PRETTY CROOKED (Pretty Crooked #1)
Contemporary Young Adult
Katherine Tegen Books
Available March 13th
Received via NetGalley for review
THE STORY (From Barnes and Noble)
Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.
Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.
The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
A cute and light read, Pretty Crooked gives us a modernized female version of Robin Hood that, while not necessarily bringing anything new to the table, definitely entertains nonetheless. The girls of the Glitteratti are stereotypical in nature, spoiled young women who believe their money excuses them from being decent human beings and who spread lies and prejudice with the same smile plastered on their faces they have when they swipe their black American Express cards. Even though we’ve seen these girls before and will no doubt see them again in future young adult books, our hatred for they way they treat others burns just as bright as it has in the past, and our desire to see them reap what they sow grows from a slow simmer to a raging boil by the end.
Willa is a self-proclaimed Cinderella girl in this tale, her sudden transition from transient and financially conservative lifestyle to extremely comfortable and stable environment one that makes her someone we can really root for knowing she’s had a foot on either side of the high school dividing line. Though we support the intent driving her thieving actions, we can’t help but wish she might use her voice to attempt change at Valley Prep, speaking up and coming to the public defense of those on the receiving end of the Glitteratti’s disdain as opposed to remaining in the shadows and resorting to criminal activity. Obviously, that would alter the entire premise of this story, but so many times Willa stays silent when she could easily open her mouth to become a Robin Hood in words rather than deeds, altering the balance of power–however slightly–by throwing her vocal support behind those who most need it rather than pretending to support those who don’t deserve it.
In addition to the almost overwhelming need to have Willa come clean regarding her cloak and dagger actions, the relationship between our resident Robin Hood and beautiful, popular Aidan Murphy is not quite all that the synopsis might have us believe. Aidan actually plays a very small role in this tale, only popping up here and there to rattle Willa with his charming arrogance, but their attraction to one another does very little to get our pulses racing. Aside from his haughty attitude and the few brief indications we're given that he’s different from the rest of the rich kids at Valley Prep, we know very little about him, and therefore Willa’s reaction to him is a bit lost on us as it’s apparent she can see more of him than we ourselves are able to.
The ending is a bit chaotic, the consequences of Willa’s actions intersecting with a rather shady situation regarding her mother as well as a stunt Aidan pulls to get himself expelled from school. The only information we are privy to is that of Willa’s illegal extracurricular activities, and we reach the last page a bit surprised to find this is clearly going to be a series rather than a stand alone novel. The slow progression of Willa learning who the girls she calls friends really are and deciding to do something about it is just a touch at odds with the rapidity of concluding events, but ultimately it’s a story worth reading for those who are looking for something simply enjoyable without being earth-shattering or mind-blowing.