Release Date: October 11, 2011
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. Seriously? Not cool.
But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.
This book was a laugh fest for me. Not because I was laughing at it, but because I was laughing with it. Gemma Halliday really knows how to write her characters to feel like real people with really outrageous problems, and with appropriate reactions and dialogue. The relationship between Hartley (the heroine of the novel) and her best friend, Sam, is very tangible and real. Sam might be Hartley’s best friend, but she was not afraid of telling it how it was, and vice-versa. Hartley is a very likable character as well. She is smart, sarcastic, and pretty, yet she is not stuck up or cliquey. She is loyal to her boyfriend, even though he is not loyal to her, and that’s a quality I really admired in her.
The plot is a bit outrageous but totally something I would expect to see in a movie. Hartley spends all day fielding rumors that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the chastity club, of all people, and by the end of the day she decides enough is enough and that she was going to face this problem head on. She enlists the help of her best friend to sneak into her boyfriend’s house to confront him, only what she finds is not what she expected. She finds the dead body of the girl he has been cheating on her with. This unleashes a series of events that lead to two separate investigations, the official one being headed by the police (where Hartley’s soon to be ex-boyfriend is the main suspect) and the unofficial one Hartley heads up to prove the innocence of the very guy who just cheated on her. All this she does, not just because she loves her cheating boyfriend, but because deep down she believes in his innocence.
Along the way Hartley meets Chase, the editor of the school’s online paper, who helps her with the investigation with the condition that when they find the killer the school paper would get to have the exclusive. Chase is your stereotypical bad-boy-who-is-not-a loser-but-actually-pretty-smart-and-good-looking deal. He put a whole new spin on the case by using his investigative skills. As a tech geek I was very impressed with Chase’s hacking skills, which he used for tracking IP addresses and intercepting text messages. Really cool stuff if you ask me.
The story is filled with twists and turns that will have you holding on to your book for dear life. Just when you think Hartley has found the guilty party, something else totally unexpected happens that shifts around the list of suspects. At times I caught myself starting a whole new investigation of my own using the clues Hartley had. It is a very fun, entertaining read, not to mention well written. I won’t say this story blew me away, but I really enjoyed it and am definitely looking forward to the sequel Social Suicide. Highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for something light and entertaining to read.