Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Short Reaction: AHHH, SO GOOD/FUNNY. Totally going to pick the next one up!
Blurb provided by Goodreads: Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne could care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate, Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.
I was pleasantly surprised to have loved this so much. I do owe it to Khanh, because without her review, I would have never given this book a second thought.
The story takes place at a boarding school (my favourite setting because my parents loathe the idea of sending me somewhere else to live, so naturally it’s become a fantasy of mine) in New England where politicians and public figures send their kids to. We follow Anne Dowling, a Manhattanite (is that a real term or?) who was recently expelled from her Prep School in the Upper East Side. She is Queen B, smart, funny and incredibly resourceful. She is NOT your damsel in distress, and it is SO REFRESHING. She fixes her own shit (well her dad had to intervene on her accidental crime but that’s different) and she takes matters into her own hands.
I also really liked the fact that she was perhaps a little spoilt. It was a refreshing spin and it just made her have so much dimension and really made me, the reader, appreciate her actions a little more. I mean, when we have a selfless, humble character, we expect her to do the right thing…right? But with Anne, it was especially satisfying and refreshing to see her stand up for her roommate.
The plot itself was great. The entire mystery was well written and thought out even though I knew who the killer was already, right when he/she introduced. Not that it was predictable or anything (in fact the story truly wasn’t), but I just took a wild guess and was right in the end, HAHA.
And let me just tell you something. You KNOW a book is good when the plot is interesting enough that the romance(s) don’t overshadow it. OR you know a book is so good that the romance isn’t the focal point. It was done SO well and I’m already shelving it under one of my favourite romances ever. The relationships were SO BELIEVABLE! None of that instalove bullshit. This is an author that understands the teenage world. Anne plays the waters, and even if there is a love triangle, it’s realistic. She’s not in love with them, but she has feelings for both of them.
One side note though: I prefer one-sided love triangles because I like knowing who the real winner is and this book frustrated me because there was no indication (until the end of course). I do have a favourite though, Brent, and even though we end with Anne clearly with one of the love interests, I know he hasn’t won yet. I mean there are two more books after this one. God, I hate suspense.
Now on to the boys who helped Anne throughout the book with the murder mystery case. You’ve got the ‘wrong side of the track’, rough hottie, Anthony, and the clean-cut, popular jock, Brent. Maybe they were a little stereotypical, each being on different ends of the spectrum (but both super hot, of course, I mean YA guys are anything but -_-) but I really found myself rooting for Brent. I’ve read billions of books where the nice guy finished last, so I’m really really hoping the nice guy will finish first this time. Not that Anthony is evil or anything, but I feel like it’s expected for her to be with Anthony because the bad boy (who later turns good or something) always wins the heroine’s heart. It’s YA tradition and a boring one at that.
Another thing to add is that not only were these three characters great but the minor characters were also all very well done. At first glance, I had unfairly pegged them all: brat, mean, vapid YOU NAME IT!, only to find my accusations all knocked down. Their exteriors were stereotypical but as we delve more into each of their lives, we see many cracks.
Sharp dialogue, kick ass heroine, intriguing plot… I really can’t wait to see what Taylor has next in store!