VERY BAD THINGS by Susan McBride


Age Range: 13 - 16
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At an exclusive, picture-perfect prep school, a grisly discovery leads to more sinister—and deadly—revelations.

Katie Barton, a scholarship student at the exclusive Whitney Prep boarding school, harbors dark secrets that shattered her home life. Her roommate, Tessa, also on a scholarship, is her best friend and closest confidante, with some disquieting secrets of her own. Much to Tessa’s chagrin, Katie has been dating privileged Mark Summers, a star athlete and son of the headmaster. However, one fateful day at her dorm, Katie receives a mysterious, tattered box. Inside, is a severed human hand with a rose tattoo. Soon after, Mark is indicted for the murder of the girl with the missing hand. Could he have done it? Or could Katie’s jealous roommate have been involved? The plot is driven by a cast of stereotypical prep school attendees, and the psychological observations of these characters feel boilerplate and wooden. Some of the more serious issues in this book—like date rape—are breezily glossed over to make room for the central mystery. The adults (including a school psychologist) behave questionably and unrealistically, presumably also to accommodate the plot. Most disappointingly, most readers will have started putting the pieces of this mystery together very early on, making for a lackluster reveal at the credibility-defying conclusion.

While the pages may fly, the shortcomings are abundant in this overly ambitious offering. (Mystery. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-385-73797-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014


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