ torment at the hands of her captor, Ray. This was one of the books challenged during the whole Bitch Media 100 YA Books For The Feminist list kerfluffle. As I recall there was a comment on there alleging that  Living Dead Girl is ‘torture porn.’ I don’t even know if I read the same book as the commentor. I saw this as an incredibly heartbreaking portrayal of the evil lurking below the surface of some people.

Living Dead Girl, Elizabeth Scott, Book Cover, Paperback, Ribbon

Living Dead Girl

‘Alice’, not her real name, is abducted at a young age by Ray, a pedo who likes little girls. She’s 15 and we read about her terrifying day to day existence – where she is starved to maintain a little girl-esque body and sent to get brazillian waxes by professionals to keep up the facade. However, time is running short for ‘Alice’ as she looks more and more older by day and Ray is out to find a new ‘Alice’.

I think Elizabeth Scott does an excellent job of capturing the fear felt by victims of sexual assault. Although Alice’s situation is not common, 73% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, Living Dead Girl shows the psychological effect sexual assault has. ‘Alice’ has the opportunity to walk to the grocery store alone and pick up groceries. She could run away, but she doesn’t. I know you may question ‘why doesn’t she run away’ which is ultimately victim blaming. However, she has been groomed by Ray, this means that he has molded her to what he wants. He assures her that if she tells, he will kill her family. This is a very real fear. Especially when you have been told this from a very young age.

Further, I’ve seen reviews on goodreads where people stated they did not like this because ‘Alice’ was not relatable or likeable. My opinion, sexual assault victims are people. We don’t always like every single person we meet. Scott doesn’t make ‘Alice’ into a martyr or a saint, but a real person with faults. I wonder if maybe we have this default victim mode in our minds where we expect people who have been through ordeals to be Christlike, instead of allowing them to be human. And really, I think the real tragedy in Living Dead Girl isn’t how unlikeable ‘Alice’ is.

I think the true tragedy is how unwilling the bystanders in Living Dead Girl were to do anything. Just because you aren’t a mandated reporter doesn’t mean it’s okay to just standby without a word. For example, the ladies who gave ‘Alice’ her weekly Brazilian wax. Wouldn’t that set off alarm bells to you, a young girl getting a Brazilian? And yet, they just took the money and stood by, never once giving the police a call. Or the grocery store clerk who sees Alice come by to buy food for Ray. Or the neighbors who instead of helping Alice just want their children to stay away from her. That bothers me. You don’t have to fight off the offender to step in. You can delegate and call the police with an anonymous tip. That frustrates me to no end. And, I think Scott did a great job inciting righteous indignation on my end.

Now, as far as this book being triggering, I think that it could be. However, I also believe in the power of bibliotherapy, and I think because this book does humanize a sexual assault victim, it can be therapeutic because it doesn’t show ‘Alice’ as perfect. I believe triggering is not something to be downplayed and that it is very real, however, I also believe that people have their own internal barometers. If something really bothers me, I set it down or stop watching it. I think most people are willing to do the same.

Disclosure: Purchased copy.

Other Reviews:

Two Readers Reviews
Beth Fish Reads
Chick Loves Lit

Purchase Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott here. *FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link. Proceeds used for upkeep of site

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I have wanted to read this one but I guess I sort of just forgot about it. The whole “torture porn” allegation intrigues me.

  2. I just finished this audiobook last night! I had a similar reaction to you in being super disturbed by the people who do nothing to help her – the waxers, the clerks. The cop character is interesting in comparison. The audiobook was great – the reader was perfect.

  3. This sounds like a psychological drama. I am intrigued by your review. I can just imagine what the audiobook version is like. Seems like one of those books, where you are still thinking about it, long after you have finished reading it.
    Thanks for sharing, great review.

  4. I read this one this year. I was interested in the allegations of it being “torture porn.” I didn’t find it to be that. It is interesting that people say Alice is “unlikeable.” I didn’t find that to be the case. She was complex certainly. I was a little afraid that the book was going to turn her into a monster though, and I don’t like when books perpetuate the belief that all victims of abuse become abusers. My review is here if you are interested.

  5. nice balance of the review with the statements the book is making.
    also, i love the word kerfuffle.

  6. Great review, I really need to pick this up at some point. I think that people hugely miss the point by saying that a character like Alice isn’t likeable or relatable. Do you really want to relate to a sexual assault victim? Can you even pretend, unless you’ve been there yourself, to know what it’s like and to pass judgement on her that she’s not likeable? Really? Just the thought of people saying that kind of makes my blood boil in a way! Clearly they aren’t thinking it through!!!
    And as to triggering, yes, some subjects are triggering but does that mean we never discuss them at all? I personally think that rape and sexual assault is still considered so shameful in part because we refuse to talk about it. Discussion and exploration are always a good thing as they educate others and make people realize what others live through and when they need to act (such as if confronted with a situation like Alice’s and the thought of calling the police or not). If someone is going to be triggered by the book, they can avoid it. Don’t assign it as mandatory reading in school, perhaps, so that individuals can make their own choices as to if they think they can read it or not, but don’t hide it away either!

  7. Bibliotherapy. . . I love it. Completely agree.

  8. This is a great review April! I didn’t love this one, but there were definitely things that it did well. I think that Alice’s trauma and the mind-control/manipulation of Ray came across very well.


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