Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Format read: E-ARC via NetGalley
Readers will undoubtedly find the book a satisfying conclusion to Taylor's popular series, while also hoping that Taylor will bring us back to Anne's world in the immediate future.
It’s August and Anne is back in New York City for the summer, but she can’t escape the memories of the terrible things that happened at the Wheatley School last spring— and the possibility of being expelled looming over her. When an unexpected— and suspicious— turn of events gets Anne sent back to Wheatley, she’s determined to figure out what happened to her favorite teacher and only adult ally at the school: Ms. Cross.
After a shocking, gruesome murder with connections to the Wheatley School occurs, Anne is convinced there’s more to Ms. Cross’s sudden disappearance, and that her favorite teacher is in danger. But after an ugly breakup with Brent and a new, inexplicable distance between her and Anthony, Anne isn’t sure who she can trust. And even worse, someone at Wheatley knows the truth about what happened to Ms. Cross— someone who will stop at nothing to keep Anne from learning the truth in this engrossing, unputdownable read.
With good reason. Deadly Little Sins is not only a seriously excellent book in its own right, it's also a very strong ending to the trilogy on a whole. Kara has escalated Anne's story with each and every book, and brings the reader along for one final mystery involving Wheatley School.
Things that worked:
Anne has really grown up over the course of the past three books - a fact that Taylor makes clear very early on.
She's still quick-witted and prone to hilarious, deadpan observations about her life, but she's also more reflective about what she's been through. The deaths and mysteries of the previous two books haven't left her unaffected, and she's now more reflective on how her actions have impacted her and the people around her, particularly her family.
While this is not only interesting character growth, it also gives Anne's decision to pursue the mystery behind Ms. Cross's disappearance more urgency and gravitas. This is someone who is very aware of what she has to lose now, but is still willing to do what she can to find her teacher/friend.
The secondary characters are also excellent as well. Taylor is exceptionally skilled at not only integrating characters from previous novels, while introducing characters who appear and disappear out of Anne's life, to help drive this mystery along.
From the very first chapter, the mystery in this book was definitely the most surprising out of all of the three books. I frequently thought I knew which way the storyline was heading, only to be surprised by sudden twists and turns that I genuinely didn't see coming.
Without actually giving the mystery away, I would also say that this is the most psychological out of all of the stories that Anne's been involved with to date. There's a certain degree of psychological thriller to what Anne's looking into, which really amps up the stakes and allows the reader to dig deeper into Anne's mindset and all those involved.
There's definitely hints of romance in the book - including Anne finally hitting that point where she realizes what and who she wants - but Taylor smartly allows the romance to take a back burner to the overall mystery.
I loved this choice on Taylor's part. By having Anne redirect her energies to the mystery rather than (admittedly cute) boys, she's showing that she really has grown up, and understands the stakes. More importantly, it shows that she's willing to take the time to figure out what she wants - just another sign she's grown up.
The bookish things:
Writing/plotting/pacing: Taylor has gotten better and better with every book, and she knocks it out of the park with Deadly Little Sins.
There's an ease to her writing, where you can tell she really gets inside Anne's head now, and understands everything that makes her heroine tick.
Kara mentioned to me via Twitter that the ending has garnered a mixed reaction from readers. Without giving any spoilers away, I personally think that the ending is actually a perfect way to lead Anne into the next phase of her life.
Yes, it's a little out there. But it's also a brilliant recognition of the fact that everything Anne has gone through hasn't been for nothing, and this is the universe's way of recognizing that she is actually a very talented young lady with a lot to offer the world. It's kind of like the
YMMV, but I'm personally hoping that the ending also means we may meet up with Anne in the future, as well.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Kara has not only wrapped up plot lines that have evolved over the course of the series, she's also given Anne the type of conclusion to her character arc that is a perfect recognition of what she's been through, while also leaving the door open for future possibility.
(And man - what a potential future Anne has ahead of her!)
The final mystery is a thriller that pushes Anne beyond anything she's every experienced, but the payoff - especially the ending - will undoubtedly make readers hope that Taylor returns to Anne's world, and very soon.
I strongly recommend this for contemporary YA fans, particularly readers who have grown up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries like I have. Read this series and read this book - you'll love it.
About the author:
Kara Taylor wrote PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL in her first semester of graduate school, in between pulling all nighters and listening to her dad say writing isn't a real job. She recently signed a blind script deal with Warner Brothers television and is now the writer and co-executive producer of THE REVENGERS, a dramedy in development at The CW with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER). She lives on Long Island.