Cover Image: Very Bad People

Very Bad People

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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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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.

Six years ago Calliope Bolan and her sisters were in the car with their mother when the car went off the road into a lake. Calliope had been sleeping when the accident happened and awake to help her sisters out of the car but the girls could not save their mother and to this day still don’t know why the accident happened.

Now at sixteen Calliope has talked her father into letting her attend Tipton Academy, the same boarding school her mother had attended. After arriving at Tipton Calliope finds herself invited to join the elite Haunt and Rail society. The underground group has been at the school for years helping to fight the injustices on campus and Calliope believes her mother was once involved.

Very Bad People is actually the third young adult thriller I’ve read by author Kit Frick after enjoying the first two. I honestly expected to love this book when I picked it up as dark boarding school stories always draw me in and I really did enjoy this for the most part. It moved at a nice pace and did draw me into finding out what would happen in the present and what happened in the past. This was probably at least a solid four stars all the way until the end but it wasn’t an end I am found of at all so only three stars over all for this one from me.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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I was approved for this title the day before the archive date, and didn't have the opportunity to even download it before it was removed from NetGalley. I cannot offer a review on this title.
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Very Bad People is a solid, middle-of-the-road book for me. I love Kit Frick's writing style and the way it can go from flowery to simple with just a few paragraphs. Tonally, I loved this book.  It follows Calliope, whose mother died years ago in a suspicious car accident. Calliope starts attending the fancy boarding school her mother once attended in an attempt to learn more about her. While there Calliope joins a secret society that her mother was also a part of. At first, it seems the society does good work, helping end sexist policies, raising wages for food service workers, and calling for the removal of a predatory teacher. The more Calliope gets involved, the darker things get, and the society may not be as great as it seems. 

Like I said, the tone is great. I liked the causes they took up, and the questions it raises about how far we go for justice.  I also like that this book made me angry. I got angry on behalf of the secret society, and later, at the society.  Their motivations were clear. Also, Calliope was a main character that was easy to root for, one we feel for and sometimes want to shake when she makes bad choices.  However, besides her boyfriend, and maybe her aunt, a lot of these characters fell flat. They were interesting, I guess, but all too similar. It was hard to tell society members apart.  The other thing about their society is their mission to remove a predatory teacher. I get that this is probably an issue in a lot of educational spaces, but it seems like every single YA thriller I read involves older, predatory males taking advantage of teenage girls. Other bad things can happen to teenage girls. It doesn't always have to be this. 

This book also has some good, but not big twists. The things that do happen don't feel totally unpredictable. And then it just ends. Spoiler warning, but there's little closure in this one. Still, I liked it and was hooked the whole time. I just wish I had more depth and more of a satisfying ending. That being said, I definitely think older students will like this because the genre is so popular right now. I will recommend this, and I will totally read Kit Frick's I Killed Zoe Spanos.
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I liked the premise but didn't have enough time to download it before it was archived. I'm planning to read it and from what I've heard so far, it's pretty good.
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Calliope's mom died six years ago after driving a minivan (with Calliope and her two younger sisters inside) into a lake. Was it an accident? A Susan Smith-style murder attempt? Or something else? Calliope desperately seeks answers at Tipton Academy, the same fancy boarding school her mom attended, and is quickly in over her head after joining a secret society called Haunt and Rail. 

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The premise of this book was interesting and sounded like it would be a fun read, but the pace was kind of draggy, I didn't love the characters, and I wasn't super into the reveals when they happened. The part about the predatory teacher felt kind of tacked on and not very well-developed. I think I need to steer clear of dark academia/secret society books for a bit because they are all blurring together for me. That said, I would gladly read another book by Kit Frick (starting with I Killed Zoe Spanos)!
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Overall I enjoyed this one, but imagine you read an entire book and the very last paragraph makes you groan and leaves a sour taste in your mouth. 😭

"It's the Bolan girls. The ones who survived. We don't live in a fairy tale, but people regard us, sometimes, as if we are more story than girl. More myth than flesh that hurts and bleeds and grieves."

Sixteen year old Calliope lives in a small town in the Adirondacks with her father and two younger sisters, a life where she is known by everyone and her trauma is common knowledge. I can't imagine having the worst day of my life on everyone's mind and being something I cannot escape, so my heart instantly hurt for Calliope and her family. The hometown she never envisioned leaving suddenly became a place she couldn't wait to escape.

Mysteries old and new collide when sixteen year old Calliope transfers to Tipton Academy and she realizes there may be more to the "accident" that caused her mother's death six years ago. She's almost immediately tapped to join Haunt and Rail, the only active secret society at the academy. But where most secret societies brim with privilege and elitism, Haunt and Rail serves as a social justice society that encourages the school and community to do better.

"The society's purpose will be to haunt and rail, that is to clandestinely observe injustices, inequities, and bad actors at Tipton Academy, and to rail against their wrongs."

A girl who's been searching for where she belongs, Calliope finds her place at Tipton and a purpose within Haunt and Rail. But are things as good as they seem?

Full of moral quandaries and ethical debate, Calliope is forced to reconcile her belief in the rules with disruption of inspiring change. Is it wrong to break a rule if it is for a good reason? If so, how big of a rule can you break before it skews into Bad Territory?

"Tipton guards its own, even when it means protecting very bad people."

I loved the subtle critique on the systems in place that make progress difficult and how Tipton Academy basically serves as a microcosm for society at large. The people in power protect their own and the systems in place are built to maintain the status quo. The red tape and bureaucracies, how often (student) government actions make little progress at all; it highlights not only the need for social justice but also importance of awareness campaigns... and how they must appeal to what people care about.

“I came back to Tipton ready to open my eyes to the real story, messy and imperfect, and that’s exactly what I got.”

While I wasn't fully invested in any of the characters per se, I really liked the relationship between Calliope and Nico. They are just two kids who have no idea what they're doing, full of awkward behavior and assumptions. It was so refreshing to see Calliope be brave and direct, expressing not only what she wants and asking for permission, but also seeking clarification to avoid misunderstandings.

This is a book that's a wild ride, fully engaging with a web of secrets and mysteries the reader and Calliope must unravel together. The writing style is very blunt and to the point, which makes it easy to consume in one sitting. The ending isn't quite what I like to see in a book, but I can understand why Kit wrote it the way she did (doesn't mean I like it though!). If you like your characters morally grey, then Very Bad People is a must-read!

eARC provided by the publisher for my honest review. This does not impact my opinions of the book nor the contents of my review. Quotations are from an unfinished proof and subject to change upon final publication.

Content warnings: death of a parent, murder, suicide (off-page)
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Very Bad people is a dark academia, boarding school mystery and I absolutely loved it!

Packed full of suspense, tension and crazy plot twists, this book did not disappoint. I went into it mostly blind, with just a vague idea of the plot and it really hooked me. The plot twists were unpredictable and such a shock and the book dealt with heavier issues too, such as ethical and moral debates. I felt that the two plot lines were mostly separate, which led to one being more developed and the side characters weren’t really focused on at all. I would have loved to see more romance to offset the dark vibes but I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel because that ENDING.

Anyways, that’s a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ from me and I’d recommend for people who like mysteries, boarding school gothic vibes and dark academia.

See my blog and bookstagram for a more detailed review!
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VERY BAD PEOPLE by Kit Frick is the story of a teen girl named Calliope, who survived a horrible car accident in which her mother drove their car containing Calliope and her two sisters into a river. The sisters survived; Calliope's mother did not. And no one knows what caused the accident. Six years later, Calliope transfers to the boarding school her mother attended and gets inducted into a secret society, Haunt and Rail, that advocates for social justice on campus. Then Calliope makes some connections between Haunt and Rail and her mother's mysterious death and begins to question the methods and motivations of Haunt and Rail. Soon, she doesn't know who she can trust and who could be in danger.

VERY BAD PEOPLE has a captivating premise that manages to carry the reader through to its conclusion. The Haunt and Rail idea is clever in the way it brings up questions about the distinction between lawful and moral and the methods and motivations people use to achieve what they see as justice. The book is strongest when it's atmospheric, but that comes and goes. It also contains a lot of characters who are hard to track, and the pacing is fairly slow for this genre. The plot revelations clip along quickly enough to hold attention, but readers looking for high intensity and nail-biting suspense may come away disappointed.
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Above all else, this book was just so much fun to read! The pace had the perfect momentum leading up to the nail-biting conclusion. Calliope’s hunt for the truth and all the Haunt and Rail escapades were perfectly balanced, revealing just enough of both to keep the wheels turning and my anticipation rising.

And the plot twists! What is a mystery/thriller without a couple of good surprises thrown in? For its part, I loved the unexpected turns in this novel took. They teetered the line between totally believable and absolutely baffling to the perfect degree – something not all books in this genre can master. I did find the final reveal ~a little~ underwhelming, not because of the scale of it, but because it just sort of happened to the protagonist.

But that ending?! It couldn’t have been better. The perfect, open-ended conclusion to this wild ride.

Overall, I found Very Bad People almost impossible to put down. Despite it being packed to the brim with secrets, mysteries, and of course, murder, I just whizzed right through it, because I couldn’t bear to stop reading it for too long!
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I really enjoyed this book which is about a teen girl who's mother mysteriously died which is leading this secret society at her new school along with a game that changes her life. Kit is an incredible writer when it comes to writing mysteries that deals with families. There was so much going on with the mystery that made me want to hurry up to get to the ending so I know what happened. I do have to say in the beginning it was a little hard to get into as I'm not into MCs who are 16 but with the story, I knew I had to read it. The pacing was perfect and I enjoyed how the story mostly took place at the boarding school with a secret society. 

The main character in this book is Calliope who wants to discover what led to her mom's accident. She was such a strong young girl at especially 16 years old who was solving this mystery. I mean at 16 I would be scared and crying knowing about this. I really enjoyed her character development and seeing how much she grew throughout the story. There are many side characters in this book whom I enjoyed and I love how Kit writes them with readers not knowing if they are the enemies or truly friends. There is a little bit of friends to lovers romance but it's not the main factor of the story. 

The ending was well done but compared to I Killed Zoe Spanos, it was a little similar. I was still a little surprised to uncover the mystery. Overall this was such a great read and I only has small minor problems with the book. Kit is such an incredible writer when it comes to mystery/thrillers and I would love to see her write an adult mystery because I know it will be amazing. I totally recommend this book for fans of You'll Be the Death of Us and This is Our Story.
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I enjoyed this Ya Mystery thriller. It had the right amount mystery and suspense to  keep me on the edge of my seat.  I glad that readers are getting more YA Mysteries.
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Would this make a good Netflix series? Yes. Did I love it as a book? No. It felt too much like A Good Girl's Guide to Murder which I did not enjoy. It is hard for me to get behind YA books that portray the teenage characters as adults. Where are the adults? Why aren't they around helping these teens?
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Very Bad People by Kit Frick is a YA thriller that you won't be able to put down!  The story revolves around Calliope, who is a new transfer student at Tipton Academy, an elite boarding school. Six years ago, her mother died by suicide, and Calliope is here at the school to learn more about her mother. Soon, she's inducted into the mysterious Haunt and Rail secret society. It all seems like fun and games, but is it really?

Here is a chilling excerpt from Chapter 2, which is a flashback:

"I woke up to cold water - rushing in, filling the van, dragging us under. Screams and screams. Only our mother was silent in the front, slumped over the steering wheel. Momma! Dark streaks, dancing in front of my eyes. Lorelei's bare foot, tangled in something. The seat belt. I clawed at mine, got it off, and the water kept rushing in, greedy, greedy. I got Serafina out of her car seat.  I'd helped our mother fasten and unfasten her plenty of times; plenty of times she was wailing, screeching, inconsolable, but this was harder, scarier than anything I'd ever done. Get Momma, I screamed to Lorelei, but my sister was frozen, staring."

Overall, Very Bad People is a YA thriller that will appeal to fans of Netflix's Rebelde or A Good Girl's Guide to Murder. One highlight of this book is the plot, which includes two mysteries. I enjoyed how the author weaved the mystery of Calliope's mother's death to the mystery behind the Haunt and Rail Society.  It made the book twice as interesting to read. Another highlight of this book is the main character, Calliope. I was rooting for her the whole way, and I loved how she investigated both mysteries.  If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of YA thrillers in general, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in April!
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I fell into reading Thrillers (both adult and YA) as a palate cleanser between high fantasy and epic series. Very Bad People was precisely what I was in the mood for and was a quick, gripping read that left me wanting more – can we have a sequel, please?

Calliope transfers into Tipton Academy to escape the stares and the stigma around the death of her mother’s accidental actions. By attending her mother’s alma mater, Calliope hopes to unravel the mystery of why her mother drove them into the water and connect to a side of the family that she has grown apart from. Once at Tipton, she gets recruited to a secret society run by her peers, built on bringing a sense of justice to the injustices they see on campus. Calliope has quite a bit of navigating between her willing (and not-so-willing) participation in the group’s acts, her own exploration of friendships and relationships, and the secrets those alive are still protecting.

This book moves along at a breakneck pace, with a full cast of characters surrounding Calliope and her family. I would have loved to see fewer side characters in exchange for a handful of more fleshed-out ones. Still, I absolutely adore Kit Frick’s writing of Calliope. This book also did a much better job capturing her fellow classmates’ diverse lived experiences than most written in a private school setting.

One of my YA pet peeves is when writers write the teenagers as mini-adults – instead of the intelligent but often impulsive and fixated teens that I see in my life (and that I was!). Very Bad People avoided this! I was frustrated and worried about the characters and sometimes face-palming lousy decision-making.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that the ending felt incomplete – though I am not sure that was because I didn’t want to leave these characters behind or that I wanted a cleaner resolution to all the plot lines. All in all, I cannot wait to read another by Kit Frick.

I got this book as part of a book tour from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Okay, so picture this: it’s 2:30 AM, and after being fully embroiled and wrapped up in an intricately crafted and fascinating YA thriller, you finally turn to the last page of the book. However, after you’ve read the last paragraph, instead of being filled with the usual euphoria you get after finishing a book, you’re actually struck with a growing feeling of annoyance—wait, that couldn’t possibly be how the story, ended, right?

Right???

RIGHT????

So, if you haven’t already guessed by now, this was kind of sorta my actual live reaction to having finished Very Bad People, the latest YA thriller from Kit Frick, as well as her very first foray into the dark academia genre.

Now, don’t get me wrong—for approximately 95% percent of my time reading Very Bad People, I was actually both fully obsessed with and completely addicted to the overarching storyline, to the point where I was fully anticipating giving it a solid five stars.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s just do a quick rewind of the plot!

Six years after Calliope Bolan’s mother drove their car into a lake with her three daughters inside and passed away, Calliope now finds herself attending the exclusive Tipton Academy, which also happens to be the same boarding school her mother attended. And while Calliope is partly hoping to be able to get a peak into her own mother’s past, she is also trying to mostly stay under the radar—well, that is, until she is recruited by Haunt & Rail, Tipton Academy’s first and only secret-and-yet-also-not-so-secret exclusive society.

However, Haunt & Rail is unique in that contrary to what one might assume at first, it actually flips the concept of secret societies right on top of its own head. Instead of being elitist and snobby, they’re actually the exact opposite—as a social justice-themed secret society, Haunt & Rail’s sole purpose is to fight against the status quo. As the book states,

“The society’s purposes will be to haunt and rail, that is to clandestinely observe injustices, inequities, and bad actors at Tipton Academy, and to rail against these wrongs.”
– VERY BAD PEOPLE BY KIT FRICK

And let me just say, I love love LOVED this incredibly crafty twist on secret societies!! Having a secret society that’s dedicated to writing serious wrongdoings instead of just doing snobby and extremely elitist activities (cough, the Life & Death Brigade, cough) was just BEYOND inventive. And okay, even if I didn’t always agree with some of H&R’s methods of retaliation, can we just all agree that this is like the coolest concept EVER?

There is a lot more going on with the plot as well. For one, Calliope is still trying to desperately search for answers as to what could’ve (literally!) driven her mother into the lake with Calliope and her sisters. And if that wasn’t hard enough on Calliope, as a result of being a member of Haunt & Rail, she also has to decide where she stands on the society’s latest goal: to get rid of a faculty member accused of sexually harassing teenagers at Tipton. A faculty member that also happens to be Calliope’s creative writing professor, and someone that she’s not yet entirely convinced committed those heinous crimes.

I’ll end with my discussion of the plot here, lest I get into ~spoilery~ territory, but needless to say, I was pretty much obsessed with this!

However, I do feel like I have to mention that as much as I enjoyed the majority of the book, well, THAT ENDING!! Again, no spoilers, but I do feel like I have to say that even with giving it the absolute benefit of the doubt, it just really rubbed me the wrong way? I guess I really wasn’t expecting it to end abruptly like that and I JUST NEEDED A FEW MORE PAGES OF CONTENT!! (Kit Frick, if you happen to have stumbled across this post, maybe please consider giving us a sequel? 🥺)

Overall, however, given how much I loved reading Very Bad People on the whole, I would still easily recommend this book! Fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, People Like Us, and The Grimrose Girls are sure to find plenty of chills and thrills in this deliciously dark academia novel!
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I was really looking forward to this one after seeing it was from the same author who wrote I Killed Zoe Spanos. I am always down for more YA Mystery / Thrillers as well! Unfortunately, this one just left me with more questions than I had started with and I’m still not sure how I really feel about it.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Calliope. Her family has a past and it is one reason why she decides to switch schools. It gets her out of the spotlight while bringing her one step closer to her mother who died in an accident, or so they say. I did like how close she was to her family but it also wasn’t the focal point of the story, although I wish it was. Since she is after a different school and different town it’s hard for them to have interactions and when they do it isn’t always pleasant. I guess that would be considered normal sibling things, lol. Calliope deals with a lot of hard topics and makes choices that could be considered questionable but given the context a few do make sense.

Most of the characters felt like they were there to keep the plot going and nothing else. There is a relationship between Calliope and another character but it moved rather quickly and then burned out due to circumstances.

There are a lot of heavy topics covered in the book and I think they were fine. They weren’t too detailed and kept the book going for the thrill factor, although I just wasn’t as thrilled as I wanted to be. The plot twists, especially one, were a bit over the top and reminded me of As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson, but not in a good way since I didn’t like where that book went. At least Calliope had more morals? Or at least I hope but since it was an open-ending I can’t say for sure what happened.

Because there is a lot of topics discussed, it doesn’t leave much room for the bigger ones and at times it felt like the plot points would never connect. They eventually do but it didn’t leave me gasping.

Overall, this was okay. There were times that I was intrigued, like the beginning and closer to the end, but it didn’t give me that wow factor I was looking for.
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Honestly, the reason I picked this up is because of 1. the mystery 2. the boarding school background.
I enjoyed reading this novel, but honestly the ending was a little disappointing and so was the plot. Let's get into the review.

Plot:
I love mysteries. While I don't read a lot of dark academia, I do read a lot of mysteries. And I have to say that the mystery in this was amazing. But I just don't like, get how the plot veered from something it's main focus supposedly was to something else? Like the synopsis says that the main focus was the death of the Calliope (MC)'s mother, but I just felt it revolved around Haunt and Rail more.
The ending was also kind of disappointing, and if there isn't a sequel coming, it'll leave a bunch of questions unanswered. I won't say anything more, cuz spoilers, but just wanted to get it out there.

Characters:
Calliope's character was super fleshed out, and I loved how real it was! She wasn't all ethical all the time, made mistakes, and did so much more human-like things, something a lot of MCs don't! The other characters weren't as fleshed out though, but I still enjoyed reading them.

Writing Style:
I really enjoyed Kit Frick's writing style- it kept me hooked until the very end. If it had fallen bland, I'd probably have DNF-ed the book.

Overall, a 3.5 star novel! Would recommend to older teens, due to the trigger warnings.
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This was a super fun read! I wasn't sure if I'd like it (I'm not normally a thriller/mystery reader) but I really liked it. 

The setting was part of the reason this was so great. Isolated boarding school with secret societies, what wasn't to love? The vibes were immaculate, and so fun to imagine! 

And even better were the moral dilemmas this presented. They were super intriguing, and although they weren't the backbone of the book, they were still super fun. The open ending really left a lot to the imagination, and I love the ability to interpret it as I wish. 

And finally, I really liked our characters. They were an interesting batch, and even though I'm still not a giant fan of the plot, the characters made up for it. The friendships and the family connections were awesome. 

With similar vibes to The Secret History and Grimrose Girls, I'd definitely recommend this one! It was a super fun read, and I'll be keeping an eye on this author 

Thanks to Turn the Page Tours for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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Very Bad People is a riveting story which I finished in a matter of days. I had decided to read just one more chapter before bed and then I was up past midnight having just finished. What can I tell you? Things just happen. Very Bad People is a story about mistakes and (re)invention. What begins as a quest to unravel the mystery of what happened six years ago, turns into a story about activism and conspiracy. From the beginning, you're never really sure what is real. What might twist in front of you.

And what twists indeed. Very Bad People delivers mystery and suspense. Tension that swirls in the pit of your stomach. But Calliope was my favorite element. I loved watching her confront these ghosts of her past. The lies and truths we are left with at the end of the day. All the times our gut is telling us to stay a moment longer, to turn around, but we never do. Mistakes and conflicts of our heart. Her character development is nuanced and introspective.
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