Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. The book is presented in the format of a blog. Katie decides to spend her gap-year from college creating a blog to share her life with the world. Her world spirals out of control, and this plays out to the immense following she has acquired online.
Katie’s character is incredibly unlikable — and I don’t necessarily mean this in a bad way, if anything, it’s what makes the book interesting. Katie is promiscuous, and despite being 18-years-old, she prefers men who are too old for her — including Dan who is in his early thirties and Paul, her boss, who is 45. She’s also narcissistic and is fixated on the idea of being uncovered from her blog. She thrives off receiving attention, and when she doesn’t get any, her self-esteem is hurt. Her pursuit of sex isn’t connected to satisfaction, she seeks it to validate her need to be desired. She’s a selfish character and has little social awareness of how her behaviour impacts other people in her life.
An interesting aspect of the novel was Burnett’s use of memory bias. The entire novel (until the last few pages) is told entirely through Katie’s perspective — consequently, this only presents readers with an overview of her version of events. Just as she changed the names of everyone in her blog, there’s a good chance other events were also presented differently to how they actually occurred. Aspects of Katie’s character appeared deranged, so I wouldn’t be surprised if her version of events weren’t exactly true — it’s something we’ll never know. Burnett’s use of memory bias is a reflection of how easily we tend to believe people online or how we’re easily swayed by online personalities to believe certain things — when the truth is, we all hide particular aspects of our lives.
I thought it was disappointing that the novel didn’t provide closure and left the narrative too open-ended. I understand that Burnett wanted to focus on the enigmatic characterisation of Katie, but some answers or further information would have provided more closure.
Though I wouldn’t say reading Undiscovered Gyrl was an enjoyable experience, it’s overall premise was thought-provoking and it leaves readers desperately wanting to uncover the inner workings of the book’s protagonist.
Release date: August 11th 2009 by Vintage