Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Just Finished Reading ... Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Harper Teen
on September 16, 2014
Source: e-ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers. When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.
My take: I love revenge shows. I love Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family. But I haven't really found a YA book that does a good job with the whole revenge thing. Most YA revenge books fall into the "childish pranks" category rather than the "I will make you sorry you ever lived" category. And PLL-type stories, though fun and addictive on screen, often come off as cartoonish and improbable on the page.
While Get Even and I got off to a bit of a rocky start, I ended up enjoying it overall. The beginning of the book had waaaay too many characters for me. I counted twenty named characters in the first 15% of the book. *head explodes* But gradually, I came to figure out who everyone was and what they had to do with the story. I also must confess that I kept getting the four main characters mixed up at first. I had to make notes: "politician's daughter," "Asian girl not good at math," "actress eating disorder crazy mother," and "computer nerd anxiety."
Get Even features some familiar PLL staples, like hacking into a school video presentation -- remember the PLL fashion show episode? No, not that weird wedding fashion show, but the Rosewood Charity Fashion show, when "A" hacks into the projector and suddenly the screen says "the bitch is dead" with Ali going up in flames. That kind of stuff.
That brings me to one of the things I loved about Get Even: the humor. Like PLL, which often cracks me up out of nowhere, really funny, clever things would just pop up in Get Even when I least expected it. I loved this hilarious character called Ed the Head who was one part Anthony Michael Hall nerd character from John Hughes movies and one part Badger from Firefly. One of the things Ed sells on the black market is junk food, because the school has banned unhealthy food from campus.
All in all, I think Get Even does a good job of capturing that PLL vibe -- a kind of outlandish, sometimes humorous story that taps into our secret fantasies about making mean people pay for what they've done.