Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Book review: How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski


My edition: Paperback, published on 4 June 2015 by Hot Key Books, 325 pages.

Description: Jesse, Vicks and Mel couldn't be more different. Jesse, a righteous Southern gal who's as thoughtful as she is uptight, is keeping a secret that she knows will change her life forever. Vicks is a wild child: seemingly cool, calm and collected on the outside, but inside she's furious at herself for being so anxious about her neglectful boyfriend. And Mel is the new girl in town. She's already been dismissed as just another rich kid, but all she wants is to get over some of her fears and find some true friends.

But for all their differences, the girls discover they've got one thing in common - they're desperate to escape. Desperate to get the heck out of Niceville and discover their true 'badass' selves! Even if it's just for the weekend ... One 'borrowed' car later, it's time to hit the road and head for Miami. Hearts will be broken, friendships will be tested, and a ridiculously hot stranger could change the course of everything.

Rating:



How to Be Bad is one of the treasures I picked up at Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press' blogger brunch and, I admit, I was purely drawn to it because E. Lockhart is one of its authors. I didn't know the other two writers before reading this book, but I absolutely adored Emily's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which was such a uniquely written novel within the YA genre, that I was sold on her name alone. And while How to Be Bad couldn't be any more different, it was still a highly enjoyable novel and the road trip central within made this the perfect summer holiday read.

Mel, Jesse and Vicks are three teenage girls who spend the summer months working at the Waffle House. Jesse and Vicks have been doing so for forever and have grown really close over time, despite being very different and not even going to the same school. Mel on the other hand is the new kid in town and a rich one at that, so she doesn't have to work like the other two do. Yet she actually enjoys her job as a waitress and she is desperate to find that close bond she sees between Jesse and Vicks every day.

Vicks hasn't been doing so great lately though, she misses her boyfriend who has just started college and he's not responding to any of her messages, which is making her feel very insecure about her relationship. To cheer her up, Jesse suggests a spontaneous road trip to visit him. The only problem? Neither of the girls has the money for gas or hotel stays along the way. And that's where Mel comes in. Offering to pay for their trip if she can come along, the girls set off for an adventure that involves crocodiles, hot boys at a keg party and a pirate-themed hotel.

How to Be Bad wasn't what I was expecting at all. Instead of a meaningful and quirky story along the lines of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, this was a fun, feel-good novel not unlike road trip stories I've seen unfold on the big screen. Sure, the three girls central within the book all have issues to deal with and character growth to go through, but ultimately this was a really enjoyable, and at times a tad crazy, adventure – and the perfect fictional getaway for the summer holidays.

The book is written by three different authors, which is a really unique concept. Though while each of course has their own style, this didn't hamper the fluency of the story at all. They must've worked very closely together because though each of the characters had a distinct voice and personality, the overall feel of the novel was one of consistency and at times I forgot it was written by more than one author.

What was noticeable was the diversity of the characters. Especially fascinating to me was the overly religious Jesse, which was particularly noticeable in the beginning and is not something I've seen featured in YA before. I'm not religious at all, but her perspective was incredibly interesting to me and though I found her somewhat annoying at first as she so loudly exclaimed her opinions and harshly judged her friend, I grew fond of her over the course of the road trip and started to understand where she was coming from. While not the most likeable character, she was certainly the most unique one and in a day and age where people are highlighting the importance of diversity it was great to see something often underrepresented in YA fiction get a voice.

Vicks was the most stereotypical teenager, going through heartbreak and pining for her boyfriend, and Mel the most likeable and the one I felt I could easily relate to. Who hasn't been desperate to make friends yet feeling too awkward and shy to actually make this happen? Exactly. She was also often the voice of reason while the other two friends bickered along and I felt Mel was the one who really grounded the trio of girls during the trip. She may have been the most insecure at the start of the journey, but she has immense growth throughout the course of the road trip (which only lasts a few days!), which is really quite fantastic to witness.

How to Be Bad isn't a novel about being bad at all. Instead it's an exciting summer adventure chronicling the journey (literally and figuratively) of three very different teenagers girls who grow closer together as they uncover the true meaning of friendship and the importance of self-worth.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the authors? You can connect with them on Twitter at:

Emily: @elockhart

Lauren: @laurenmyracle

Sarah: @SarahMlynowski


Many thanks to the published for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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