Up Till Dawn Reading: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

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Author: Kara Taylor
Series: Prep School Confidential (#1)
Read: February 1st
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: July 30th, 2013
Genre: contemporary, mystery
Rating: ★★½

 In short: so much better than it looks! Anne Dowling is the prep school Nancy Drew, for sure.

Goodreads: In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

Prep School Confidential really impressed me! I have to say I wasn’t expecting much. Books like this end up falling short almost as a rule. But this one was exciting, smart, and funny. And I think a huge part of that is thanks to the characters and the fresh plot.

When I say fresh, I mean that it opts out of the petty jealous tripe it could have been and veers towards conspiracies and bigger-than-us scandals. Like Anne herself, the plot is daring and unafraid. I love how the plot doesn’t happen. Anne makes it happen. She takes charge, snoops around, refuses to let go of her roommate’s death.

The setting—expensive American boarding school—calls for certain clichés and I’m so glad Prep School Confidential knocks them all aside. Maybe the unofficial Wheatley casual uniform is J. Crew and pearls, but they’re still teenagers. They do dumb things, but that doesn’t make them dumb. They’re rich, but not (all) rich douches. It is actually like Gossip Girl without the backstabbing and sordid drama. The pinnacle of this wonderful cast is occupied by our fabulous main character who might just be my newest role model. Anne is pretty, popular, and often a tad reckless. She knows all these things about herself. But she’s defined by her Nancy Drew-esque curiosity and lawyer’s-kid smarts. She isn’t vapid, nor does she put other girls down. Basically, Anne Dowling is like the literary world’s gift to me.

Also, Brent Conroy. BRENT CONROY. Drunk conversation #1:

“My parents sent me up here so I could reform my bad-girl ways,” I say. “I’m giving it a shot.”
“Well, if you ever need help from the resident good boy, I live here. In this room.”

I had no point to make there, I just wanted to put that quote in.

The romance sits nicely on the sidelines, without any ridiculous angsting or melodrama. Of course Anne is immune to such idiocy. And I will warn you that it is a bit of a love triangle, but I loved this book anyway.

I realise now that this review is rather rambly and makes little-to-no-sense, but I will end by saying READ THIS BOOK NOW, which is not at all rambly and makes a good deal of sense, I think.

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