Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: May 17th 2016
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Trixie Watson is determined to get third place ranking in her senior year. She attends the Mess – an academy for incredibly gifted students – so competition is steep. Her arch rival is Benedict West, with whom she’s been competing for third place for years. Things get a little complicated when Trixie and Ben’s best friends start dating and they’re forced to be civil with one another. However, Trixie’s plan takes an even bigger hit when seniors start getting suspended for cheating, ad her best friend gets expelled. Trixie is determined to clear her friend’s name, keep third place and somehow manage to deal with Ben along the way.
Beginning this book was difficult because it doesn’t open well. Trixie is, at best, a jerk. She insults other people’s fashion choices, thinks she’s better than other girls for liking comics more than dresses and boys. In general she’s a walking talking “not like other girls” trope. It’s boring, it makes her look conceited and it’s a trope that’s been beaten to death. Trixie’s entire 180 character flip half-way through the novel isn’t believable but it makes the rest of the book more enjoyable now that she’s decided to be a decent person.
The romance in this book is also average at best. Ben and Trixie are constantly fighting until something pushes them to stop and they realize how wonderful they are for each other and start a beautiful romance. It’s fine, its pretty similar to loads of stories already out there and it’s not really interesting. No reader would be surprised about the trajectory the romance takes and it feels more like a subplot than the center of the novel.
Anderson does manage something exciting though. The cheating/detective plot in the book is intriguing. Unlike the obvious and cliched romance, this plot actually manages to be mysterious. There were times I doubted the main character’s conviction and thought that maybe her friend was guilty and the ultimate ending to this plot was actually well-thought out and interesting if a little fantastical (come on a whole group of teachers for the gifted missed this?).
The cheating plot saves a bland romance and manages to make this book pan out as a pretty decent read. It panders a little too much with all the fandom references but it’s definitely a better book than the cover would lead you to believe.