The premise is fantastic, and the whole creepy, exclusive boarding-school-with-secrets setting provided an atmospheric tension that permeated the entire story. Ms. Friend really delivers the setting, giving the reader sensory details and chilling moments throughout. The setting definitely added to the suspense that builds as the story progresses.
Sadie makes for an interesting heroine. She isn't caught up in money or fame, she comes across as a very believable athlete, and she is able to make and keep friends. No stereotypical loner heroine here! Her romantic interest feels authentic to a teenager as well.
The mysterious secret society is fascinating. At times it leaned a bit too heavily on cloak-and-dagger when the reader needed more facts to maintain interest and pacing, but it was enough to keep the pages turning.
What Left Me Wanting More:
As much as I adored the setting, most of what I loved took place outdoors. The actual classroom setting was rarely utilized, and while the headmistress came across as a strict rule-enforcer at the beginning of the book, it was immediately apparent that the girls could sneak around, get drunk, and do whatever they pleased with zero chance of getting caught. I wished for a bit more structure to the school aspect of the book to provide some realism as a balance to the increasingly surreal mystery.
I also had serious issues with a date-rape-the-drunk-girl scenario which Sadie fails to report or even spend much time being upset about. That could be a trigger issue for some readers, and it certainly displays a disappointing lack of concern and ethics in a heroine I otherwise enjoyed. I also had difficulty with the ease with which Sadie went along with some terrifying things (abduction, strange marks on her body etc) without demanding explanations or, more believably, reaching out to her dad for help.
Despite some flaws, POOR LITTLE DEAD GIRLS delivers a surreal mystery that should please readers who enjoy atmospheric tension and conspiracy theories.