BOOK REPORT for Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
Cover Story: Preppy
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Paperback Writer
Bonus Factors: Boarding School, Mystery
Relationship Status: The Ned Nickerson to my Nancy Drew

Prep School Confidential

Cover Story: Preppy

In case the title of the book didn't give it away, here's a plaid skirt and argyle knee socks to reiterate the fact that this is a story about a fancy private school. And the bedazzled iPhone clues you into the fact that there is DEATH involved...or just someone who's really into Hot Topic.

Honestly, this cover makes me miss the days of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine (Fear Street!), when publishers weren't afraid to emblazon their thrillers with terrified faces and murder weapons. I mean, how much more badass would this cover be if the girl was holding a bloody knife instead of an iPhone? Plus, the blood would totally match the color scheme.

The Deal:

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After Anne Dowling accidentally burns down a sizable chunk of her cushy New York private school, her parents decide to ship her off to Wheatley, a boarding school in Boston. (If only I had been punished that severely as a teen!) For Anne, the transition seems like a nightmare—finding new friends, scoping out new crushes and navigating new classes. But the real nightmare begins when her roommate Isabella is brutally murdered. The list of suspects is a mile long, from the queen bee to revered teachers, and Anne finds herself going the distance to uncover the identity of the killer. As if surviving high school wasn't hard enough!

BFF Charm: Yay!

BFF-6

There are basically two types of BFF-worthy YA heroines: girls that actually would have been friends with me in high school, and girls that I wish had been friend with me in high school. Anne definitely fits into the latter category. She's super savvy and a little bit wild, and she oozes confidence, even when she doesn't quite feel it. What saves her from being a total Serena van der Woodsen is her down to earth attitude and the fact that she's, like, actually a good person. On the scale of girl detectives, Anne is somewhere in the middle—not as wholesome as Nancy Drew, and not as fiery as Veronica Mars. Either way, I totally wouldn't mind being her Bess or her Wallace.
 
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Are you a sucker for boys with all American good looks and winning smiles? Or do you prefer your love interests to have a hint of danger and mystery? Author Kara Taylor hedges her bets by including both types in this story. Brent is the charming prep school hero, and Anthony is the dark stranger with a tortured past. (Technically, I guess he's an MLD—Mysterious Loner Dude—but I don't like him enough to actually award him this title.) Although Anne does her fair share of crushing, my lady parts didn't follow suit, and while I get the allure of both boys, they didn't exactly set my pulse racing.

Talky Talk: Paperback Writer

This is a book that's just as easy to pick up as it is to put down. Taylor writes in an informal, engaging style that endears you to Anne and seamlessly slips you into her daily life without actually creating an emotional connection. Moreover, the mystery is rather formulaic, with a high number of suspects and web of motives that wasn't nearly tangled enough. Reading Prep School Confidential reminded me of the summers I spent devouring paperbacks from the spinning racks at the library. It's easy to race through a book when there's not much scenery to distract you.

Bonus Factor: Boarding School

Boarding School-2

Unlike vampires, boarding school is a YA element that will never, ever get old for me. There's something about the lack of parental supervision combined with teenagers living together, not to mention the inspiring atmosphere of stately old buildings. Plus, a bonus for this bonus factor: Wheatley has secret underground tunnels!


Bonus Factor: Mystery

Mystery-2

Even though I wish there had been more complicated intrigue, I enjoyed trying to solve the murder alongside Anne. And the fact that the mystery is set at a boarding school made it that much more fun.

Casting Call:

Alicia Banit-2

Alicia Banit as Anne

Thomas Lacey

Thomas Lacey as Brent

Thomas McDonell
Thomas McDonnell as Anthony

Relationship Status: The Ned Nickerson to my Nancy Drew

I love to get my mystery on, and this book was a dependable, easygoing partner for sleuthing. It was totally cute and sweet but definitely predictable. We got along well, and it certainly has many charming qualities, but next time I'm in the mood for some detecting, I think I'll call up someone a little more intense, i.e. the Logan to my Veronica.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from St. Martin's Press. Prep School Confidential is available now.

Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. The founder of Forever Young Adult, Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).