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Absolutely thrilled to participate in Turn the Page Tours’ Blog Tour for Kit Frick’s Very Bad People. Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, NetGalley, and Simon and Schuster for the eARC and hardcover in exchange for my honest review. Let’s dive right in!
In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.
Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.
Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.
As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Very Bad People Review:
I fell into reading Thrillers (both adult and YA) as a palate cleanser between high fantasy and epic series. Very Bad People was precisely what I was in the mood for and was a quick, gripping read that left me wanting more – can we have a sequel, please?
“Our mother loved all magical stories and consulted a variety of sources when naming her daughters, My name, Calliope, was drawn from ancient Greek myth. Lorelei owes her to German Folklore. Serafina is from seraphim, angels of the highest order in Abrahamic religious lore. Put us together, and we are part survival story, part fable, part cautionary tale.“– Very Bad People, Page 2
Calliope transfers into Tipton Academy to escape the stares and the stigma around the death of her mother’s accidental actions. By attending her mother’s alma mater, Calliope hopes to unravel the mystery of why her mother drove them into the water and connect to a side of the family that she has grown apart from. Once at Tipton, she gets recruited to a secret society run by her peers, built on bringing a sense of justice to the injustices they see on campus. Calliope has quite a bit of navigating between her willing (and not-so-willing) participation in the group’s acts, her own exploration of friendships and relationships, and the secrets those alive are still protecting.
“The society’s purposes will be to haunt and rail, that is to clandestinely observe injustices, inequities, and bad actors at Tipton Academy, and to rail against these wrongs.”– Very Bad People, Page 64
This book moves along at a breakneck pace, with a full cast of characters surrounding Calliope and her family. I would have loved to see fewer side characters in exchange for a handful of more fleshed-out ones. Still, I absolutely adore Kit Frick’s writing of Calliope. This book also did a much better job capturing her fellow classmates’ diverse lived experiences than most written in a private school setting.
One of my YA pet peeves is when writers write the teenagers as mini-adults – instead of the intelligent but often impulsive and fixated teens that I see in my life (and that I was!). Very Bad People avoided this! I was frustrated and worried about the characters and sometimes face-palming lousy decision-making.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that the ending felt incomplete – though I am not sure that was because I didn’t want to leave these characters behind or that I wanted a cleaner resolution to all the plot lines. All in all, I cannot wait to read another by Kit Frick.