Wednesday 7 August 2019


Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

I love a good boarding school story. The first books I remember reading by myself were the St. Clares ones by Enid Blyton, and I was so enthralled by them that I subsequently read them over and over again, at least once a year until I was well into my teens. Fast-forward a few (ahum) years, and I still have a soft spot for novels taking place in a boarding school, so I was thrilled when I discovered that Sue Wallman's latest book is set in one.

Kate is the queen bee of Pankhurst House, the most popular boarding house for girls at Mount Norton School. She's beautiful and House Prefect of the fifth-form, giving her a powerful status at the school – and she cannot wait to take advantage of all the privileges that come with this. Unfortunately, their housemistress was fired over the summer holidays and the new one is far stricter and observant, making it harder for Kate and the other students to sneak around, throw parties, and do all the things they feel they deserve now they're in the fifth form.

And when shocking secrets from the girls are coming to light, suddenly being the most powerful girl in Pankhurst House is no longer a much-coveted role, but a dangerous one instead...

I have been a big fan of Sue Wallman's suspenseful young adult thrillers for years. From her tense debut Lying About Last Summer right through to the haunting Your Turn to Die (though her second novel, the twisted See How They Lie is still my favourite). What is so great about her writing is that while all books are gripping, edge-of-your-seat kind of reads, every single one of them feels unique, because of the vastly different characters, story, and settings; from a wellness retreat to a haunted house, and from a summer camp to now a boarding school.

And with Dead Popular she has worked her writing magic again. While the book may seem to start off as any regular contemporary young adult novel – setting up the characters and their rankings on the popularity scale while talking about teenage crushes and midnight parties – the story quickly turns far darker and will hook you in with its mystery. I love how the thriller aspect always lingers along the edges of Sue's books, subtle yet tense, until it burst through in full force and all hell breaks lose. It reminds me of the Point Horror novels I devoured in my teens, with characters that are quite literally crazy and with a twisty conclusion that will always take the reader by surprise.

Whether you love a contemporary YA, unpredictable mystery, or twisty thriller, Dead Popular will satisfy your reading needs on all fronts and then some. It may lure you in with a fun boarding school setting, but the clever build-up and compelling writing will have you engrossed until you turn that final page.

Dead Popular
by Sue Wallman is published by Scholastic and you can get your copy now from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.


Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but it was my choice to cover it on my blog with an honest review.

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