The plot of Great Expectations has always fascinated me, so when I realized that I Am Her Revenge was going to be a contemporary YA reimagining with the character of Estella narrating, I began counting down the days to its release. I wasn’t disappointed. If you haven’t read the classic coming of age tale, you can still enjoy this book about a girl who has been raised to be a ruthless heartbreaker in the name of revenge.
Vivian has been groomed all her life for this moment. She has had practice runs with practice boys and perfected the art of becoming whoever you want her to be, all in the name of getting revenge on the man who broke her mother’s heart. Ben is her target, the son of the man who crushed her mother with his cruelty. All she has to do is play her cards right and everything she has worked for will be achieved, but as the pressure mounts and a boy from her past resurfaces, Vivian begins to question the plan her mother has spent the past seventeen years constructing. Set on the grounds of an elite private school in the isolated moors of England, this book brings to a new generation the story of a perfectly honed weapon wielded by a woman wronged. Vivian is the protagonist you love to hate, and she is proud of that fact. Her mother’s mantras about weakness are deeply ingrained, and she has little conscience about manipulating everyone she encounters. Her transformation from femme fatal to a character that readers will empathize with is seamless and perhaps the biggest manipulation of all. The secondary characters are much less dynamic, which is expected in a book with such a strong narrative personality, but both main male characters come across as a little too good. The plot has some surprises in store, even for those who know the original work. Most readers will see the big twist coming from a mile away, but it was pretty interesting to see how the author chose to stage the climax, and I was content with the resolution. There were times when the pacing slowed, but it was part of the plot and a consequence of the limited setting, so it wasn’t detrimental to my enjoyment. The motives behind the original story were a little weak to begin with, and the motives in this book are only slightly better – a little hard to swallow for the practical reader in me. Overall, I enjoyed this book and devoured it in a few hours. If you are a fan of Dicken’s Great Expectations (not the purists, though) or if you just like a protagonist you can love to hate (Gone Girl, anyone?), this is a book you will probably enjoy. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.