Friday, June 13, 2014

Don't Get Mad ...

Get Even.

I have not read Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, to which many, many reviewers have likened this book. I've added it to my TBR, however. So I can't compare Han and Vivian's work to McNeil's latest outing.


When you are reading a book set in high school where the high schoolers 

a) plot elaborate revenge plots against those who have wronged them
b) have mad awesome skills in different things like hacking and breaking & entering
c) decide that the police department clearly can't find a killer, so hey, let's DIY!
you have to suspend disbelief. 

It's not like this is the only high school revenge book out there. I've not read any of the Pretty Little Liars books either (nor do I watch the show), but that would be another example. I cannot, in any school in the U.S., conceive of any of this actually happening. People mess up and get caught. 

I don't mean to say that bullying doesn't happen. Oh, ho ho. Indeed it does. All of the problems that this book highlights are, unfortunately, par for the course: date rape, fat shaming, cheating, sexual harassment. It's just that ... I can't fathom a group of girls who have no other common interests forming a group to take revenge on those who have wronged them or wronged others. 

DGM (Don't Get Mad) is a vigilante group consisting of four high school girls: Kitty (volleyball champ and class president), Bree (rebel), Olivia (popular girl and drama fanatic), and Margot (loner techie and academic overachiever). The girls are so buttoned into their respective cliques that it's almost painful to read. Bree had a lot of possibilities to be really interesting, but she was the least relatable of the four characters. She was a really flat character, and I didn't understand her motivations at all. I liked Margot the best, but her family situation seemed pretty extreme--a caricature of the overprotective parental unit.

The action in Get Even takes place at a private school in California, run by a priest (?) named Father Uberto, handily nicknamed FU by the students. It's kind of a weird, über-controlling campus: no pop, no sugary snacks, and a squad of meatheads called the 'Maine Men who have been tasked by FU to seek and destroy the mysterious DGM. The pranks that the girls in DGM pull are actually pretty funny ... all up until the new kid in school is found murdered. For some reason, the police (who are professionals), think that the mysterious DGM is behind a murder. If the group had, up until this point, been pulling pranks and humiliating people (who, to be honest, did deserve it), what possible rationale is there for escalation to murder? That's a huge leap. I really don't think that the cops would automatically assume that a shadowy organization or figure at a private school would suddenly become a murdererand be able to evade the police. Based on some of the scenes, there was forensic evidence up the yazoo that the police could use. 

Evidently it's more fun to just have four teenaged girls solve the murder. Only ... *dun dun DUN* they start receiving mysterious photographs intended to make them turn on each other. 

I'm not entirely sold on the concept of punishing people in high school for what they are doing or what they did.  I didn't have a horrible high school experience.  I mean, it wasn't all ponies and rainbows and unicorns, but it wasn't horrid.  I had friends.  I was never humiliated.  I just wasn't into all of the stuff that was going on like sports and cheering and assemblies and all that.  It was just something to get through until I could go to college and be an adult.  Hooray!  


The thing about life, though, is that you can't predict how things will end up.  That horrid girl from high school who taunted you?  Maybe she'll actually grow up one day and realize that what she did was wrong.  Or maybe she won't, and she'll end up getting fired from her job for harassment.  Things work out.  They do.  And even if they don't--what are these people to you?  Honestly.  I barely keep in touch with people from high school.  I don't dislike them--they're just not a part of my life.  Things are so much bigger once you leave high school that the drama is just so not worth it.

However, that teacher totally deserved what he got from DGM.  

So, if you can accept all of that, it's actually kind of a fun story. I was curious to find out who the murderer was, and then THAT ENDING. You have got to be kidding me. Is that what happens in PLL and Gossip Girl? Do you just never know? 

I keep really, really, really wanting to like things by Gretchen McNeil--she seems really funny--but I just haven't connected with her novels. That being said, I will pick up the sequel to this because I have to know what happens. 

I received an ARC of this title from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

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