I was intrigued when I started hearing about Kara Taylor's debut, Prep School Confidential. It's a teen mystery (yes!), set in a boarding school (double yes!) and is being compared to Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, and Cruel Intentions (I am 1 for 3 on that reference set!).
Prep School Confidential hit shelves on July 30 and I picked it as an insomnia read over the weekend. Fortunately (or not) it was a good fit. Didn't exactly encourage me to go back to sleep, though :)
Anne rules her school but a little accidental arson on her part lands her in hot water. Her dad is quick to pull strings and get her a place at Wheatley, a posh Massachusetts boarding school. Anne is not pleased. But if she wants to get back on her parents' good sides she'll have to make do. Maybe if she can stay out of trouble for the rest of the year, she can convince them to let her back in at her old school in New York. Things at Wheatley aren't all that bad either. The students are ok (with one major exception), there are some cute and distracting boys, and her roommate, Isabella, is actually kind of cool. But when Isabelle is murdered on school grounds while Anne is out at a party, she feels totally responsible. Maybe if she'd hung around the dorm instead of sneaking out, Isabella would still be alive. Anne feels like she owes it to her friend to try and find out what happened, especially after it becomes clear the powers that be at Wheatley are hiding things.
I wasn't all that sure about this one when I started reading it. The rich girl playing at being bad, stealing a disciplinary report and accidentally setting her school on fire in the process wasn't initially a character I thought I'd want to spend a whole book with. Thank goodness I gave her more pages as a chance. Anne rocked! Beyond our rough introduction, she won me over completely. What's more, every character (the teen ones) in Taylor's story struck me as realistically built teens. The true test is always the actual teen reaction, but I definitely don't feel too far gone that I can't recognize a teen caricature rather than a believable teen character.
And you're probably wondering about the mystery. Well, as a longtime mystery reader I can honestly say that Kara Taylor's plot here is a win! This was definitely a smart mystery, one that left me guessing pretty much until the end.
Apparently, Prep School Confidential is just the first in a new series. Book two, Wicked Little Secrets, is due out in March of next year (and based on the description, will be a must read for any fan of Prep School Confidential since it continues the mystery of Matthew Weaver).