Series: Prep School Confidential #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 30th 2013
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.
I didn’t know what to expect from PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. At first glance it seemed to be a “poor little rich girl” tale of woe and for the first 20% I wasn’t sure how much longer I would continue. Then all of a sudden something clicked, the plot put on its running shoes and took off at a blistering pace that made me stay up far past my bedtime to find out how it all ended up. Definitely a surprise hit!
Anne Dowling is Queen Bee at her UES NY prep school and doesn’t she know it. Caught up in the clutches of yet another “bad boy”, a prank goes wrong and she accidentally burns part of her school down. For anyone else this would mean criminal charges, for Anne however it’s a train ride to Boston and a new start at Wheatley Prep. Immediately thrust into the politics and power struggles of the privileged student body, Anne is more interested in keeping her head down and perhaps indulging in a little flirtation and girly gossip. Bonding with her room-mate Isabella, Anne thinks maybe she can make a life in dreary old Boston after all. When Isabella’s body is found in the woods and the school seems more interested in maintaining its glossy sheen and perfect image than finding her killer, Anne realises that it’s up to her to ensure her friend gets justice. She just doesn’t realise how dangerous achieving that will be…
There is nothing I like more than a mystery to solve and Kara Taylor succeeds in creating a thrilling tale of intrigue, romance and plenty of chills in this book. There were plenty of moments where my stomach flipped whilst reading and one where I legit hid under the covers with my kindle I was so spooked!
I honestly didn’t think I’d like Anne, she seemed like she would be the typical spoiled pampered princess however appearances can be deceiving and she turned out to be pretty kick ass! I loved how quickly she bonded with Isabella surprising even herself. I admit I skimmed the blurb so when Isabella turned up dead I was genuinely upset along with Anne which made me connect with her all the more. The fact that Isabella was a scholarship student so her status is considered less than the other students and therefore money and power play a key part in the cover up of her murder infuriated me and I rooted for Anne even more as she delved into the murky waters of her school’s mysteries.
Taylor weaves many plotlines together to keep you guessing and every time I thought I had a handle on whodunit, another suspect or piece of evidence pops up to lead you astray. There is of course romance and Anne is torn between rich boy with a heart Brent and Isabella’s twin brother Anthony. Love triangle haters don’t be scared, Anne’s not the typical heroine wailing about being torn between two lovers, she knows what she’s doing and the romance is a nice aside to the tension and danger of her investigations.
I admit I sighed heavily when I realised this was a series, I definitely didn’t want a cliff-hanger and happily Isabella’s murder is more or less solved. However with that resolution more secrets pop up and I am definitely intrigued to see where these lead Anne and how she fares.
At first glance this does seem like a typical YA with tropes aplenty, however there is a complexity to the story and the characters are developed wonderfully. Enjoyable, captivating with the perfect balance of silliness and intrigue, PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL exceeded my expectations and is a surprising favourite and exceptional début!