Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed

Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed

When Katie Alender wrote her debut YA novel Bad Girls Don’t Die as a stand alone book, she tied it up with a relatively happy ending. In fact two years ago, this presentation/review — Presenting Debutante Katie Alender and Bad Girls Don’t Die — noted:

It’s a book about strong teenage females who have their own problems and find their own solutions, doing so without being dependent and reliant on males. The author’s heroine, Alexis, figures out that she has the strength and intelligence to not only fight her own battles but to be victorious…not that it’s easy, of course.

And concludes with:

Yet as innocent as it is scary, the author’s empathetic writing comes down to trusting and protecting the people we care about most.

Since those words hold true and always will, how does the author manage to untie the bow of a happy ending and create even greater problems in the second book of the series, Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed releasing next Tuesday, June 14, 2011?

Actually there was a realistic and simple solution as Katie explains:

“This series is all about Alexis’s arc—who she is at the beginning of the first book, how she transforms, and who she is at the end of the third book. The first book, to me, was about trust and openness.

“This book is about compassion—or the consequences of a lack of compassion. Alexis came out of the first book assuming Kasey [her younger sister] was just kind of weak and maybe a little foolish. In this book, she realizes that everyone can stumble and make mistakes. And she also realizes that people can be stronger than you give them credit for.”

Those thoughts then evolved into this From Bad to Cursed synopsis:

Alexis Warren is totally the last girl you’d expect to sell her soul.

She already has everything she needs—an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit. She’s is thrilled and relieved when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs.

So, yeah, it’s a little strange how fast the girls in the Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular… but playing with the paranormal is what got Kasey locked up last year—she must know better than to mess with the dark side again… right?

Um, not so much. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Not trusting Kasey to fix the situation herself, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

Faster than you can say “J. Crew,” Alexis has forgotten why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn’t to destroy Aralt… why would she hurt someone who gives her so much—and asks for so little in return?

Although this novel can be gory and “gooey,” its true horror comes from Aralt’s supernatural curse/blessing. Given the opportunity to be perfect, to be successful, to be golden might tempt anyone at any age, but how acquiescent would a teenage girl be? And, while Alexis still maintains most of the mental strength she possessed in the first book, her emotional convictions falter now.

Even more diabolically delicious is the adult character — also “charmed” by Aralt’s oath. She may, in fact, remind readers of any number of real life people seemingly leading a golden life. Have those “fortunate” ones — who have it all — made a pact? Perhaps. Yet they too do crumble and fall….even harder than most.

Katie understands how self-destructive this can be, saying:

“I think a lot of people sell their souls for success—look at men like Bernie Madoff, whose own son committed suicide out of shame and despair. In every industry you’ll find people willing to trade tiny pieces of their humanity for success and recognition. The sad thing is, they do it of their own accord.”

Which is why she shares her feelings through writings and speech:

“One thing I try to emphasize if I’m talking to teens or aspiring writers is that you can’t go by the world’s definition of success. Look at all of the wealthy, beautiful, famous people whose lives end up in ruins. It’s so easy to be tempted by what someone else has—but often those people are trapped in miserable existences. Money, fame, Oscars, Pulitzers—none of it means anything if you can’t look yourself in the eye every morning.”

Without giving away any *spoilers*, Alexis does find it difficult to look herself in the eye every morning. For, in this book, the character’s healthy self-confidence has been replaced by over-confidence based on building herself up by belittling others. Yes she’s earned success, but she’s a teenager who is still growing and in need of understanding her own weaknesses. Despite Aralt’s “gifts,” Alexis is far from perfect. However, once she recognizes her mistakes, can she be strong enough to correct them to save herself, her sister, and others?

Hmm, that answer may be obvious by knowing there’s a book three. Still that doesn’t diminish the thrill and fun of the heart-pounding From Bad to Cursed and its message of compassion. Alexis must learn to understand what her sister really needs, rather then judging and deciding for her. Next Tuesday, June 14th in bookstores/online retailers, her lonely, frightening, and chillingly profound journey begins. It’s a great, entertaining read. Enjoy….with compassion!

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

25 thoughts on “Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed

  1. Ooo, I love what Katie has to say about people trading little bits of their humanity for a definition of success that may not mean anything. It’s so true, and so unfortunate. I love that that theme is what drives this story. How wonderfully deep.

  2. What an interesting plot twist. Sounds good for YA where readers are more willing to take the plot wherever it wants to go.

  3. Bad girls don’t die scared the pants off me! Can’t wait to be drawn in deeper into Alexis’s life, and see what is in store for her and the gang!

  4. As an aspiring YA author, I stuggle with the defination of success and what that will mean to my family. Sounds like a good story to share those fears with my teenagers.

  5. I loved the first one. It scared me. I can’t read it in my own room after dark. But I can’t wait for the second one.

  6. I loved the first book and I can’t wait for the second book to come out! No other book seems good compared to Katie Alender’s work. All of her ideas just seem like they would make such a great book! And the charactors are amazing too! I can’t wait for the next book!!!!

  7. Oh man, I loved this background information you put together! It really helped me see more into the story’s character(s) and the reason Katie chose the elements to add into her series.

    “Bad Girls Don’t Die” was superb, probably placed in my top three series of all time. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of the second in this trilogy, and this gave me a great shot at getting to read it early! 😀

  8. Sounds scary and so, so good! Messing with spirits is never a good idea really, but it does make for a great storyline. I’m interested to see how compassion fits into all of this… And I am also curious about the direction that the third book is going to take. If the first is about trust and the second about compassion, I wonder what the third one could be about…

    (Please only include me in the drawing if it’s international. Just so you know and I don’t mess up things for you!)

  9. I loved the first book. It was so full of suspense! I’ve bought two copies so far because they keep disappearing out of my classroom! I’m excited about the next book.

  10. This is outside what I usually would pick up to read, but it sounds interesting – thanks for the review.

  11. i read the first book bad girls dont lie and it was amazing i am going to read from bad to cursed i can not wait !!!

  12. Omigoshies! This book sounds spooky- i’m not sure. But i absolutely ADORE
    Bad Girls don’t die, it had me so scared! 😀 I love thrills, but sometimes I just can’t handle it……..

    Please let me know how the book was- i’m counting on you guys.

  13. um? fisrt of all why did you use my name? and second, I was asking for the summary in mid-school terms, and watch your language ;(

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