Saving Zoe, by Alyson Noel, involves quiet, fifteen-year-old Echo, ideally named, as she is given the diary of her murdered sister Zoe and through reading it, echoes the wild thoughts and events leading up to Zoe’s death.
But Echo begins this story more like a shadow – a shadow beneath the residual, starry glow of her wilder, model-looking sister. At first, Zoe is Echo’s idol – being everything she is not: Zoe runs toward life; Echo runs away from it. Echo is cautious to a fault and brainy in school; Zoe wants to become a model, an actress, and hates school. But after Zoe’s former boyfriend Marc gives Echo the diary, Echo learns her sister was involved in more than she could handle – a world involving drinking, drugs, a sexual mistake, and Zoe’s final act of defiance against a dull town, the act leading to her own creepy demise.
The one thing Zoe did right was to love Marc, and through the diary and car trips Echo shares with him, Echo learns to accept life and self. In fact, this book could have easily been called "Saving Echo" since it is told from her "living dead" viewpoint while she reads / internalizes her vivacious, deceased sister’s diary. Though Zoe is dead, it is her verve for living each moment as if it’s the last that teaches Echo how to do so for her self.
While I felt some pages were extraneous as a result of too many characters (Echo’s friends, Zoe’s friends, including the seedier ones), Saving Zoe is a quiet book that becomes un-put-down-able due to an enticing sympathy Echo and the reader feel toward beautiful, wild Zoe while she spirals toward brutality.