Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.
The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.
Rating: 3.75 stars
I took a few days to dwell on this book and I’ve decided I liked it. I didn’t love it. But I liked it.
Kay is the soccer captain at her prestigious boarding school and is surrounded by rich, pretty mean girls. Needless to say, everyone has secrets. But when this group of girls find another student dead in the lake, everyone’s secrets will soon be put out in the open for all to see. Kay didn’t know Jess when she was alive but suddenly she’s being blackmailed -by a dead girl- to do her dirty work.
At first, I was really not liking this book. I’m glad that I stuck with it because I feel like it got better, but there were so many times in the beginning when I wanted to put it down and not pick it back up. There is so. much. drama in this story. Drama is, of course, a running theme that I often see in YA novels, but this was to the extreme. There are a lot of girls to keep up with and all of their secrets and fights felt overwhelming and a bit overdone in the beginning, to be honest. Thankfully, at some point the author gradually slides away from all of that teen angst into a story that is actually entertaining.
Since there were so many girls and associated rumors, it was a bit hard to keep up with everyone. Usually in a book like that, I can have memorized the who’s who of the book near the quarter mark or so, but I never got a grasp on some of the girls even at the end of the book. A lot of them are there just to carry the plot, which makes sense for this story, but still gets frustrating when they’re referenced throughout. I think that Kay and Nola would be the most important to keep up with, and boiii did those two take me for a ride.
Kay is extremely unlikable. Usually I like a murder story with an untrustworthy narrator because that makes it all the more fun. But Kay… she’s honestly just a shallow mean girl with absolutely no sense of loyalty or respect for others. She just straight up sucks. Of course I felt bad for her when she was being framed for murder because I’m not going to go as far as to say that she deserves that for what she did to her fellow classmates throughout the years, but I will say that she didn’t deserve any of the niceties she ever got. There’s a lot more to her character than immediately meets the eye, but it was honestly equally infuriating as far as I’m concerned, so there was never a moment when I was actually routing for her. I wanted justice for Jess’s death, but I could care less about Kay’s character. Nola, on the other hand, was someone I liked right off the bat. She’s the type of character you kind of have to hold at arms length until you can decipher how you feel about her. Her quirkiness kind of teetered on the edge of being a manic pixie dream girl, but she lacked a lot of the qualities so she got to escape that trope. There is also a lot underneath the surface with her, but they aren’t really things that I can get into because it’d ruin the story. I’ll just stress that she’s an interesting character, for sure.
One thing that I will give this book (and one of the reasons I decided that I liked it) is that it took me a very long time to figure out what was going on. Other’s might have seen it coming clear as day, but I had my suspicions about a different character until about three quarters of the way through. I finally started to figure out a bit of the mystery, but I was still pulling for the other character to be the bad guy, so this book really did win the shock value for me. Another awesome prospect of this is that sexuality plays a humongous role but is never actually used as a plot line. Does that make sense? I don’t quite know how to explain it to someone who hasn’t read it, but basically, no one is taking a second look at anyone for same-sex attractions. It is as it should be.
Overall, it’s an interesting time. I read it in one day, so it’s definitely quick and once the story picks up, you’ll want to rush to the ending to find out exactly what is going on. It’s not perfect, but if you can stand some teen angst and under developed side-line characters to get to the good stuff, I’d say go for it.