Title: Beware That Girl
Author: Teresa Toten (site)
Publisher//Date: Delacorte Press//May 31, 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary, Thriller
Source: Local Library
Synopsis: For fans of We Were Liars, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train comes a powerful psychological thriller with a gripping pace and Hitchcockian twists. Set against the backdrop of New York City, this compelling novel delves into the dysfunctional yet mesmerizing world of the mega-wealthy elite and will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brien appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change all that. She’s book-smart. She’s street-smart. And she’s also a masterful liar. As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior-class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.
When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fund-raising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives, becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get to him without having to share their dark pasts?
This is one of those rare books that I knew absolutely nothing about before checking it out from my library’s Overdrive selection and taking on vacation with me, and I don’t know if the lack of information helped my opinion of the book or not. Because I was very mixed in my opinions on this book.
Let’s Break it Down:
What I Liked
- The Plot. This is what this book REALLY had going for it. The plot kept me interested. I could never figure out what was going to happen next. And while I had a hard time connecting with the characters, I really needed to find out what was going to happen and to find out who was who at the beginning. The larger plot, once it unfolds, is easy to get drawn into. I also personally, found it relevant to local school scandal that was breaking at the time I read it.
- The Ending. I found it very fitting and extremely suitable to the book as a whole. It open-ended in some respects, but it leaves you on a satisfying’ – if somewhat unexpected – note.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Characters. I found every last one of them extremely unlikable. I think of all of them I like Kate the most because we saw a great deal of the story from her POV, and I was able to empathize with her – hell, I was rooting for her to succeed – but I can’t say that I liked her. The way that she seeks out Olivia solely because she’s the most vulnerable person at her and the easiest to con. She’s an extremely well-done morally gray character, I don’t know that I like her. I couldn’t stand Olivia, I thought she was annoying and made extremely questionable decisions when the right and wrong choice was utterly clear. The supporting characters were either not meant to be sympathetic or utterly annoying. I had a really hard time with the fact that teenage girls were throwing themselves at a man in his 30s or the fact that he was encouraging it and the rampant and flippant use of prescription drugs. I know that people actually do all of these things in real life and I think its wrong. I can deal with characters that I find morally objectionable but it’s hard to connect with an entire cast of such characters.
- POV Switching. I found it extremely jarring at first – I’m not always a fan of changing tense with POV – but I got used to it. I did prefer Kate’s to Olivia’s, not surprising with how I feel about the characters, but I did feel that Kate’s voice was stronger and more memorable and Olivia’s did drag a bit.
- A Pointless Romantic Subplot. There’s a romantic subplot that adds nothing to the story. I actually enjoyed it until I realized that it wasn’t really going anywhere, and compounded with the fact there is no resolution to this thread, I couldn’t understand why it was included at all.
All in all, Beware That Girl is a decent YA thriller with an intriguing, morally gray main character and addictive plot, but with an extremely unlikable supporting cast.