Sunday, April 5, 2015

Blog Tour: Boring Girls by Sara Taylor (Review, Giveaway, Excerpt)

Young Adult, Noir, Horror, Contemporary
Publication.Date  April 14th 2015
Published By:  ECW Press
AuthorSara Taylor

Boring Girls on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:,%201

Rachel feels like she doesn’t fit in — until she finds heavy metal and meets Fern, a kindred spirit. The two form their own band, but the metal scene turns out to be no different than the misogynist world they want to change. Violent encounters escalate, and the friends decide there’s only one way forward . . .

A bloodstained journey into the dark heart of the music industry, Boring Girls traces Rachel’s deadly coming-of-age, Fern at her side — as the madness deepens, their band’s success heightens, and their taste for revenge grows ravenous.


It's a shitty feeling when you realize the two people you trusted most in the world are liars.
I don't make to-do lists, but if I did, today's would have gone something like this: 1. get drunk, 2. get laid, 3. go surfing (not necessarily in that order). Noticeably absent from the list: get arrested.

This books should be titled "Dangerous Girls". Or maybe "Psychotic Killer Metalheads from Hell" if you want to be more poetic (also, more descriptive). "Boring Girls" just doesn't do it for me, though I certainly see where the author is coming from with the title and I applaud the cleverness.  
I got sucked into this book. Quite literally.

Boring Girls grabbed me right from the start - right from the opening passage - and it did not let go until the very last sentence. It wasn't a particularly fast-moving, edge-of-your-seat kind of book (at least not for the most part), but it was certainly mesmerizing and thoroughly engrossing. A mind-numbingly disturbing psychological thriller that chills you to the core and leaves you feeling dirty and in need of a shower. I am yet to read a more disquieting, spot-on exploration of a deranged, lethally unpredictable human psyche. Rachel is an anti-hero comparable with Norman Bates, though perhaps more dangerous, because of her laser-like precision and determination. I could not look away from this beautiful disaster.

This book is, essentially, about a ticking bomb of a girl. Rachel is quiet and harmless - or so it seems at the beginning, though one could point out Rachel's creative writing assignments were pretty loud warning bells. She seems like a regular wallflower girl - artsy, creative, sensitive. She's a good, diligent student and a good, obedient daughter. But here's the thing, Rachel has a very dark soul.  She's a loner. She's always been a social outcast,  emotionally more mature than her classmates and with tastes and interests that only made her stand out more. Eventually, she's become the target of bullying and mocking. Having no desire to fit in and conform to others, Rachel turned to metal music. It became her "safe place", her outlet, her inspiration and motivation. But it didn't stop there. Not at all. In fact, it all pretty much spun completely out of control, leading to a bloodbath.

Boring Girls is a story of revenge and madness. Music, love, hatred and ambition.
It's not a pleasant read and I have to admit, Rachel totally freaked me out. I am not going to lie, people like her scare me. No, actually, they terrify me. She is cold, unforgiving and completely unpredictable, and she doesn't see anything wrong with everything she's thinking, saying and - eventually - doing. Her taste for violence and blood is very disturbing and, honestly, quite baffling. Coming from a loving, nurturing home, she's really not a typical victim of society or a man-made killer. You can't really blame her tragic past, her family, or even her peers at school for her desire to execute vengeance and spill blood. She's the scariest of all scary people out there, because there's just nothing that could warn you about her rotten soul and complete lack of boundaries. To me, she is pure evil.

In a way, this book reminded me of We Need To Talk About Kevin. And Rachel reminded me of Kevin in many ways, too. They share many personality traits and it's hard not to draw parallels between their stories. Also, Boring Girls's atmosphere is similarly slow-building, with a bloody crescendo ending. It's a freaking massacre, and you just can't force yourself to look away.


I had never been popular, and right around the time I turned thirteen, I started realizing that most of my “peers” were annoying as hell. I watched good friends reprioritize their whole lives: instead of wanting to make up stories or read, they wanted to wear lip gloss and have all the expensive name-brand clothes and giggle whenever a boy said anything. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted a boyfriend too, but for some reason I wasn’t willing to laugh at bad jokes or present myself as some sort of airhead to impress someone.And my unwillingness to do these things ostracized me when I began high school.
But I was fine being a loner. I didn’t mind that there were no party invitations. I preferred going home, shutting myself in my room, and working on stories or my journal or my (in retrospect embarrassing) poetry. I didnt want to hang out with my parents and Melissa; I enjoyed being by myself.
What I wasn’t fine with was the abuse that came with it. It wasn’t enough that I had no friends. I had to be mocked as well, apparently. I didnt have it as bad as some kids, because I wasnt chubby or pimply or smelly or poor. But I was weird.
Some kids who got picked on desperately tried to fit in with those assholes. Which I found pathetic. They’d make fun of a kid for having stupid hair and the kid would show up the next day with a new haircut and a hopeful look on their face, which always resulted in more ridicule. They’d tease a kid for having cheap shoes, and the kid would show up with a rip-off of the expensive brand, and they’d just get destroyed for it. But they’d always scramble around, trying to please.Whether it was to actually fit in and be accepted or whether it was just to make the bullshit stop, I have no idea. But I couldn’t respect it.Which made me hate the outcast group too.
The thing with me was, they victimized me but it didn’t have the effect they wanted it to.
One day in ninth grade, I was sitting by myself in the hallway eating an apple. I was wearing a dress I liked, green with a purple paisley pattern. One of the biggest wastes of the earth’s resources I have ever encountered, Brandi Stone, came and stood in front of me, arms folded, flanked by two of her idiot friends.
“That, she said to me,“is the ugliest dress I have ever seen.
Brandi was one of the school’s beloved, celebrated and gorgeous. She was in my grade but partied with the older kids. I had seen many a nerd attempt to take her cruel fashion advice, only to set themselves up for more abuse.
“This dress?”
Yes.That dress. It is the ugliest dress I have ever seen, she said, smiling at me. Her friends giggled and all of them awaited my response.
I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t believe their ignorance. Hadn’t they seen the teen movies? Couldn’t they tell that they were parodies? Didn’t they know that they are the sort of bitches that everyone is supposed to hate?
I puzzled this over while we looked at each other. I guess I was supposed to cry.
“I said, that is the ugliest dress I have ever seen, she repeated. “Are you retarded?”
I didn’t say a word. I was so stupefied by their ignorance of themselves, of who they were.
Retard, one of her friends sneered.
I sat like a statue. They stared at me. I’m sure they started feeling kind of stupid. I was supposed to weakly defend myself. I was supposed to snivel, Leave me alone.
“Stupid bitch. Stupid weirdo, Brandi yelled at me, and they traipsed off down the hall, where they joined some older boys by their lockers and started giggling.
So that was it. I was a stupid bitch and a stupid weirdo, a fact that they never failed to remind me of for the rest of that year. And not just Brandi and her friends; apparently they felt that my failings needed to be communicated amongst their entire social circle. Kids in the older grades who I didn’t even know shouted stuff at me as I walked to my classes. And I started feeling like shit about it after a while.
See, it wasn’t being alone or disliked that I minded. It’s that I couldn’t understand where the hell the other people like me were. I didnt just want a friend. I wanted an ally. I wanted a partner. Someone else who would get it. Someone who understood what it was like to not have the desire to be accepted by these people. I started feeling very lonely, which pissed me off in principle. I liked being alone, but I was starting to think maybe I was insane or something, because all I saw, all day at school, were assholes and people trying to kiss up to them. It disgusted me that it was making me question myself.
Brandi seemed to develop an intense personal dislike for me, which I found baffling, as I had barely said a single word to her and she knew absolutely nothing about me. And yet she would literally go out of her way to call me names, to verbally assault and mock me. Teachers let her get away with things, boys adored her, the nerds worshipped and feared her. I couldn’t understand her. I hated that I was even wasting energy on trying to, but it became a daily thing that year. I hate to say it affected me as much as it did, but at least I always kept my head high and pretty much ignored what they said to me.
It was towards the end of my grade nine year, which I had spent friendless and tormented, that something changed me. I had not gone out once, I had spent all my time in my room, but I was proud of myself. I’d done well in my classes and I had focused so much on my poetry and writing. My parents were fine with me. Sure, my mother would occasionally ask me if I’d met any new friends, but I wasn’t getting into any trouble. I was a good kid.There was no reason to really worry.
It happened at the end of that school year. All that was left were exams, then a few months away from the assholes. The school was pretty empty that day, just a bunch of exam- stragglers kicking around, and I was heading out after writing a geography exam. It was very hot outside, and as I opened the back doors of the school, a rush of heat swept over me, contrasting the air-conditioned cool of inside.
I saw Brandi leaning against the wall. Her eyes narrowed when she saw me. I was confused. She wasn’t a bully who would wait for their victim out back. I began to walk past her.
“Hey, bitch, she called. Of course I ignored her.
“I said,‘hey, bitch. You should listen to me when I’m saying something to you,” she hissed and grabbed my shoulder from behind, turning me roughly around to face her.
I was absolutely, completely stunned. Not only had I never had any sort of violent confrontation before in my life, but I had never been so physically close to Brandi. I could see light freckles on her nose. I could smell her coconut perfume. It was too intimate and I felt overwhelmed and sick.
She leaned in close, with that familiar smirk on her face, and I recoiled. I was afraid she was going to hit me I knew I couldn’t fight, and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Yeah, thats what I thought,” Brandi sneered. I knew she could see the fear on my face, and I hated that. I hated it so much that my eyes welled with burning hot tears.
She laughed.“Are you going to cry now?”
I felt the strength that I’d tried to bolster myself with over the school year collapse. My reserve of proud nonchalance was destroyed. I’d tried to be so arrogantly numb to people like Brandi, almost amused by their stupidity, and here it was: in the moment it counted the most, I succumbed. I wilted. I felt tears roll down my cheeks.
“Fucking retard. Brandi seemed to lighten up, giving me a pretty smile. You want to know what? Next year, I’m going to fucking get you. Do you understand? I fucking hate you, you ugly bitch.
Then she pushed me, hard. I stumbled backwards and fell on my ass. Instinctively I curled up, hunching my shoulders and moving my arms to protect my face in preparation for her attack. But there was none, and when I looked up at her, she was laughing.
“Ugly bitch, she repeated, and then walked back into the school.
I got to my feet and walked quickly across the schoolyard towards the back gate and the sidewalk that would lead me home. I wanted to run, but part of me feared that Brandi was watching me from the back door and would get such a laugh out of that.Watching the stupid, ugly bitch run home.


As I walked down the streets that I had walked so many times before, I tried to calm myself down. I could worry about next year at school later. If Brandi planned to get me, whatever that meant, I’d have to deal with it then. I had time to figure something out.
I hated myself for showing her weakness. If only I hadn’t cried. If only I had stood up for myself. Slugged her right in her smiling pink mouth. Made her cry. Made her afraid of me. I clenched my fists so hard that my nails dug into my palms. I was absolutely furious at how weak I had been. She’d won. I’d had the power to change the outcome, and I had collapsed.
A car pulled up to the intersection beside me and paused at the stop sign, and my ears filled with a sound that made me stop in my simpering, faltering step.
It was music that I had never heard before. It sounded pissed. The drums were fast, the guitars were manic, and the voice that rumbled along with it sounded evil.Absolutely furious and evil. It barely sounded human, it was so deep and guttural like a fucking monster.The sort of monster that would terrify Brandi and her ilk. It sounded like how I felt inside in that moment. It sounded like what I wanted to unleash on Brandi.
I looked at the car as it drove off, desperate to know what band was playing.The car’s bumper was plastered with stickers. Many of them were written in a font I could not decipher, spidery and electrified. I knew I was looking at band stickers, but I could not read a single one of them except for one: “DED.”
I decided to go to the music store and see if there was a band called DED. I wanted to hear that music again. I detoured and headed downtown, already feeling better. I almost felt light-headed.

I got to Bee Music and immediately went to the alpha- betically organized racks. There was no DED. Now, I have always had a problem with shopping in that I tend to want to hit the salespeople over the head or avoid them at all costs. I dislike their tendency to either be overly enthusiastic to encourage you to buy something, or to stare at you as though you are too filthy and uncool to possibly belong in their store. I was going to have to ask the guy at the counter about DED, and as I approached him, I started to doubt myself. What if they weren’t a band at all? What if the sticker was in reference to something else? How would I ask the guy about the music I’d heard? Pardon me, could you refer me to the pissed-off monster- guy section?
The guy was long haired and covered in tattoos, and I was definitely going to look like an idiot. But nothing could be worse than what had happened with stupid Brandi, and I needed to know about that band.
“Hi, I said to the guy. He looked up from his magazine with the disapproval that I’d expected. Nevertheless, I continued. “I’m looking for a band called DED.”
The guy nodded, his expression turning into one of interest. “Oh yeah.Weve got ’em. In the back, in the metal section.
I nodded and went to the back of the store. This place obviously kept their “specialty” stuff in separate places from the regular racks, a fact I did not know because I had never really listened to music other than what was on the radio, and I barely listened to that.
And there they were. DED. I picked up the CD. Die Every Death was the full band name, and I shivered with excitement. The album was called Punish and Kill.
There were plenty of other bands, plenty of other CDs with that unreadable electric font, tucked in the back of the store. I felt like I’d uncovered a secret world.

The guy from the front counter had wandered back to join me.“Thats a great record, he said, referring to Punish and Kill. “Theyre awesome.
Yeah, they are, I agreed. “Ive only heard a little bit, but I really like it.
“Oh man, you have to check out track six. ‘Stomp Your Skull. Its completely killer.The whole record is.
“I totally will, I said.Awesome.

When I arrived back at my house, Mom and Dad were sitting at the kitchen table. Dad was marking a pile of papers and was in the middle of a rant about the idiocy of his students when I burst in through the side door, desperate to listen to my new CD.
Well, Rachel, how was the exam?” my mother asked. “Fine. Good, I said.
“Whats in the bag?” my father asked.You bought a CD?” I knew that they would not approve. But I had never been the sort to lie to my parents. I isolated myself in my room, but
I did not hide things from them. “I did.
Well, lets see what you bought!” Mom said cheerfully. I placed it on the table in front of them. Dad picked it up.
“DED. Die Every Death, he read, pushing his glasses up on his nose.“Punish and Kill.”
Punish and Kill?” repeated my mother.
“Its really good, I said.“I really like what Ive heard of it.
My parents looked at each other across the table, and for the first time I felt a line slowly etch itself between me and them. Then they looked at me.
“Where did you hear about this band?” Dad asked, handing the album to my mother.

“Oh, Rachel, it looks like very upsetting music, Mom said. “Look at these song titles.‘Cut Gut’? ‘I Ignore Your Screams’?”
You just dont understand it, I said crossly.
“Honey, its not that. Its that I dont think we want to understand it, Dad said. Youre a bright girl.You dont want to listen to music like this.
Well, maybe I do want to listen to it. My voice was rising. “You dont know the sort of things that I like. You dont get who I am.
My parents exchanged another seemingly telepathic look, which infuriated me.
Just be careful, Mom said. “Make sure you listen to all types of music until you find something you really like that speaks to you. You shouldnt surround yourself with just one kind of influence.There are many perspectives in the world —”
“Oh, it’s just a stupid CD!” I interrupted. “It doesn’t mean anything. And I like it. So I am going to listen to it.
I grabbed the CD from my mother’s hands and stormed out of the kitchen towards my bedroom. Melissa stuck her head out of her bedroom, a look of bewilderment on her face. Our family did not tend to argue.
I shut my door rmly, not allowing myself to slam it. I sat down on my bed and unwrapped the CD. I opened the jacket and was presented with the members of DED: five tall men in black, with long hair. To their waists. They were gloomily lit and silhouetted against a purple-skied wasteland. Their faces were in shadow.
There was a knock on my door. I knew it wasn’t my parents. I could hear them talking in low voices in the kitchen. When I muttered a reply to the knock, Melissa came in quietly and closed the door behind her.
“What happened?”
I sighed.“I bought a CD and Mom and Dad dont like it.

“Let me see!”
I showed her the album. Melissa opened the booklet.“They look like Dracula. But with long hair, like girls. Why do they have long hair like that?”
“Because it looks awesome. I didnt want to get frustrated with a nine-year-old.
“I dont know any boys with hair like that, Melissa said, studying the picture.
“Thats because youre a kid.
“I wish mine was that long, she said, absently tugging on her short brown hair.“Can we hear the music?”
Yes we can. I put the disc in my stereo and pressed play.
The first track was “Cut Gut.
Immediately the guitars began to grind, fast and menacing. The drums sped. I couldn’t imagine a drummer playing that fast.The bass line was menacing and creepy. And then the voice came in. It was indecipherable. I could not understand a word he said, and there was no melody to it, but it dripped with an absolutely poisonous, cruel sound. I was transfixed.
Melissa pulled me out of my concentration.“I don’t like it,” she said, covering her ears.“He sounds like a monster. It sounds bad, Rachel. I don’t like it!” She shook her head. “Please turn it off.
As the music stopped, my mother came in. She hadn’t even knocked.
“Melissa, go to your room for a little while, please, she said. “I would like to talk to Rachel.
My sister left immediately, and Mom closed the door behind her. “I want you to listen to me very carefully. I understand youre upset.
“Okay,” I replied.
“I understand that you’re going through something and you’re exploring different things, and your father and I are going to support you as long as we feel it’s healthy for you and that you’re expanding yourself. But I really must insist that you not . . . expose your sister to this kind of music. She’s too little to understand. She sat down on the edge of my bed.“She gets nightmares. Please try to respect that what you find appealing might not be appropriate for someone whos still little.
Yeah, I get that, I said.“Sorry. I wont show it to her again.” “Thank you for understanding that, honey.” She paused.
“Now, I guess I have a question for you. Did something happen? Anything you want to talk to me about? I have to admit I’m having a bit of difficulty understanding you right now.”
Part of me wanted to tell her about Brandi, about the confrontation, about how stupid and helpless I had felt. That would make her feel better.That would give her an explanation. It might even have made me feel better too. “No. Nothing happened.
“It’s just that all year you wanted to write, be alone in your room, which is fine. I would have liked it if you’d met a friend or two, but we didn’t let it worry us because you’ve always just been so happy doing your own creative thing.We support that. But . . . I guess I’m just trying to say that if you want to talk about anything with me, or with your dad, you can.
“Mom. It’s just a CD. Please don’t worry.” I appreciated that my mother was concerned. I wanted to reassure her that everything was fine. Because everything was fine. In fact, I had hope that everything was going to be much better than before.


One finished copy of Boring Girls
Open to US/Canada
Ends: 14/5

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