ARC Review: Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor – Wickedly Awesome

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Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publishing House: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of pages: 304 pages
Source: ARC from Netgalley
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Buy on AMAZON (US, UK, AU) | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Anne Dowling becomes entangled in a web of secrets involving a missing student and a conspiracy at Wheatley Prep in this fast-paced, juicy follow-up to Prep School Confidential

Anne Dowling—a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private—is back for her second semester at Wheatley Prep. Although things have settled (somewhat) since her roommate Isabella’s death, Anne’s still kind of obsessed with the disappearance of Wheatley student Matthew Weaver thirty years ago, since she found a picture of him and his crewmates with the words “they killed him” scrawled on the back among Isabella’s things.

When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger. Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.

NO SPOILERS. 

First, before we commence, can I please just emphasize how amazingly real and articulate Anne Dowling is? Here’s what she has to say regarding the new Latin teacher in town (which she completely adores since she’s apparently one of those kick-ass teachers):

The guys call her a TILF behind her back, and Lee Anderson, the hulking nerdy kid who sits across the aisle from me, now spends the class hunched over like he’s constantly trying to hide a Woody Woodpecker.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present you the ever-so awesome Anne Dowling:

With that said, let me begin by saying Prep School Confidential was one of the my “surprising” reads of 2013. While settings set in the world of the rich and the glamorous where kids are sons and daughters of important people aren’t really my favorite, I do admit they are highly entertaining if you read it from a detached point of view. Like hey, let’s look and laugh at these self-important teenagers (or rather children as they oftentimes have the mindset of an eight year old) dealing with first world problems! What a joke, right? Fortunately, Anne Dowling (the very awesome main character) made this unattainable world easier to relate to for peasants like me with her refreshing voice that effortlessly made the narration witty, funny, and just plain (en français) fantastique.

He misinterprets my blank stare as me checking him out. Casey smiles and nods to the Brit Lit textbook to my knees. “Do you have Fowler?”

“Yup… does he ever… lighten up?”

Erik shakes his head as Casey says, “Not really.”

Bea stares us down. “Actually, he’s a really great teacher if you pay attention to his lectures.”

And if Bea paid attention to anything, she’d know that it’s impossible to start a sentence with the word “actually” and not sound like an obnoxious bitch. I return her frosty smile. “Guess I should quit snorting coke and running Ponzi schemes from my laptop during class.”

And here she is again in Wicked Little Secrets (whose title can’t ever be nearer to the essence of the book!) in all her radiating epicness and witty glory (Have I ever mentioned that if ever I were reincarnated, I’d like to be her? Such confidence, me likey). She knows she’s pretty, she knows she’s bad-ass, she knows she’s frank (NO, she is frank, not Frank, whoever that is), and she’s here with one thing in mind: the truth. And she’ll stop at nothing to get it.

I like Anne. No, not like, I adore her. She’s one of those people who knows her assets and isn’t afraid to show it. She’s the kind of person who’d be a bitch to you if you really need some ass-whooping, but would defend you and punch a guy in the nose for you if you’ve been wronged. In short: she’s real. She doesn’t dilly-dally (okay, maybe she does sometimes but more on to that later) and she gets the job done once she puts her mind to it. In this installment, you can’t help but fall in love with her even more as she tries to go against the big waves, knowing it may land her in deep, deep shit, but also knowing it’s the right thing to do because no one else has come clean about some secrets that were not supposed to be buried with justice not yet served. I love her honesty and her no-nonsense motto, and even though she sometimes thinks before she acts, you can tell that she’s a smart and clever cookie. She’s very perceptive and is quick to notice little details. All in all, if you loved her in Prep School Confidential, you’ll love her even more here. She still has that fiery passion within her, that wild and free spirit that yearns to do what her heart tells her, other people be damned. Is it possible to care so much and yet give zero fucks at all? Anne makes that possible with her awesome narration.

The mystery here is really well done. I applaud Kara Taylor for making it so intriguing and unpredictable, for making me keep on guessing and still not have the right answer, or any answer close to it. If it makes it easier to visualize, try imagining Gossip Girl x Sherlock Holmes with stiletto heels. Pretty picture, ain’t it? Every chapter ends with you wanting to learn more of the mystery, with you feeling Anne’s emotions as she dives into deep, troubled waters, and with you feeling a wee bit of hatred for certain characters because douchebag much??? You simply just can’t trust easily here. So many characters seem very innocent, but you realize (along with Anne, to her dismay) that just because some people carry a smile doesn’t mean they don’t have demons underneath. And that fact hits you like a pick-up truck. SWOOSH THUD KA-POW

That’s not to say I don’t have any complaints. They are minor details but they are complaints just the same.

1.) Should I take the Prada or the Gucci? There is a love triangle here, thanks to Anne’s charm that effortlessly reeled two guys in in the previous book (Brent and Anthony). I have a love-hate relationship with LTs to be honest. On one hand, I love the tension in the air. On the other hand, I hate the flip-flopping. As long as they’re done right, I can forgive and appreciate most LTs. Here, though, I kind of detested it a little. Yeah, it gets solved later on, but I wished Anne was more in control of her feelings. She would keep thinking about one boy to another, caring for one but ALSO caring for another in possibly a deeper way, but ending up juggling the two as she can’t make up her mind. I found myself frowning upon this, because it just didn’t feel right. It felt like she was toying with their feelings. I wish she was more honest to herself and to these two boys about who she really, really liked so she didn’t have to lie to both of them.

2.) But I don’t want to hurt him! Withholding information from someone that may just mean your life or his life? I’ll never fucking get it. I really hate it when characters take hold of info that is extremely vital but would rather choose not to share it to the appropriate authorities, and I especially hate it when it’s used as a tactic for suspense. It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I mean, someone infiltrated a supposedly well-guarded building by posing as someone else, barged into your room, tried to kill whoever was with you, and when you were asked about it by the cops, you feign innocence? LIKE WHUT. JUST. WHUT. Anne Dowling is pretty awesome, but I hated the times she didn’t share just because 1.) it may hurt that person; 2.) it didn’t “seem” that important, and; 3.) they don’t need to know. Uh, if it concerns me, and especially ME, then yes, I do need to know.

Other than that, though, this was an awesome read. I was kept at the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I cannot get enough of Anne’s fiery spirit. I love her so much and I still wish I were her in a different life. Wicked Little Secrets will surely satisfy anyone looking for a good murder whodunit mystery, and for those people who like digging secrets. If it involves someone else’s life, they’re not supposed to be buried.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Overall: 4.3

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    Sounds like you have a book crush on Anne, she sounds like a really awesome chick that isn’t lame or superficial but just so real! I love the way you’ve described her Faye :) How annoying is point 2) that you mentioned, kind of reminds me of Pretty Little Liars and not telling the cops about the girls being stalked. Oh wells! Lovely review :)
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Spoilers in Reviews: Grumpy Cat Says NoMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, geez, am I that obvious? XP But it’s really true – I love Anne’s confidence. It’s the best factor in the book for me and what really reeled me in. I feel like she also carries me with her confidence and aura.

      Yeah, point number 2 was suuuper annoying. I really don’t get that at all. In a real life situation, if you know your life is in danger, you. Tell. The. Fricking. Cops. NO EXCUSES. Who’s to say that particular person won’t try to look for you again? He got in once, who knows if he can succeed the second time around? Geez!

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeann :)

  2. says

    bhahahaahaha @ at the actually quote :D haha. I would really like a change and read about confident women “She’s one of those people who knows her assets and isn’t afraid to show it. She’s the kind of person who’d be a bitch to you if you really need some ass-whooping, but would defend you and punch a guy in the nose for you if you’ve been wronged. In short: she’s real.” — that reminds me of Rose Calloway from The Addicted series (or her own book Kiss the Sky) by Krista and Becca Ritchie. Love her so so so much! So I can relate :D GG and Sherlock? Um, YES PLEASE:’) Sometimes ending each chapter with a minor cliff hanger for you to want more is a pain in the arse, because you can’t put the book down without feeling like you just died a little inside :D haha :D yeah, that is my problem with Reign’s love triangle right now though the lates tepisode finally gave us answers who really rules Mary’s heart. SOOOO HAPPY YOU LIKED IT! after that PJO yeahhh.. :D

    • FayeFaye says

      LOL! And there is more where that quote came from! Anne’s like a library of kick-ass quotes that make curses sound like angelic music.

    • FayeFaye says

      I’m glad my gifs did the trick! They’re pretty effective in showing one’s feels :P But yes, yay to realness!

  3. says

    I was so excited to see an review of this one on the blog (: I’ve actually read Prep School Confidential and adored it. Anne was one of the main reasons for my adoration of the previous book and I’m super glad to hear that she doesn’t lose her spunk in this one. The quotes in this review definitely sound like classic Anne to me and totally made me laugh. You did an wonderful job of describing your love of Anne and I really do feel the same. I’m also quite glad the mystery in this one was unpredictable! I love it when books keep you guessing.

    Ah, the love triangle. It’s definitely not my favorite aspect of the book (ANNE IS OMG) so I’m an little disappointed that it’s prevalent in this one. In the last book I was leaning more towards Brent so I’m curious to see if my views will change in Wicked Little Secrets or not.

    Lovely review! <33
    Larissa recently posted…DNF Review: The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Woot woot! I’m very happy you liked the first book Anne! In that case, I’m pretty certain this one will be right up your alley.

      In the first book I was leaning more towards Brent as well, but I had a change of heart here. Anthony holds my heart and soul now

    • FayeFaye says

      Saaaame! Anthony seemed like a reckless idiot in the previous book, but I loved him so much here. He seems so endearing and hard-working, the kind of guy I’d totally fall head over heels for in real life. I just hope Anne stops flip-flopping again… that’s my issue with the romance. I mean, it wasn’t bad and there were times it seemed a wee bit too much, but it was the constant “Guy A or Guy B” that got to my nerves. RAWR!

  4. says

    Faye . . . FAYE!! I don’t have time for this, LOL. Ordinarily I can safely set aside any book that sounds remotely like this one. I just don’t go for the “self-important” teenagers and the prep school books. But no, you have to go and make them sound awesome (and I say them b/c if I want to read this one, I have to read the one before it). Bloody-friggin’-heck.

    Awesome review, Faye :)
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Well, I can just say the same to you with the new stuff you made me want to read. At least this one has only two books… THE HOLLOWS HAS ELEVEN! :P

  5. says

    Yay I’m gald that you really liked this one!! I think I read another review somewhere else also saying how much they loved Anne, and I think I’m going to read Prep School Confidential just to see what all the fuss is about because even though this series isn’t really hyped up, the reviews it does get have been pretty positive :) Glad that you liked this one, and fantastic review, Faye! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Feminist Sunday (7): AbortionMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Eileen you have no idea how happy this comment made me. anne Dowling really needs more love! When you review it please let me know, I’d love to see your thoughts!

    • FayeFaye says

      I can’t wait for you to meet her two, Wendy! She’s such a curious, clever girl that it’s hard not to love her. It’s high time we meet heroine who are very very confident in themselves :D

  6. says

    YAY! SO glad you loved this one! I adored the PSC and I can’t wait to find out what happen in WLS! ;) Anne is amazing! You know those scenes in horror movies where the MC is going into a room and we’re all like “STUPID, DON’T GO INSIDE” because there will always be some seriously horrible things in there? But that wasn’t how I felt toward Anne. I really liked the way she investigated things. For some reason, it felt like she was being curious without being stupid, if you know what I mean. Even if she did do something stupid, I just couldn’t be bothered to be annoyed with her for too long lol.

    Ahh, the love triangle issue again? My, my, they’re never-ending, aren’t they? x_x I just hate it when the girl couldn’t make up her mind, maybe I can tolerate a little boy-juggling but most of the time, nope. There are possibilities that a love triangle would be a feel-inducing one. Too bad the chances are pretty slim nowadays.

    Amazing review as always, Faye! *hats off*
    Kezia recently posted…[Review] Pivot Point by Kasie WestMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I KNOW! She has that charm, doesn’t she? I mean she doesn’t always does the the right thing (there were moments of frustration, no doubt) but it was the kind of thing that I’d easily overlook later on just because she’s Anne Dowling.

      And yes, the love triangle is still very apparent. Hopefully it’s resolved now and there won’t be any more flip-flopping in the next book!

  7. laila BC says

    I always thought whoever includes the Queen B in their review should automatically go to my TBR. I love your review. Anne sounds my kind of heroine :)