Published by HarperTeen
Published on 28 April 2020
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Pretty Little Liars meets Burn for Burn in this thrilling debut from Wattpad star Ann Valett.
Chloe Whittaker is out for revenge. Last year her best friend Monica’s life was unceremoniously ruined by the most popular students at their high school, so this year Chloe plans to take each and every one of them down. She traded her jeans and T-shirts for the latest designer clothes, deleted everything on social media that would tie her to Monica (and blow her cover), and carefully devised a way to befriend the members of the popular clique. Now all that’s left to do is uncover their deepest, darkest secrets and reveal them to the world.
Chloe has the perfect plan…that is, until she begins to fall for one of the people she’s determined to destroy.
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Clique Bait by Ann Valett (and Australian author!) is a high school rich mean girls revenge and fake dating story set in an American high school, with a cynical lead vowing to get revenge on the mean kids clique that did something terrible to her ex-best friend. It’s full of glitz and glamour, loads of backstabbing and bitches, allegedly some hot guys (I didn’t see it, sorry!), so I can definitely see the appeal of that kind of novel. I was originally drawn to it because it came up for review at the same time as The Upside of Falling, a fellow Wattpad novel that started on Episode, so I figured why not give both of these novels a go and see how their origins affect the end product.
This book was originally a Wattpad novel, and unfortunately it still feels like a Wattpad novel. The conflicts are bite sized. The scenes are bite sized. The chapters are short and punchy. And there’s not much emotional depth to it. Overall it just feels a little clumsy. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been able to give more depth, motivation, background, and emotional intelligence to any of the other characters besides out lead, Chloe.
But that’s really not what Wattpad fans are looking for.
I did love how the book was broken into sections depending on Chloe’s plan including infiltrating and blackmailing the Clique. The little letters at the beginning of each chapter were a nice choice, too. It made me wonder what happened to Monica and why was it such a mystery: I didn’t know if she had changed schools, was in a coma, or if she’d moved to Australia. I only knew that SOMETHING TERRIBLE had happened, but the Clique did such terrible things to each other and the people around them that I just couldn’t guess what it was.
I really didn’t see the appeal of hot mean guy with a heart of gold, William. I feel like William only liked Chloe due to some kind of guilt over Monica, and I feel like Chloe is only attracted to William because he’s alleged hot and definitely rich, and doesn’t have any deeper feelings than that. Again, I think this was a failing of this book originating on Wattpad, because young readers don’t care about emotional depth or meaningful connections, they only care about sexual tension. And boy, Chloe had a lot of sexual tension. So much that she didn’t even recognise it in herself for a looong time.
My biggest problem was that Chloe and Monica had been best friends for years, they attended the same school, and Chloe just expected people to not notice that. She thought she could reinvent herself and the Clique would just have no idea. Yet she was still friends with people from her old life, including inviting them to an exclusive party. She wore an accessory that had famously belonged to her ex-bestie and expected no one to notice. Chloe was supposed to be smart, and she was very good at manipulating, but a lot of what she achieved came down to sheer luck, or someone else’s motivations, and I found that frustrating. She wasn’t the smart good girl Valett kept telling us she was, and that annoyed me.
That being said, I kind of couldn’t stop thinking about this book. I wanted more rich kid drama. I wanted more glitz and glam. I guess that’s why the book was so popular! On the flip side, I did feel that this was, like REALLY adult. Like, these are high school kids and they’re having sex scandals and underage drink spiking and night clubs and all kinds of stuff that just seemed really grown up. Maybe that was also part of the appeal, because young readers love to read about the misadventures of kids older than themselves.
Overall I did really enjoy reading this book, I just feel like it didn’t move on much from its Wattpad days, and older, more experienced readers might have a hard time loving this. Younger kids will probably lap it up, though.