Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential

Author: Kara Taylor
Release: July 30th 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Crime, YA
#1 in the Prep School Confidential trilogy
Sequels: Wicked Little Secrets (#2), Deadly Little Sins (#3)


In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

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 couldn't 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.


Honestly, I am so, so incredibly underwhelmed, I don't even know where to begin. I think I am blaming it entirely on my having played Life is Strange Episode 4 as well today, which basically ended up having the exact same plot twist, which was maybe the reason why I called the villain right from the start. But, as a result, I wasn't really very invested.

But what really killed the suspense in the end was that Kara Taylor was simply too overambitious in a way. Too many cooks spoil the broth, as they say. The fact that there is literally a handful of suspects, all at the same time, is just way too much and makes my head spin, because I also have my very own suspicions on top of that. This ended in there being approximately 8 or so possible suspects for the murder, which is just ridiculous. You would think that being paranoid and not trusting anyone, that having so many different suspects would actually increase the tension, but no, not really. It just felt really dull after a while because you never get any closure about any of the suspects, you can't really cross any of them off the list because the book takes an eternity to get any actual, solid proof on any of them. I swear, the only truly exciting stuff happened during the last 20%; all that came before that was very ... mediocre? 

Not to mention that the plot was kind of unbelievable, too. Because why would Anne, who seems like a super selfish and shallow girl, ever sacrifice this much to get behind the murder of a girl she barely knew, and has barely known for all of one whole week? I mean, I can understand how anyone with an intact moral compass would be absolutely flabbergasted and repulsed by how the murder was handled by the authorities, how it was brushed aside etc, and want to make it right. But, honestly, the lengths she goes to, she receives letters threatening her own life, she risks her entire future, ... all in order to help solve the murder of a girl she didn't really know? I don't believe so, I honestly, really don't. Not too mention that it is kind of convenient that almost everything worked out flawlessly, without her ever getting caught red-handed or anything. Guess she's just that skilled and special at spy work.

At this point, I also want to mention how very rushed the exposition was. I mean, I get it, I really do. Kara Taylor only has so many pages to fill, and didn't want to waste too much time boring the reader with tales of Anne's life prior to Wheatley School and how she got expelled from her old one, and so on. However, the way it all happened so fast and was handled so very blasé, like it's not THAT big of a deal that she just set her school's auditorium on fire like that, was, again, very unbelievable. And then the introduction of Isabella and the time they spend together; it was predictably short-lived but at the same time too short-lived to really gain much insight into Isabella's character or, as I already said, the reason behind Anne's motivation to catch the killer. 

Oh, and the love triangle. The darn love triangle, that is built solely on insta love to work. I mean, I can kind of get Brent and Anne, because they spend a lot of time together, and while it's pretty obvious early on that there's some kind of insta love at work here, too — because one of his friends lets slip that Anne is really special and that Brent really loves her, like, three weeks after she arrives at the school — at least they take the time to get to know each other and be partners before they kiss (with rather unfortunate timing, may I add. Seriously, that is not the fucking time to make out, guys.) However, I can't say the same about Anthony and Anne together. Seriously, she distrusts him and, in some way, is even sort of disgusted by him (as seen when she remarks on his dirty fingernails, and low wage job as a mechanic), but who cares really, because he's hot as fuck. They make out pretty quickly without ever having exchanged a word that wasn't about Isabella and solving her murder. They don't know anything about each other! Why. How. What. I just, I won't even complain anymore. This spiel about me complaining about the same thing over and over is getting old.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed parts of it, and it at least was entertaining enough for me to continue reading it till the end. But honestly, I can't say that I was particularly enjoying it or anything. I was really looking forward to it after Khanh's high praise, but, alas. Maybe Life is Strange ruined it for me, maybe someone who hasn't just played Dark Room will not have predicted the villain 30% into the novel and will be even more glued to the pages by the sheer number of suspects. I wasn't.
I might still read the sequel though, we'll see. Also, I hope I didn't spoiler Life is Strange for anybody.

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