Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Pretty Crooked

PRETTY CROOKED (Pretty Crooked #1)
Elisa Ludwig
Contemporary Young Adult
358 pages
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.

Rating 3.5/5


  1. Though I definitely appreciate the value of a cute, easy read, I'm pretty sure this isn't for me. I think I've reached my limit on cliched high school characters. I do really want to give Scarlet, the other Robin Hood retelling, a go though after reading great reviews from you and others!

  2. Ha, so you also only realized at the end that this is going to be a series? Me too! I was prepared reading a a Standalone when I realized there is no way to wrap everything up.

    I agree with you on the small and little romance part and I hope this is going to be explored more in the next book!

    All in all it was a cute, fun and light story!

  3. I'm glad you liked this well enough. I am reviewing it in a few weeks for TBS and have to start it soon. I do hate when a synopsis portrays a romance as a bigger part of a story than it ends up being - like in The Night Circus.

    Sorry I haven't commented for a few days. Happy, happy birthday! You only turn 30 once. Next year, you'll turn 29 again. That's what I plan to do, at least.

    Oh, I loved your Birthday Cover Critique. And I'm sort of glad you didn't like Halflings. Now I don't feel like I have to read it.

  4. This one sounds light and cute, but I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for at the moment. However, I do think it would be something my little cousin would enjoy, and her birthday is coming

  5. Adam has a small role? That's surprising ...The blurb makes it sound as if he's one of the protagonists ...Pity she doesn't speak up but I still want to give this one a gander :)

    Great review!
    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  6. I completely agree with your review as I gave this one a similar rating myself. I wasn't a big fan of Willa's actions though I know they are necessary otherwise it would be a completely different story. As for Aidan, I liked him but I agree that we don't really learn much about him or see him much. I completely agree with you about the ending, I found it to be very abrupt and I personally think the book should have been a little longer and tied things up a little better.

  7. I'm looking forward to this one despite the mixed reviews. Great and honest review.

  8. Enjoyable... Not earth-shattering... Hmmm. Were there any boys to add to the Lick List?! I mean this plays a HUGE roll in whether or not I must add it to my TBR!!

  9. YAY! This book may not have been the most complicated out there, but it was adorable and funny and whimsical and awesome, and I couldn't help but fall head over heels for it! :) I'm so happy you liked it too! I was hoping that Willa would try to use her voice to stop the bullying instead too, but maybe she will more in the sequel -- at least, that's what I'm hoping for!

    Amazing review, Jenny! Even if this book didn't blow you away, it was definitely a sweet read that's super smile-worthy! <3 :)

  10. Haha, Cinderella meets Robin Hood. I like. I'm slightly bummed, though, that there's not much romance between Aidan and Willa, only a spark. And this is supposed to be a series, right? Hmm...

    I'm debating whether or not I REALLY SHOULD read this. Chaotic endings and such? Not a big fan.

    We shall see, I suppose.

    Lovely review, Jenny, as always :)


  11. I didn't realize this was a modern take on Robin Hood! Sounds like a whole lot of fun! :)

  12. Nothing can be a standalone anymore, can it?

  13. Aylee - I loved Scarlet! Definitely a different feel from this one:)

    Danny - Yep. I'm challenged. I thought it was going to be a cute little stand alone. Wrong. About 30 pages out I'm all "this doesn't seem like it's going to get wrapped up anytime soon". Brilliant thought process on my part yet again:)

    Alison - It was fun, and good if you're in the mood for something that doesn't make you think too much:) I do wish Aiden had been more prominent though, he seemed like he was thrown in for the sake of having romance in this one, so hopefully that develops more in the next one:) And thanks for the birthday wishes!

    Natalie - Sounds like a perfect fit!

    Krazzyme - Yep, he just sort of popped in and out without fully developing (at least for me). I didn't believe in the relationship in this first book.

    Tiffany - Exactly. I was going along fine for the first half, and then I kept getting frustrated that Willa didn't come clean, and then the side story with her mom just confused me. I know it will be explained eventually, but there were too many questions at the end for me.

    Erin - As you should! We all have different thoughts on stories:)

    Ashley - Sort of. I feel like Aiden has lickable potential, but he wasn't quite there enough in this one for me to make a concrete decision ;-)

    Mimi - That's what I'm hoping for too since she was in the spotlight there at the end:) I have high hopes for book 2!

    Asher - Apparently it is a series, I was unaware when I picked it up:) Win. I liked the Willa storyline and I enjoyed the Aiden storyline though I wish it had been explored a bit more, but the shady situation with her mom was strange and I could have done without it.

    Leanna - It's fairly loosely based, mostly just the concept of "steal from the rich to give to the poor" :) It's a quick read, and enjoyable even with it's few flaws.

    Amanda - Nope. I can't even remember the last standalone I read.

  14. A modern Cinderella girl and Robin Hood? I had no idea!! I will definitely push this up on my TBR pile. Awesome review, Jenny!

  15. ...but their attraction to one another does very little to get our pulses racing.

    Boo! I've gotten to the point where I NEED a LEGIT romance in a book to be able to trudge through it.

    Don't know if this one is for me...

    Regardless, thanks for the great review Jenny! Oh, and HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!

  16. We are review twins today :)

  17. It's a modern Cinderella girl and Robin Hood? Wow, those two stories are really different from each other. Though it does sound cute and enjoyable, I don't think it's for me. I'll take a pass on this one.

  18. Meh. Call me shallow but brief interaction with the hot guy wouldn't be enough to hold my interest. Though it seems like more between the characters will develop as this series continues, I already have a beloved YA series to get my Heist fix from. LOL

  19. Sometimes I need to read something lighter since I've just read a couple of sad and serious books. I thought Aiden would have a bigger role but I guess there's always book 2.

  20. This sounds like a really fun read! I saw it on Netgalley, but didn't request it. It sounds like something my daughter would really love. :) Thanks for sharing!

  21. Hafsah - It was a cute combination of elements, and I really loved the first half. Things just got a bit jumbled in the second half for me:)

    Avery - ME TOO! I just need some quality tension, something that gives me goosebumps:) And thank you for the birthday wishes!

    Tara - We are:)

    Rummanah - It's not so much a Cinderella story given that the Cinderella part has already happened. She was poor and then her mom made quite a bit of money so they're wealthier, but all that happened before we meet Willa. I feel like that element will come into play in later books though.

    Missie - I wanted to fall in love with Aiden, and I just couldn't in this one since I didn't know him well enough.

    Jenny - I thought so too based on the blurb, but he really wasn't in it that much. Based on the end, I think he'll be more involved in the next book:)

    Christy - It was fun, and sometimes that's enough:)

  22. Hi Jenny! Happy Monday, this is sitting in my review pile, will be coming up for me soon. Sounds like it is entertaining but I am not thrilled about the ending. Oh well, at least it is a departure from the dark dystopian. I need a light easy read. I am glad you liked it for the most part.

  23. I just started this one and Adian is driving me crazy! What a jerk--and she likes him! (omg, I remember when hormones made me stupid so I probably should cut the girl some slack).

    I haven't gotten to her Robin Hood deeds yet but I don't like how she lets the Glitterati run over the other girls. I can't see how hidden actions would be louder than out-in-the-open words (or actions).

  24. I do not know, stealing is never a good idea. And that girl would end up in jail

  25. Heidi - I think I was more surprised at the ending because I went in thinking it was a standalone so all the craziness at the end took me by surprise:)

    Mary - I agree. I wanted her to speak up instead of stay in the shadows pretending to be something she isn't.

    Linda - It's not. But it makes for an entertaining read:)

  26. Lovely review, Jenny. I agree with a lot of your points. I read this a while ago and think I gave it a 4-star rating. not usually my type of thing, but I loved how quick and fun it was to read. :) Glad you liked it mostly, too.

  27. I have to be honest... the cover doesn't thrill me nor does the synopsis. You present enough to me to make me think it might be okay for a cute read, but that ending with all the chaos? Hm.. maybe not. Maybe I just need to be in a mood for it. Either way... you know I enjoyed your review. I love your writing!

  28. I think the modern day Robin Hood is becoming a bit of a familiar theme... but the book does sound cute. I gotta say that I think she should use words as well and that might be something that bothers me. Or it may not... I'll have to give it a try!

  29. I admit, I was pretty disappointed with the ending on this one. But I still enjoyed Pretty Crooked quite a bit! I was in the mood for cute and fluffy at the time. Wonderful review, Jenny; thanks! :)

  30. Oo, you're always one step ahead with your reviews! This one was a fun read and it's only when I started analyzing it, that I realized just how much fluff there is. Still, I don't regret the time spent on it since it helped me delay writing my essay :)

  31. Sounds like a fun premise! That must be kind of irritating to think this was a stand-alone novel and then be surprised at the end it'll be a series?

  32. I just wrote my review for this one to post later next week I think. I felt the same way. Kinda misled. And like I was reading two different books- what story was that at the end? And I really want to know what Aidan did. So, I'll probably read the next one if I can get it off NG. I go with your score on the book. I could have used some more face time with Aidan, as Ashley said, he could be "lickable" but how are we to know?


  33. This looks cute and has a fun cover, I think yours is the first positive review Ive seen for it...:) Is Robin Hood going to the next phase of retellings....hmmmmmm

  34. I have to review this for The Teen Book Scene. I'm glad it's light. Sounds like fun! Too bad Aidan isn't in it that much. That's definitely misleading! Great review.

  35. Thanks so much for the review! I need a light read and this book sounds like it would do the trick!!

  36. Pretty Crooked was definitely one of those cute and fun books! There are nothing heavy or anything. I was also super surprised by the ending--I had no clue it was going to be a series! And you're definitely on point about the Aidan part. He didn't really seem that big of a character. LOVE the review, Jenny! <3

  37. In all reality, this particular retelling was going to be rough to do as a contemp novel. It started out pretty good (although I'm going to be annoyingly nitpicky and tell you that half of the Paradise Valley/AZ references bothered me...I'm good like that). I guess, like you said, it really came down to her not saying anything worried about being exiled and instead stole from people. No matter those people had the money, still wasn't cool. Plus, I'm still confused about that ending and would have loved more of the boy. He just seemed more like a random friend who gave her a run for her money rather than the romancing guy he was supposed to be. I'm done rambling. Love you!

  38. I'm actually picking this one up now and I'm super curious to see how I'll like it! I love Robin Hood, lol. I'm really glad you liked it, even if it wasn't mind-blowing. Those read are nice at times too!

  39. Oh, the Glitteratti. That even sounds like a group of mean girls.

    Sounds like an interesting book to check out of the library. Great honest review, Jenny! :)

  40. Sometimes a cute and light read is exactly what I need between heavier books or issue-type contemporary books...I have this one and will keep it in mind for such a time! Thanks Jenny!

  41. This might actually be just the book for me! I've been craving a book that's a cute and light read. And you say it's a female version of Robin Hood? Well, I mean, Robin Hood was my favorite Disney movie when I was a kid. It almost sounds like Pretty Crooked and I would be a pretty keen match!

    Seriously though, I've heard mixed reviews about this book, but I know I've just gotta get my hands on it. I don't even know why I think it will so appealing. Has that ever happened to you? Like, you really *really* want to read a certain book, buy you can't explain why?