This novel starts off rather well. The protagonist is Alice, a girl of 12. She's part of the reason behind my rating. One of the unwritten rules in telling a story is don't make the main character someone readers will dislike or can't identify with. I just couldn't get to care about Alice. Her personality is consistant in that she hates nearly everybody and everything. Trying to establish sympathy is one thing, but being downright morose is another. I also found it hard to believe that at one point in this book when Alice finally gets something she really wants it doesn't change her one bit.Also this is a dark book. It's depressing and gloomy. Plus there are scenes of cruelty to animals.The writing was good, except for the repetition of how miserable Alice feels which seems to occur every five pages. I liked the plot, but the endless negativity dulled my senses. If you don't enjoy reading sad stories skip this one.