Being the new girl at school is rough. But when the popular girls choose Kerry as the newest member of their ultra-exclusive clique, she thinks her troubles are finally finished. When her three new friends are killed in a horrifying car crash, her life seems over as well. But then the texts begin. . . . Richard Peck returns to his contemporary teen- and ghost-story roots in this suspenseful page-turner with a subtle commentary on peer pressure that fans of television dramas such as Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries will devour.
Kerry Williamson, high school sophomore, admires Natalie, Tanya and Mackenzie, the three most popular girls in school, from afar, dreaming but never really expecting that one day she may be invited into the super-tight clique. But so it happens! Tanya approaches Kerry at her locker asking if she'd like to be friends. Pretty quickly it becomes evident that Kerry is low man (so to speak) on the totem pole, but she's just happy to be in the group at all. She has what so many teen girls dream of after all: popularity, an instant invite to all the coolest parties, someone to go prom dress shopping with.. she just has to decide how far she's willing to take things to maintain her place at the cool kids' table.
At first I thought they might be mean -- Mean Girls. Not to each other. They were like sisters to each other, but better. But the Mean Girls of seventh grade had sat that close, texting each other from across the table, their thumbs flying. They could give you the finger with their thumbs, and all their smiles were sneers. I'd spent middle school keeping out of their way.
Everything is going great until Halloween night, when Kerry is asked to pull a small prank on unpopular fellow student Alyssa Stark (same high school but not same grade). Tanya hears rumor of a procedure Alyssa had done. Tanya doesn't approve, so this prank is meant to bring shame on Alyssa... only Tanya it seems doesn't have the guts to do it herself so she enlists Kerry to do her dirty work. Wouldn't you know, the plan goes to pot and the Little Miss Populars drop Kerry like a hot potato, leaving her to fend for herself.
Fast forward a few months into the year and the reader is informed that Tanya, Natalie and Mackenzie have all been killed in a car wreck en route to a mall to go prom dress shopping... without Kerry... sort of. Kerry wasn't in the car, but she was on the phone with Tanya while Tanya was driving so Kerry does get a heavy dose of survivor's guilt, telling others that she feels "three quarters dead" without her friends around. No worries though... as it turns out, your friends didn't entirely shuffle off this mortal coil....
I'm not all that familiar with Richard Peck's previous work but was curious about this one because 1) paranormal -- a favorite genre of mine and 2) says right on the cover that Peck is apparently an Edgar Award winner, so I was curious to see what his award winning style was like. My verdict: FLAT. Flat writing. That's what I walked away from. I mean, I did finish the book, as it's less than 200 pages, but yeah ... almost no creep factor in this one!
Not only that but Kerry drove me bananas. SUCH a doormat! Why was she so desperate to be around these girls at any cost when they said such horrible things to her all the time?! If I had a friend making nasty comments about my mom's divorce, I would pretty quickly inform them they were out of line and could kindly STFU about it but Kerry just lets these things happen. Girl, why?! And she supposedly lives in NYC and I'm supposed to believe she knows absolutely nothing about coffee, coffee shops or the difference between debit and credit... a teen girl in NYC.....yeah, I don't buy that. And what teen girl un-ironically refers to her breasts as "my bosoms" LOL.
"The best thing about you, Kerry, is that nothing ever happened to you before you met us," Tanya said. "You don't have to be retrained.... You have something to decide, Kerry. When we pull up the drawbridge, which side of the moat do you want to be on?"
I was hoping for a super fun ghost story, as I heard this book described as a cross between The Craft (one of my favorite movies) and Pretty Little Liars. Ended up just finding the plot super weak and laughable as far as paranormal elements but as just a fluff teen read, it did have its entertaining moments.