Bentley’s Grade: B+
Title: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher and Date: Simon Pulse; Simon and Schuster 2017
Page Length: 285
Genre: YA Thriller
Although Ivy broke his heart and sent him into a month-long funk, Xavier agrees to get back together with his ex-girlfriend. Sasha, Xavier’s best friend and the novel’s protagonist, believes that Ivy has no intention of remaining faithful, so she decides to catfish Ivy by creating a fake Instagram account. In the weeks that follow, “Jake” (aka Sasha) and Ivy engage in a series of intimate DMs and text messages, all of which Sasha plans to reveal to Xavier as hard proof of Ivy’s infidelity; however, after a failed attempt to confront Ivy, Sasha makes more than a few poor decisions—decisions that land Ivy with a sweater full a rocks on the bottom of the Florida Everglades.
I was skeptical of the novel at first, but I found it to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s a very quick read—three to five hours depending on your speed. The language is plain and simple, which I suppose reflects the age of the intended readership. I have to tell you, I am (more than slightly) ashamed to admit that I did not see two important twists coming. The final twist, combined with my inability to predict said twist, boosted the novel’s original grade of B- to a B+.
Rather tedious best describes the pace of Part One, though the slow crescendo does help to contrast and thus heighten the pace of Part Two where the majority of the action takes place as we follow Sasha and Xavier on their southern-bound road trip. Although essential for building suspense, the cliffhangers that close the majority of the chapters in the first half of the novel become somewhat repetitive and predictable.
The characters themselves are not very original and are rather hyperbolic: the handsome (but doesn’t know it) boyfriend, the wild and rebellious girlfriend, the introverted best friend who pretends not to care (but really does care)—these are characters we’ve seen time and again; and yet, together they work to create the perfect recipe for a plot that’s fuelled by teenage angst, emotion, and drama.
“[T]hat was the problem with words, even if you didn’t mean them, once they were out there they did things. They did things, just floating around in the air like that” (120).
What really works for this novel are the multiple points of view. Each chapter begins with the character’s name, with the exception of those that consist of Instagram DMs and text messages (and a handful of unnamed chapters, which I will come back to shortly). We are told the story through Sasha’s first person and Xavier’s third person accounts. Interestingly, Sasha’s POV briefly switches from first to second person in Part Two; this is a great technique, for it heightens Sasha’s sense of separation from the self and from the situation she finds herself in.
The unnamed and entirely italicized chapters can’t be truly appreciated until after we learn the murderer’s identity. At first you think they are written from Ivy’s POV, and then you wonder if it’s from Sasha’s. But as Part Two gets going you know you’ve been completely off base. If you’re like me, you will have ignored this secondary character and written them off as unimportant; the murderer was there all along in italicized font. Well done on those false leads, Weingarten.
I really appreciate the open ending—it’s not neat and tidy, and I like that. It’s sort of a choose your own adventure, allowing the imagination to create whatever the future might hold for these characters.
For my first foray into the YA thriller, I am more than pleased; in fact, I am pleased as punch. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces reminds me that to be young is to be hormonal and that teenagers, and humans more generally, are capable of anything. If you’re looking for an easy read with some surprising twists that keep you hooked to the end, I recommend promptly picking up a copy.
What did you think? Leave a comment below.