Published by Crooked Lane Books
Published on October 8th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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What you see isn't always what you get.
Stevie never meant for things to go this far. When she and Dee--defiant, bold, indestructible Dee--started all this, there was a purpose to their acts of vengeance: to put the bullies of Woepine High School back in their place. And three months ago, Stevie believed they deserved it. Once her best friend turned on her, the rest of the school followed. Stevie was alone and unprotected with a target on her back. Online, it was worse.
It was Dee's idea to get them all back with a few clever pranks, signing each act Love, Heather--an homage to her favorite 80's revenge flick. Despite herself, Stevie can't help getting caught up in the payback, reveling in every minute of suffering. And for a while, it works: it seems the meek have inherited the school.
But when anonymous students begin joining in, punishing perceived slights with increasingly violent ferocity, the line between villain and vigilante begins to blur. As friends turn on each other and the administration scrambles to regain control, it becomes clear: whatever Dee and Stevie started has gained a mind--and teeth--of its own. And when it finally swallows them whole, one will reemerge changed, with a plan for one final, terrifying act of revenge.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This book is about a young girl discovering her power when she breaks the rules to ‘get back’ at bullies.
The story is about a 14 year old Canadian girl Stevie from a ‘broken’ home – her dad left when she was 12, although sometimes the timelines and flashbacks will have you guessing about the accuracy. Stevie tended to enjoy playing the victim a bit, as did her her own mother, who complained about but secretly relished being a single mother.
I personally thought that this story was a bit too mature for a 14 year old protagonist. There’s some very adult situations committed by other 14 year olds and I found a bit hard to remember the main cast are only 14. Most of them seem very grown-up. I’m trying to keep this vague because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I personally feel that I, as a thirty-something YA reader, would have had an easier time suspending my disbelief if the characters were only one or two years older. It’s a very small thing to be picky about, but that’s how I feel. Certainly, plenty of 14 year olds are very mature and having sex and stuff, I absolutely cannot argue with that. I guess when Stevie said “we’re still virgins” (my emphasis) at age 14 it sits uncomfortably with me. Like yes, please don’t be engaging in sexual activity yet, you’re definitely not mature enough, as demonstrated by the author.
And in lots of respects, Stevie was appropriately innocent and ignorant, had the bravado of a social justice warrior and had this attitude of getting angry at others for not acting, protecting them, standing up for them. I would be very interested in how an actual 14 year old feels about this age’s portrayal.
This is marked as a thriller book, but honestly, I didn’t feel anything vaguely thriller-like until about 85% through the entire novel, when something cleverly hidden became obvious. I say ‘cleverly’ because I feel like I saw the hints but didn’t quite pick up on them. So I was approaching this as if it were a contemporary almost the whole time. I don’t think it’s particularly thrillery or suspensey anyway, and I would definitely shelve it in my contemporary YA section of my library.
And honestly, I want to point out that maybe Petrou didn’t write it to be a thriller! Maybe that’s just where marketing plopped it. But I personally wouldn’t plop it there.
The 80s pop references were pretty cool. I did honestly request to review this book because I love Heathers the Musical (not the film, the Broadway show based on the film), and I felt like I was in some kind of exclusive club when I knew what Stevie was referring to when she talked about old movies.
On the whole the book was really easy to devour and I definitely got into it. The long lead into the inciting incident filled me with dread. I absolutely did not see the ending coming. I was trying to piece the hints together at that point, and still didn’t get it until it was made clear to me what was going on. If you’re into Mean Girl books, or books about young vigilantes, I think you might enjoy this one. I certainly did!