Death by Society
by Sierra Elmore
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Pub Date 13 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 18 Aug 2022
MEAN GIRLS meets IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY when two teenage girls’ worlds collide when one attempts suicide to avoid toxic popularity.
Carter Harper may have created an award-winning app and have a 3.93 GPA, but her successes are overshadowed by brutal bullying, depression, and loneliness. Tired of being treated as the popular girls’ plaything, Carter thinks her only choice is to die by suicide.
Abby Wallace is one of the most popular girls in school, subordinate only to Kelsey, her best friend with benefits. The ambitious poet destroys reputations without care to prove how cool, cruel, and strong she is, all while pushing down her past trauma and secret guilt.
Carter and Abby’s tumultuous relationship comes to a boiling point when Abby stops Carter from attempting suicide. But what happens when they have to protect one another from Kelsey’s harmful antics? If Carter and Abby can stand each other for more than three minutes, they can stop Kelsey from hurting more girls—and maybe become friends in the process.
In the tradition of Courtney Summers and Laurie Halse Anderson, DEATH BY SOCIETY questions how far we’ll go to gain power over our lives—and what happens when we use our voices for both good and to harm others.
"Brutally honest and wickedly funny, Death by Society is a book that plays by its own set of rules. Sierra Elmore captures the pain and power in being a teenage girl—and tells a story you won't forget." —Hannah Capin, author of FOUL IS FAIR
“Elmore delves into the complexities of female friendships tangled in the violent spectacle of teenage popularity. Through juxtaposing POVs, DEATH BY SOCIETY shows readers that it’s never too late to get up and try again.” —Racquel Marie, author of Ophelia After All
"Blends the juicy drama of Mean Girls with a sobering look at the cracks in one girl’s mental health, as triggered by the politics of high school cliques. A subtle, incisive read.” —Ryan Douglass, author of The Taking of Jake Livingston
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 86 members
i’m a simple girl. i see courtney summers in the blurbs and i’m down to read. i mean, what else do i love than reading about toxic teenage girls who are *gasp* GAY!!!
okay but on a serious note. this book. jesus.
📚⌨️: starting this review off with my absolute fav character, carter. first let’s talk about the rep. a black bisexual girl who deals with mental illness?? you are basically describing me (i mean except the bi part, i long decided to stop labeling my sexuality, but still rep!!!) definitely go into this book knowing heavy subjects will be touched i mean duh, our main character is very heavily suicidal. i want to crack jokes but i want to be serious for a second so i will. mental health has such a negative stigma around it, oh you need pills? you’re crazy. like yada yada, as if the reason most teens aren’t depressed isn’t society’s fault but anyways. sierra touches into this, and it’s so brutal and sad to be in carter’s head, feel what she’s feeling, see what drives her to do what she does. i don’t typically cry reading books, but mental health ones always speak deeply to me. i have been there in carter’s place multiple times, i’m still a work in progress, we all are. though i can’t relate to her trauma surrounding bullying, it was still nice to finally have healthy realistic rep dealing with mental health, depression, ptsd, medicine, therapy, all that glamorous stuff. also carter’s like REALLY funny, maybe it’s because i obviously share the same fucked up humor she does sometimes, but i found myself laughing heavily at things i maybe shouldn’t find funny. i’m not sure if this was the authors purpose or not but the comedic relief was very nice, especially concerning the books heavy topic. seeing her journey & willingness to find hope was so touching. i may of shed a tear or two.
before i go on, did i mention how gay!!!! this book is. fruits everywhere. someone get my girl carter a gf asap. 👩❤️💋👩🍓💘
👑📝: now onto our next protagonist (antagonist too really). abby was harder to like. i disliked her heavily. i felt for her past, but it does not excuse her actions at all and i’m glad this story touched on this. you never have to forgive you’re abusers or the people who treat you like shit. but yes, i admit, abby did get to me in the end. i even find myself shockingly relating to her, i guess none of us are perfect. she went through a lot (you have to keep remembering these girls ages, age isn’t an excuse at all, but seeing how young girls are and how cruel they can be, you have to admit it’s concerning) for her age, and her relationship with her mother was one of the things i connected with the most. she’s the definition of tough love: her circumstances made her the way she is, and you have no one to blame but society itself. monsters aren’t created. and she’s no monster, she’s not a saint either. though she still makes snide comments (it’s really her personality i can’t blame her at this point), it was nice to see her development as an actual human being who has actual human emotions. like whoahhhhh she was giving a little psychopathic vibes at first, glad we sorted that out. it was also a nice touch to have the pov of the bully. i always love seeing two sides of every story, and that’s what drag my attention to this book in the first place. her growing relationship with carter was done and fleshed out so well, and i’m glad in the end she decides to get help, cause the girl REALLY needs it.
🎨👛: we have our side characters of course, who’s not really side characters, but they didn’t have their own povs so i’m referring to them as that. it focuses on girls who aren’t bullies themselves, but bystanders. girls who aren’t perfect, and don’t even try to be. girls who don’t defend themselves or others. girls who don’t really understand. girls, girls, girls. every single one of these girls have a story. maybe they’re the hero in some versions, the villains in others. it doesn’t really matter. you have girls like mei, you hate her, then you like her, then you dislike her, then you tolerate her. you can’t really see her motives in certain situations, but she’s not evil. not really. then you have slater, you knows she a good person deep down but it’s takes something truly horrific to happen to understand her role. & yes it sucks that a certain thing had to happen to get these girls to understand their actions, but that’s how life works. bad shit happen, and with that you truly see peoples colors. there’s kelsey, the girl you love to hate. the regina george in peoples story. and yes, the hate is 100% deserved. i do not like the girl. but even in the end you feel for her, because you have to ask yourself, how come girls as young as they are so terrible? what happened to them to make them like this? either it being parents not being around, or divorce, being hurt by the people who’s meant to protect you, falling into society’s harmful arms, needing to release your anger or someone, anything, anyone, needing to find your voice or control somewhere, everyone has a story. and that, i think is one of the most important message you can get out of this. you don’t have to forgive, you don’t have to accept, but you can understand. and with understanding, you can move on.
for many people, this will be a hard book to read. please check the content warnings because even i, who doesn’t get trigger by much, can admit this book is a lot. it deals with toxic teenage girls, mental health, suicide, sexual assault, toxic parents, VERY toxic homoerotic friendships (yes i fear this needs it own warning because whew… but also 🤭🤭). there just A LOT going on here, and i’m thankful for the author for putting content warnings in here. let’s start normalizing warning your readers shall we!!!
this books comes out september 13, buy it for the gays!!!
5 stars!! absolutely amazing.
thank you to netgalley & sierra herself for granting me access to this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
This book is darkly funny, emotionally devastating, and for me, a trip back in time. I appreciate the candid look that Sierra Elmore gives us into what it's like to suffer so greatly from mental illness, and to feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel; only darkness. The themes of LGBTQ+, trauma, and depression/anxiety are so needed.
Abby and Carter are two teenage girls on opposite ends of the social spectrum; Abby is a popular blonde and Carter is a loner. They both have about the same GPA, the same extracurriculars, and the same drive. But Abby bullies Carter relentlessly. This relationship between the two girls is twofold; it epitomizes the teenage experience of taking out your trauma and insecurities on others, but it also paints a bigger picture; that of Black women and white women in America. It works well as a representation of Black women having to work twice as hard to gain the same status, jobs, and achievements as white women in this country.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages and touched on important issues going on every day, all around us. I appreciate how Sierra was able to humanize Abby without absolving her of her wrongdoings, and normalize depression and suicidal ideations without demonizing Carter. I love that she touched on issues of public schools' inability to address bullying and the generalities of being a teenage girl, while also diving deep into the trauma that so many women and girls experience in their lifetime that go well beyond bullying.
Definitely worth a read!
all i have to say is wow. i wasn’t expecting this to be so good. i saw it on netgalley and i thought the cover looked pretty, and here we are.
i don’t even know where to start. this book was a lot, for sure (in a good way). it touched on some very important topics, including mental health, body image, sexual assault, bullying, and more. the author handled these areas very maturely and did an accurate job describing them, so props to her. i love her for adding so much diversity as well! we almost never see plus sized rep in books, so it’s great that there’s some here. the mc struggling with her weight isn’t the main topic of the story, but we still see a bit of struggle.
don’t even get me started on these characters. by the end, i had soft spot for all of them, even kelsey (don’t hate me). carter was a great protagonist. she has lots of struggles that are relatable to teenage girls and i thought even though she was portrayed as a “nerd” or a “loser”, she was still interesting to read about. next—abby. abby took a bit longer for me to like. at first, she is self obsessed, shallow, and mean. but after certain events, her character starts to develop, and she for sure grew on me. out of the two, i think i like abby more. even the side characters were still likeable by the end. slater had her annoying moments, but we definitely see some growth there. we don’t really see a lot of change with mei, her development is more subtle for sure, but it’s there. i really wish the author would have touched more on her, because i personally found her to be a super interesting and possibly misunderstood character. i would totally read a spin-off with her as the mc.
overall, i thought this was an amazing book. and for a debut??? i am so so impressed. the reason my rating isn’t higher is because i personally did not connect to the characters very much; they weren’t super relatable to me. but that obviously doesn’t mean i didn’t still enjoy it!
thank you so much to netgalley & the author for an e-arc in exhange for an honest review!
DEATH BY SOCIETY is a poignant & timely novel that explores mental health, female friendships, and bullying. this book was both hilarious & heartfelt, striking the perfect tone to explore such complex topics without ever getting too dark. the characters in this book are messy & beautifully written, their pasts having shaped who they are, for better or worse, but they're able to learn that they are more than the worst things that have happened to them—they can be who they dream of, and there's hope in their futures. healing is nonlinear & never easy, but DEATH BY SOCIETY shows that it's never too late to give up. the queer & bipoc representation was also delightful to read.
Elmore's debut novel is a strong entry into the world of dark, mean-girl YA! Perfect for fans of Courtney Summers or Tiffany Jackson, Death By Society is a quick-moving story of bully and bullied. Carter is a depressed overachiever whose life is routinely made so miserable by Abby (who has trauma of her own, which explains but does not excuse her actions) that she considers suicide as a viable means of escape. The novel is brutal in its depiction of teenage cruelty and insecurity, but Elmore handles the tough topics with care and thoughtfulness. You won't want to put this one down!
It's quite hard to write a review about something so hard to talk about. Especially since I relate to it in some ways.
Death By Society is a dual-POV story about Carter, a seventeen-year-old bullied girl, and her mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. The second POV we are introduced to is of Abby, a mean girl who bullies Carter, with her own personal traumas. Abby is part of a group called POPS, that includes Kelsey (her best-friend with benefits), Slater and Mei, together they make it their main goal in school (and life) to torment Carter.
After things get worse for Carter, she attempts suicide but is stopped by Abby. From here, things change from both characters, as friendships get ruined and new (and old ones) start to bloom.
Now, as someone who as self-harmed before and has considered "disappearing" multiple times, this book was an eye-opener. I ended up related to Carter in this sense, that we both felt alone and helpless, even with all the help we were receiving.
All right, this is about the book not me. Sierra Elmore wrote something that should be read by every teenager, whether they are/were bullied, have done the bullying, or never even experienced it. In a way, EVERYONE should read this, because it shows the reality of so many teenagers all around the world, not just like Carter but like Abby and maybe like the other characters as well. Everyone can find a character they can relate to in this book.
What I hope people take from this book is that, whether you believe it or not, help is always available. You just have to look around the corner. And most importantly, it will get better. Even when the light is fading, it is still there, and it will remain as long as you believe it is there.
Sierra Elmore, I hope you have all the success you deserve from this book because, you and its story deserve it. Carter and Abby deserve to have their stories shared with the world, and I really hope one day I can say that I was honoured to read their story before the world knew about it. I hope one day to have a physical copy of it, and to remember the words I read, and the tears I shed.
Thank you for the experience, Sierra Elmore.
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