Book Review: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
Published March 13th 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA, Chick Lit
Reading Level: 13 & Up
ISBN 0062066064 (ISBN 13: 9780062066060)
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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 ultra-exclusive 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 pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.
The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.
But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
Ah, high school; the classes, the lunches, the cliques of snobby girls and self-absorbed boys. The pickpocketing and housebreaking? High school was never like that for me! But Valley Prep is no ordinary school in Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig. Let me just get one thing straight. The main character, Willa, is insane. Not because she starts a crime spree and has delusions of being Robin Hood. Oh no. Willa is insane because she is riding a bike through the deserts of Arizona. In the first few chapters we establish that her bike is her only way of getting around and she rides it to school and everywhere else. Even to other towns. This is clearly a mark of a crazy person. I don’t care how young or fit you are, nobody rides their bike through the heat of Arizona in summer and not keel over dead.
I enjoyed Pretty Crooked. It was cute. I thought there was just enough introspection on Willa’s part to make her decision to steal from the rich girls believable but not drawn out. She’s a teenager, so impulse control is sort of nonexistent. But she’s also one smart cookie. So there was just enough soul-searching to create a balance. My biggest grip is, once again, the romance. Willa and Adian fall into that old cliché where Willa doesn’t really like Adian because he’s kind of a jerk but never mind that because he’s hot and makes Willa all tingly. (sigh) Maybe I’m expecting too much from teenage characters or there is a decided lack of originality in YA books when it comes to love-interests. It seems to be a cruel pattern. I was rather hoping Willa would drift to Tre but it looks like he’s just a friend. I rather thought they’d make a better match.
But the best parts didn’t happen until the end of the book. I cannot wait for the sequel. I’m more interested in what Willa’s mother was up to and who that man she was sneaking off to see was. Was it really Willa’s father? Does the calling card Willa found belong to him? Was that man that ransacked Willa’s house really sent by the Glitterati or perhaps someone more sinister? I can see this turning into a type of super-secret agent girl. If Willa’s father is really the FBI agent who left his card, why did her mother choose to keep them apart? The suggested mountain of secrets is just delicious.
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig was good but the hints for the sequel were even better. I liked the characters, even with the irritating structure of the romance. It was a fun read. You find yourself rooting for Willa even as you know her actions are going to eventually bite her in the ass. Pretty Crooked also has a good example of cyber-bullying and just why we need better laws against it and why parents need to be more proactive in their teenagers’ social and internet activity. (I could do a whole rant about the cyber-bullying but I’ll spare you my rage.) I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel.
Rating: 3.5 / 5