Rating: 3 out of 5.

Violet Hale moves with her family to North Carolina from Michigan. She had friends and a boyfriend in MI, but in NC, isn’t able to easily makes friends and draws the attention, and ire, of the school’s queen bee on her first day. Every day after that, Violet is bullied by her and the popular kids. One day a cute boy, Jess, defends her after Violet is bullied, and he and his friend Kayla befriend her. Violet is grateful to finally make friends, but the more she gets to know them, the more sinister their friendship becomes.

I have mixed feelings about this YA contemporary fiction. The book started promising, but the pacing was off. Some sections were fine, others drag, and yet others were too rushed, especially near the end of the book. Violet’s character was well-developed, but Jess and Kayla were fairly one-dimensional. I understand the need to build suspense, but the constant illusions to something “bad” happening, with no payoff until the last 1/4 of the book (even though I had figured out the “bad” thing earlier) was frustrating. I also understand that the author wanted to convey that you can never really know some people, and that sometimes their true nature is opposite to what you may think, but the way it’s done in this book is clunky and heavy handed.

There were several occasions when I though what the heck is this book supposed to be about now? Without getting too spoilery, one thing happens that typically would be considered a big deal that should traumatize people, and yet people basically say “oh, that’s sad and sucks”, while other things happen and people act like it’s the end of the world. It’s inconsistent and too far out there – even when trying to suspend disbelief. The book raced to the climax, and yet it ended in a wimper. I will say, however, that the author did a great job of depicting the bullying that Violet endured. It was sometimes difficult to read and was a great example of the excuse that “it’s just words” is total BS.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Katie and Brey PA and the author. All opinions are my own.