Cover Image: Very Bad People

Very Bad People

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Member Reviews

This book was a really quick and engaging read. Overall it's a good read for those who like dark academia. There's a mysterious maternal death to solve, a secret society that puts an emphasis on secrets, and some nice romance to cap it all off. I found it very easy to be interested in Calliope and her story. She's a character with many layers, but she's someone it's easy to feel for and root for. There are some times when she makes a questionable choice when there are lots of red flags blaring at her. Many of those choices are out of fear, which is reasonable, but I wish that fear and anxiety had been played up a little more to make it more believable to me that she would ignore some of the red flags. But as a whole I really liked how the interplay of grief, wanting to belong, and curiosity shape Calliope and give some extra layers to this mystery thriller.

I do have to say, the ending of the story did bring the overall rating down a bit for me. There were reveals about the truth that I did like – not necessarily big and dramatic, but still unexpected. But without giving anything away, the ending was really ambiguous. Calliope basically has to make a really important decision at the end of the book, and it's shown that she makes a decision, but not what that decision is. Some people may not mind that kind of ambiguous ending, but for me it was kind of a let down. That being said, I still really liked the book, I just did not like the ending.

Something I really liked about the book was its portrayal of grief. Mysteries and thrillers often focus on emotions like fear when it comes to death, often because there's a threat of someone coming after the characters now. But this story deals with the mystery of the death of Calliope's mother, which happened six years ago. We get to see how Calliope tries to feel close to her mom as a teenager, the different ways her family members cope and grieve, and how both secrets and mysteries surrounding the death haunt different characters. I found the portrayal realistic and interesting, as well as how grief as well as the difficulty of forgiveness is brought up when things start to get revealed. I think this element definitely made the book stronger and gave it its own unique feel.

3.5 stars
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Im still trying to push myself to read this im at like 5 characters in. Maybe the author isnt for me i believe she has another book that ive read and i think i didnt rate it that either. Might give her another go
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The beginning of this story was captivating and got me hooked, but the ending fell a little flat. Still a decent mystery that teens will enjoy.
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A young adult dark academia thriller that follows Calliope, and six years ago her mother drove the family van into a lake with her and her sisters inside, they escaped but their mother drowned. But the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery and Calliope is determined to solve and find the truth. She chooses to be transferred to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother attended. Tipton Academy welcomes her with a look into the past and an exclusive secret society, Haunt and Rail. When this secret society unfolds things look like they are lining up, but not everything is like it seems. 
Going into this book all I knew about this book was an accident and the secret society set around a boarding school. There were parts I liked and others not so much. The plot had a lot going on but never overdid one plotline over another, it’s balanced well. This is hard to cover as I don't want to overshare so, here are a few things I like, the setting. A boarding school is one of my favorite settings to read about, as they are filled with drama, secrets and just an overall mysterious feel to it. Next, the secret society, even though at times I did not enjoy everything about it, there were parts I liked. Like, how they would make change happen in their school for the better while, other parts I wasn’t crazy about, but it was still a wild ride. Something I didn't care too much about was the love interest they felt kinda like two characters mixed together and very insta-love. 
With all that said, the writing style was good, Kit Frick did a good job at dropping hints and clues, throughout we're you felt you were leaning along with Calliope, so the reader wasn't being fed the clues, but some things I felt I could guess. I wish we got to know her sister a bit more. It does feel like a classic YA mystery smashed with a modern lifestyle and themes.  
If you are looking for a fast read then this might be a good read for you. This YA dark academia thriller is a self-journey, nail-biter of twist and turn, about finding truths even when that truth comes with pain.
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This was an entertaining book but I found the ending disappointing. This will be verry popular - strong  teen appeal.
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Very Bad People by Kit Frick is a young adult mystery/thriller novel. The story in this novel is set in an elite boarding school with a mystery to the present and a mystery from the past to solve.. If you're into dark academia, this one is for you! Very Bad People is perfect for fans of Karen M. McManus. This was such a great read, I loved this school secret society, and the mystery was fantastic!


I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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A mysterious death, a secret society, a YA dark academia plot.. ummm yes, please! 

The first 30 pages into it, I was intrigued. I thought for sure I was going to praise it highly. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out that way. The best way to sum up my feelings is to say, this book was simply not for me. I can see how other readers would enjoy this book, but how the story unfolded was its personal shortcoming for me.

After the initial intrigue into the newspaper article about her mother's death, it all started digressing. I felt that the pacing just lagged for a thriller until about 80% into it and then only for the ending to pick up and leave you hanging. It felt like the end was the entire peak and then the story was left there so there were lots of plots that were inconclusive. To be honest, I don't mind an ambiguous ending, but in this case, it was so abrupt. This book covers serious topics, which I enjoyed, but I struggled with feeling any strong emotions toward the characters as I disliked everyone except Nico! I'm bummed because I really thought I was going to enjoy it, but I'm glad to see others are! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for giving me this copy in exchange for my review.
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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

Hmm....I'm not sure what to say here.  I wasn't hooked from the beginning but the more I read the more interested I got.  There were a couple of shocking things I didn't see coming but overall it was just ok.  I actually thought I was missing some of the book because of that ending, which I know will drive some people crazy.  I'm still looking for that next book by Kit Frick that got me so much with "See all the Stars".
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This story was just OK.  It started out interesting but lagged in the middle.  I wasn’t a fan of the society she joins and the way that they treat her.  The mystery surrounding her mother’s death was intriguing but fizzled out when the school stuff started and then when it finally got around to it, it was too little, too late.  

I received a copy from #NetGalley for an honest review.
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This YA mystery kept me reading late into the night, even though I'm older than its target audience. Haunt and Rail is a boarding-school secret society with a twist: rather than perpetuating privilege like Yale's Skull and Bones, this group stages Anonymous-style pranks to accelerate action on social justice issues like fair wages for campus workers. But when they target a teacher suspected of sexual misconduct, the moral issues raised by vigilante justice become a lot more serious.

Our teenage narrator, Calliope, is slapped in the face, metaphorically speaking, with the possibility that there are no "very bad people," just people who do bad things for understandable reasons, or achieve good aims through questionable means. Sure, this is a predictable consequence of growing up, but it's a lesson we often need to re-learn at any age. I think that's why the book didn't feel too juvenile for me, an adult reader. On the Internet, everyone is potentially an anonymous contributor to mob rule based on simplistic narratives of good and evil.

Calliope was a weak main character in some ways. The fast pace and satisfying surprises of the plot mostly made up for her lack of a center. She didn't have any strongly held interests or passions besides investigating her mother's death, and she gave in to peer pressure every single time when the dominant members of Haunt and Rail bullied others.

There were a lot of minor characters introduced early on. It took awhile to get all the students' names, appearances, and roles straight. Some of them were unnecessary. However, I liked how the author made each person visually distinctive in terms of appearance, body language, and energy, with just a sentence or two.

With two main plotlines going already, I understand not wanting to slow down the book with more issues. But it stuck out for me that the two girls who spearheaded the most morally questionable and extreme actions were white, the girl they scapegoated was Latina, yet no one in this demographically diverse left-wing student group brought up racial tensions. That doesn't fit my experience of campus politics!

I disagree with reviewers who said the ending was too ambiguous. The main story arcs about the secret society and the cause of her mother's death were both resolved. We don't know what she decides to do about keeping the secrets she unwillingly holds. That final loose thread leaves room for us to ask ourselves, what would WE do? The whole point of the story is that there are no easy answers.
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4/5 stars
.
.
.
Very Bad People by Kit Frick was not what I expected, but it was still good. The twist and shocks in this book were crazy, and they had me on the edge of my seat. But the plot was a little weird. It almost reminded me of House of Hollow, and for a few chapters I wondered if the characters had paranormal abilities or something (they didn’t). I liked the boarding school setting, although it was a bit hard to picture. The characters were decent, and I loved the unreliable narrator  aspect. The pacing was also done well and I loved how each part showed the passage of time. Overall, this book wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be, but it was still a good book nevertheless. I’d definitely recommend it!
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Based on the first half of this novel, I thought it was going to be my favorite Kit Frick story to date. While I did enjoy the binge-worthy read, and believe me it IS binge-worthy, I found a lot of the conclusion just not leaving me satisfied. The mystery behind the mom's death was a little whomp-whomp, and the ambiguous ending felt like the author didn't take a stand on the content that is discussed and rode the middle of the line, although that last part is really more of a personal observance rather than objective. Still a big fan, as I finished the audiobook in a single day, but hoping the next book she writes is a step closer to her debut.
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Very Bad People is another heavyweight YA mystery from an intriguing voice in the genre. Kit Frick has created smash-hit after smash-hit and this is no exception with its tight plotting and fantastic character work.

Frick wastes no time at all delving into the mystery. From the first page, she effectively sets the scene with the mystery of what really happened that day and the sudden horror and death. This family trip descends into chaos and death, the truth of which will only be discovered as you journey through. All of this makes for an intense and thrilling read from start to end. Frick’s writing style is so wonderfully concise, yet descriptive at the same time. It is incredibly immersive and fast-paced, while also allowing time for you to settle into the headspaces of these characters and empathise with them. The entire cast here is very three-dimensional and realistic, right down to the witty and sparkling dialogue between them. The setting amplifies this, with the claustrophobia of the boarding school emphasising the mystery and adding a slight Gothic touch. It feels ominous and foreboding. You always feel like someone is watching over your shoulder and can practically taste the oncoming disaster. Frick’s engaging, intriguing and cutting writing style seamlessly strings all of this together to create a riveting read.

This book has such an excellent and intriguing premise, which Frick exploits to its fullest potential. Very Bad People is a thought-provoking book that questions the line between justice and revenge, with a fascinating secret society centered around social activism and justice. I mean that entire concept is just endlessly fascinating and engaging. The discussion Frick opens up about justification and ethical reasoning for particular actions is so nuanced and three-dimensional. It is a complicated morality of guilt, loss and devastation on display here, with almost every character engaged in this spider’s web of duplicity and betrayal. You can completely understand the motivations and justifications for particular actions, but they also leave an uneasy taste in your mouth. This is not a book that allows for clean, neat and easy solutions. Instead, Frick steeps the book in that gray area where you are not really sure of the right answer. She leaves it up to the reader’s own interpretation and moral code to really decide what they align with by the ending. Speaking of which, Frick makes no exception in her ambiguity for the ending. It is left fairly open and ethically dubious, offering the ambiguity over to the reader, who in  a way has become the new detective.

The central mystery is so well put-together by Frick. Of course, there are twists and turns aplenty, which are genuinely surprising and have consequences for the entire story. I liked how every action here has actual consequences, with chains of events being set off by seemingly small details. Because Frick gives you time and space to become invested in the characters, the twists pay off that much more. Frick opts for mostly emotionally devastating twists, the type that are a real gut-punch for our characters. This really works, precisely because of the character development and work you have seen play out previously. The two interlocking timelines of events adds to the sense of drama, as you have the hazy recollection of that fateful day interspersed with the actions of the present. Frick’s way of tying it all together is so clever and really plays with your expectations.

Very Bad People is one of those YA mysteries you cannot get out of your head. From its important discussions to its mind-boggling twists, Frick puts in the time and work to create something truly special.
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I didn’t really care for Very Bad People. I don’t know that I can put my finger specifically on what it was that I didn’t like. But I think it was the main character. She was lying to everyone, treated everyone very poorly. She just continued to do really not smart things and it was hard to root for her because of that.
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Six years ago, Calliope's mom drowned in a tragic car accident. Calliope and her two younger sisters survived the crash, but they never knew exactly what caused their mother to drive into the lake, and it's haunted Calliope ever since. Now, at sixteen, she's heading to Tipton Academy, the same boarding school her mom and aunt attended. Once there, she's invited to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society at Tipton that she discovers her mom was a member of as well, too. Haunt and Rail's members, or "ghosts," are committed to social justice causes, but when they rally around exposing a faculty member, Calliope realizes that some of the members may go too far for what they believe. Calliope soon discovers a tie between Haunt and Rail and her mom's death. But the more she investigates, the more she may be in danger.

This twisty young adult thriller starts off a little slow, but quickly picks up. It's rather dark, since it involves her mother's death, and Calliope is quite devastated (understandably) by her passing. Boarding school mysteries can go either way, but this one is intriguing and also presents a diverse cast with plenty of representation, which I always appreciate. The secret society is a fun way to go, and there are plenty of surprising twists. Calliope is a great main character, and she's easy to root for. I also enjoyed that she has a romance, but it's in no way the focus of this YA story--how refreshing, right? There is an ambiguous ending, which -- ahh -- but I still really enjoyed this one. If you like your YA ominous, diverse, and twisty, you'll enjoy this one.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher of this novel for the E-Arc copy. I am rating this book based on my own personal opinion and was not given anything in return. I am not leaving a entire review because I read so many at a time that I physically cannot right now.
#VeryBadPeople #NetGalley
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Very Bad People is another heavyweight YA mystery from an intriguing voice in the genre. Frick has created smash-hit after smash-hit and this is no exception with its tight plotting and fantastic character work. 

Frick wastes no time at all delving into the mystery. From the first page, she effectively sets the scene with the mystery of what really happened that day and the sudden horror and death. This family trip descends into chaos and death, the truth of which will only be discovered as you journey through. All of this makes for an intense and thrilling read from start to end. Frick’s writing style is so wonderfully concise, yet descriptive at the same time. It is incredibly immersive and fast-paced, while also allowing time for you to settle into the headspaces of these characters and empathise with them. The entire cast here is very three-dimensional and realistic, right down to the witty and sparkling dialogue between them. The setting amplifies this, with the claustrophobia of the boarding school emphasising the mystery and adding a slight Gothic touch. It feels ominous and foreboding. You always feel like someone is watching over your shoulder and can practically taste the oncoming disaster. Frick’s engaging, intriguing and cutting writing style seamlessly strings all of this together to create a riveting read. 

This book has such an excellent and intriguing premise, which Frick exploits to its fullest potential. Very Bad People is a thought-provoking book that questions the line between justice and revenge, with a fascinating secret society centered around social activism and justice. I mean that entire concept is just endlessly fascinating and engaging. The discussion Frick opens up about justification and ethical reasoning for particular actions is so nuanced and three-dimensional. It is a complicated morality of guilt, loss and devastation on display here, with almost every character engaged in this spider’s web of duplicity and betrayal. You can completely understand the motivations and justifications for particular actions, but they also leave an uneasy taste in your mouth. This is not a book that allows for clean, neat and easy solutions. Instead, Frick steeps the book in that gray area where you are not really sure of the right answer. She leaves it up to the reader’s own interpretation and moral code to really decide what they align with by the ending. Speaking of which, Frick makes no exception in her ambiguity for the ending. It is left fairly open and ethically dubious, offering the ambiguity over to the reader, who in  a way has become the new detective.  

The central mystery is so well put-together by Frick. Of course, there are twists and turns aplenty, which are genuinely surprising and have consequences for the entire story. I liked how every action here has actual consequences, with chains of events being set off by seemingly small details. Because Frick gives you time and space to become invested in the characters, the twists pay off that much more. Frick opts for mostly emotionally devastating twists, the type that are a real gut-punch for our characters. This really works, precisely because of the character development and work you have seen play out previously. The two interlocking timelines of events adds to the sense of drama, as you have the hazy recollection of that fateful day interspersed with the actions of the present. Frick’s way of tying it all together is so clever and really plays with your expectations. 

Very Bad People is one of those YA mysteries you cannot get out of your head. From its important discussions to its mind-boggling twists, Frick puts in the time and work to create something truly special.
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Calliope has never quite gotten over her mother's death years ago when her mother suddenly drove off the road into a lake with her children as passengers. Now a junior in high school, Calliope transfers to her mother's old boarding school and finds some connection to her through a secret society that has been a part of making meaningful changes for justice throughout the school's history.

I read I Killed Zoe Spanos by Frick at the end of 2020 and was pleasantly surprised by that book - I gave it 5 stars - so I was happy to receive an early copy of Very Bad People, even if I only got it a day early!

What did I like about this book? I liked the boarding school setting, as I normally do. I really enjoyed the idea of Haunt and Rail, the secret society dedicated to creating social justice. It was interesting to see the idea of a secret society used for good instead of straight mischief or evil. I also liked the importance of family to Calliope; it's rare for a YA protagonist to be so involved with her family, especially when they move away. What was I not such a fan of? I think the pacing for this book was strange. Nothing happened for a good portion of the book, and then when something finally happened, the book cuts off. I was anticipating another 30 pages at least. I didn't really connect to the characters and I thought the romance subplot was really unnecessary.

Overall, this book had some cool ideas, but won't have much staying power in my mind.
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Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing( Margaret K. McElderry Books) and NetGalley  for the chance to read and review Very Bad People, this was an engaging YA suspense thriller with strong writing, well developed characters, and thoughtful questions about right/wrong, justice, and some ideas about privilege and education.  I am a reader who loves books set in boarding schools and add in a secret society theme and I am all set.

3 strong aspects of Very Bad People
1.  I liked the blend of personal family mystery and history with the school and local town, it gave the book a little more depth than being insular just to an event on school that related to the secret society.
2.  Themes on identity and family and friendship were well developed. For me these are themes that are essential to a YA book where readers, particularly younger readers, are looking for representation, themes on school and friendship, and identity and this book reflects these themes well.  I think a lot of readers will appreciate the voices and character development in this book.
3.  Strong writing, I enjoy a well written and well developed YA plot.  Mx. Frick writes a strong narrative that is both plot and character driven as I felt that the plot allowed for growth for Calliope in particular but also was propelled, after a somewhat slow start, by a mystery and suspense.
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Very Bad People by Kit Frick follows Calliope Bolan as she aims to bond with the memory of her deceased mother by attending the same boarding school her mother did as a teenager. She gets exactly that when she is tapped for membership to a secret society who act as school life activists, which her mother had also been a member of. While following in her mother’s footsteps, Calliope stumbles upon society secrets that make her believe it might be linked to her mother’s death. 

Very Bad People gets off to a bit of a slow start. The first couple of chapters have a healthy dose of exposition, and some repetitiveness of detail; although this does come in handy later with a handful of school glossary terms and a couple of identifying details for some of the more minor characters. Although the story takes a little time to build itself to the real start of true mystery and excitement, which happens when she is officially sworn into the secret society, it does eventually hit its stride in following Calliope in her amateur investigating. It’s a compelling journey and it reminds me of how exciting it can be to follow along and figure things out as we go with our favorite characters. It encourages the reader to think ahead, and maybe jump to some conclusions or think of all the ways the story could unfold. Calliope is not immune to that mentality any better than we are, which is so relatable I couldn’t even blame her when I disagreed with her ongoing theories.

I don’t want to give too much away about the mystery of the story, but there’s more to the book than just that. Calliope finds herself questioning how far she is willing to go for her beliefs, and questioning the orders given to her by her fellow society members. When is doing what’s right more important than following the rules? How far can you push the limits of the rules and laws before you’ve gone too far? These greater scope questions aren’t the only version of the issue Calliope faces either; she also has to ask herself who she’s willing to follow when the society faces opposing ideas of how to handle their missions. 

Something else I liked to see in this book was the casual LGBTQ+ and diversity inclusion. There is one character, although a minor character, is mentioned to use they/them pronouns. Calliope’s aunt is also openly bisexual, and even briefly discusses discovering her sexuality. There are also mentions of a school a cappella group for boys and nonbinary students. The student body is diverse as well, multiple heritages alluded to in character description. This is noteworthy in story too, as the secret society pushes for diversity and inclusion with their staged anonymous protests. While these may just be details, seeing these casual mentions is a welcome reflection of how the world is changing around us. 

Kit Frick weaves a fun story in Very Bad People about figuring out who you are, all while keeping the reader pulled into a mystery that continually keeps you guessing.
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