Cover Image: Very Bad People

Very Bad People

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Member Reviews

This book was really interesting! I really enjoyed the mystery and how everything connected together at the end. I just wish it had been tied up cleaner.
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This is a story about secrets.  Six years ago, Calliope's mother drove a van with her and her two sisters into a lake.  Calliope and her sisters managed to escape, but her mother did not make it.  Since then, the truth behind what was characterized as an accident has haunted Calliope and her whole family.  In an effort to learn more about her mother and potentially gain more insight into what happened that fateful day, Calliope decides to enroll at Tipton Academy, the elite private school that Calliope's mother attended as a child.

When Calliope arrives at Tipton, she is quickly asked to join the school's secret society whose members are known as "ghosts."   The ghosts claim they act as a leaderless collective, are committed to bringing about positive change at the school, and have been behind many positive developments at Tipton.  But when the ghosts decide to make one of their causes exposing a dangerous teacher on campus, Kit begins to question how far the ghosts will go in service of their cause -- just as she is beginning to suspect there may be a link between her mother, her accident, and the ghosts.  

This was a great read.  I tend to enjoy boarding school novels, and this was no exception.  The book creates a rich world at Tipton and within the secret society.  It can be hard to create a creative spin on a secret society story, but the author did so here.  The author also did a great job of developing the nested mysteries at the heart of the book -- around what really happened with Calliope's mother and what the truth was behind the target of the ghosts' mission and their true motives for pursuing it -- which kept me fully engaged. 

Strongly recommended!
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e-arc provided by the author in exchange for a review. This does not affect my rating in any way.

This book blew me away. There was so much to it. So many twists; it kept me guessing until the very last page!

Calliope Bolan's mother drove a car into a lake-with her daughters in it. But what Calliope can't get over is why her mother would do such a thing. She doesn't believe that her mother did a murder-suicide-it doesn't seem like her.
So Calliope decides to figure it out herself. She goes to Tipton Academy, the school her mother went to. And she finds herself wrapped up in a mystery-one much bigger than what she expected. 

The book had great messages about family-Calliope, the MC, would do basically anything for her sisters and father. And she's determined to find out what happened to her mother all those years ago. 
For this review, I'm going to sort it into 4 different categories: sexual content, role models, LGBTQ2+ rep, and violence.

There is a LOT of sexual content. 1/4 of the story is based on sexual stuff. There is a 'sex scene': "I saw them rolling around in the leaves, half naked. I didn't know what it meant at the time, but I knew it was bad" (I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was something along those lines.)
There's a couple of mentions of affairs-someone's sister slept with their sister's boyfriend, someone cheats on someone else, etc. The MC has a boyfriend, and towards the end something happens (no spoilers) that adds a very dramatic twist, let's say.

As for role models, there really aren't that many great ones, to be honest. This isn't the 'normal' book where everyone is not very human. They have feelings, though they're sometimes rather horrible. Calliope experiences many feelings of guilt throughout the book-it's really believable. 
Her relationships with her family are increasingly complicated throughout the book, with every twist making everything even more grey. Speaking of grey, Calliope questions her morals, what revenge means, what she would be willing to do for love, and many many more things ;). 
Anyway, the "ghosts" are really horrible people. They're willing to blackmail, break people apart, and so much more that it's really tough to read about. You start the book with such high expectations about them, and they just get worse throughout the book. 
Just...overall, don't look at this book as a book that will give you someone to look up to-though Calliope is pretty close. She's honestly quite great in some ways.

There's a lot of LGBTQ rep-her aunt is bisexual, (and married to a woman), and there's a character named Quinn who uses they/them pronouns. Calliope is extremely accepting, and I feel like this book covers sensitive topics quite well.

Violence. Oh, so much violence, it's kind of unbelievable. I can't say much without spoiling, but when you read this, be careful if you're triggered by these things. 

Overall, this book is AWESOME! Would highly recommend for those of you who like mystery/thriller/murder mysteries!!

Kit, if you're reading this, I NEED a sequel! :)
4.5 stars, 13 or 14 plus
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VERY BAD PEOPLE by Kit Frick had that engaging momentum and fast pace that really had me going for the first two thirds of the book. I really liked our main character Calliope, as I thought that Frick did a good job of pulling out all of her depths and edges in a realistic manner. I believed her actions as based on the things that she had been through in her life, especially her mother's death in a car accident that she and her sisters barely made it out of. I also really liked the story building when it came to Tipton Academy, and the Haunt and Rail Society that Calliope joined. I am a true lover of boarding school thrillers and if you throw in a Secret Society angle (along with reasons to look at moral and philosophical questions about what is 'right' and 'wrong') I'm probably going to enjoy it. But then VERY BAD PEOPLE fell into a pattern that is all too familiar: it had some twists and reveals that really didn't sit well with me and took me out of the story altogether. I am thinking that it probably has more to do wtih my own personal preferences, so I'm not going to ding this as much as I could because it may work for others. But for me, and one big reveal in particular really did this, it left a bad taste in my mouth that I just couldn't shake, and I felt that it negated a lot of the emotional impact that had been well earned up until that point. I also didn't think that said ruminations on right and wrong were well grappled with in the context of those whose convictions make them inflict collateral damage on innocent people. But again, this could be a 'me' problem.

VERY BAD PEOPLE was super engaging until it wasn't. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
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4.5 rounded up. 

I really like that this felt like a contemporary novel until the last 25% or so when twists started happening left and right. This book centers around a group of 20 upper classman at a boarding school who pull pranks to cause change around campus but our MC quickly sees how it can go awry and that good intentions do not equal good impact. There's some great foreshadowing of what's going to happen with some mythological references used as names. There's lots of character growth from our MC and she handles the challenges realistically. 

My only complaint is the non-white characters weren't given any meaningful storylines. I think this could have been an interesting discussion as the book centers around an elite boarding school. However, there is already a lot going on in this book and it may have gotten messy to do that.
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“Our mother loved all magical stories and consulted a variety of sources when naming her daughters, My name, Calliope, was drawn from ancient Greek myth. Lorelei owes her to German Folklore. Serafina is from seraphim, angels of the highest order in Abrahamic religious lore. Put us together, and we are part survival story, part fable, part cautionary tale.” - P.2 

This is a story about a girl with a tragic past trying to unlock the events of the event as well as uncover her mother’s secret. The story follows Calliope Bolan, a girl who’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. Calliope was able to save her sisters but her mother died, now six years later Calliope is going to go to the school her mother went to, Tipton Academy, an elite boarding school. Tipton is filled with secrets, and when Calliope is invited to join the school’s most coveted secret society, the Haunt and Rail, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. But soon, things are not as they seem and the once exhilarating aspect of the society, of fixing wrongs and fighting for social justice starts to crumble and a darker agenda is at play. It also doesn’t help that Calliope discovers that her mother was also a part of this secret society and that maybe her death wasn’t so mysterious after all. Calliope starts receiving mysterious correspondence and seeing a man all around and this leads her down a rabbit hole of trying to piece together what truly happened on the day of her mother’s incident and who is truly responsible for her mother’s death. But with this mystery going on and the society’s actions getting more and more out of hand she will have to re-evaluate everything she believed in and decide where she will stand once the secrets are revealed. “Actiones secundum fidei. Latin for actions follows belief” (p.66) and now Calliope must take her own actions.. The start of the book was really interesting but as it moved further it felt like it was dragging a bit and the overall ending felt like it lacked something more, the resolution to all the mysteries wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. Overall it just didn’t work for me but definitely give this book a go if you enjoy books wiit mysteries and secret societies in schools.

*Thanks Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, Margaret K. McElderry Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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Very Bad People is a thrilling dark academia novel full of secret societies and family mysteries, and asks the important question: how far would you go for justice?


Calliope, our protagonist, is a character who's easy to root for. She's a little shy, very friendly, and eager for a fresh start at her new boarding school. If you’re not aware, I love boarding school mysteries, so I was excited to see where this story went.

While at school, just after she starts, Calliope is initiated into the secret society Haunt and Rail. While she doesn’t share the same excitement as her peers in being selected, she and the reader can see there is more to the society than what they seem. One specific underlying thing being that Calliope’s late mother was also part of the society, and this might somehow be connected to her death.

There are two interweaving storylines going on - Calliope trying to find out what happened to her mum, and her also trying to keep up with the society and their tasks and demands. It’s when the two start to become more connected that things take a turn for the worst.

The Haunt and Rail is an intriguing secret society, and different from one I expected. Their main objective is to fight for what's right on campus, whether that be renaming school buildings named after racist presidents/politicians/etc, campaigning for better wages for the school catering stuff, or more. The way they go about this is... chaotic good at best, since it usually consists of hijinks and pranks. 

I appreciated that the society was focused on exposing the wrongdoings of faculty members and more, and that we got to see this in a dark academia novel. It doesn’t brush away from the fact that old buildings are named after senators and politicians who are downright racist and should not be part of the school’s legacy, or that school staff are underpaid and overlooked. 

It also poses the question of - should students do things to change it? And if so, how far should they go? The way the society try for change is in drastic and chaotic ways. At first it’s fun to read, and fun for Calliope to help in as she feels like she’s part of a big change.

But then, what do you do when the tasks of the society aren’t something you agree with? This novel does a great job of tackling this topic.
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*Thank you to Simon & Schuster, Kit Frick, and Netgalley for providing me with a E-ARC of "Very Bad People" in exchange for an honest review *

So, I saw in the synopsis for this book that it compared itself to "the Female of the Species" and it definitely an adpt comparison. I really love book with alot of mystery and this definitely provides it.
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Very Bad People follows a teen girl named Calliope who transfers to the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Her mother died mysteriously a few years ago and Calliope is hoping to understand her better by going to this school. Once there, Calliope is sucked into a secret society where she is forced to make difficult choices, uncover truths about her mother's past, and question what justice really means. 

I found this to be an enjoyable mystery read but I don't think it reached its full potential. Some of the plot points felt weak and I struggled to understand Calliope's motivations. The core mystery of her mother's death felt like it wasn't fully fleshed out, and unfortunately, the resolution felt anticlimactic and unsatisfying. I did still appreciate elements of the story and I do enjoy Kit's writing--I just didn't think this was as strong as her previous book, I Killed Zoe Spanos.

Overall, it wasn't my favorite YA mystery, but I think many teens will still enjoy it and I will absolutely be recommending it at my library. Fans of dark academia, and readers who enjoyed How We Fall Apart, They Wish They Were Us, or Ace of Spades will enjoy Very Bad People!
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“History forgets the rule followers, Calliope. Remember that.”
	What I thought was a twist of fairytales and mystery led to so much more and I’m still a bit rattled by the last 1/4 of this book. 
	Everything about this book had me hooked from the get-go: twists, turns, edge-of-your-seat reveals, oh, and a personal favourite, short chapters 👌🏼😌 all taking place at a boarding school with a top-secret society? Sign me up!
	Calliope is coming to terms with the mysterious death of her mother and to get away from her small-town life and constant stares, she transfers to Tipton Academy (her mother’s alma mater) for a fresh start. But when she gets swept into the secret society of Haunt and Rail, what starts off as simple pranks (or larks as they refer to them) turn a bit more…dark
	I loved the dual mystery aspect that was followed: One being the mystery of what happened to the mother and the other being how does Tipton’s past connects to her death. Calliope is an interesting narrator as you see her struggle to cope with everything on top of maintaining the “perfect” school persona.
	The ending totally had me by surprise, and whereas some books may wrap things up, this one will have you wondering and coming to your own conclusions 😉 
	If you are a fan of Karen McManus, then I definitely recommend checking this one out! It will leave you wanting more and flying through the book to figure out the clues.
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Calliope, Lorelei, and Serafina are sisters.  When Calliope, the oldest, was ten, her mom's vehicle went into the water.  The girls got out, but their mom didn't.  Their father and the girls have mostly moved on.  They miss her, but they're ok not knowing what actually happened.  But Calliope needs to know the truth.  Did her mom do it on purpose?  Was there anyone else involved?  She decides to enroll in the same boarding school her mom went to.  She thought that it would make her closer to her mom somehow.  Shortly after she arrives, Calliope sees a man that looks familiar.  She thinks he might have been there when their mom died.  So she starts trying to find out who this man is.  

Haunt and Rail is a secret society at the school.  There are only ten juniors and ten seniors every year.  Calliope gets an invite to join.  At first, she is really excited.  It seems like they fight for social justice causes.  But the longer she's in, Calliope realizes that the society is darker than she thought.  She also starts to figure out who the man is and how her mom died.  Nothing at the school ends up as she hoped.

The ending was one of those kind of open ended ones.  I think I know what she did, but I'm not sure.  I would have loved more, but I also get why it ended the way it did.

I gave this book 4 stars.  Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my earc.

Warnings for inappropriate sexual contact, teenage drinking, talk of suicide, mental illness/ptsd, death.
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i accidentally sent the review for the wrong book! this will be proply fixed once i've read this book and wrote the review for this book. huge apologies for the mix up.
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Very Bad People is the story of Calliope, a teen girl who enrolls at the exclusive Tipton Academy to try to understand her dead mother better and to potentially find out what really happened the day their family minivan went into the lake, killing their mother and forever scarring Calliope and her two sisters.

There is a lot to like about this book--I especially liked the atmosphere of Tipton Academy. The secret society, Haunt and Rail, was also well drawn, at least at the start. I also thought Calliope was a compelling character. 

However, I walked away from the book disappointed.   SPOILERS AHEAD

The truth about the way Calliope's mother died comes at a point in the book that feels premature, and the way in which her mother died still didn't add up by the time I finished. I still can't quite figure out why the mother was "asleep" when they went into the water. Did she hit her head? Shock? Why was she the only one who didn't get out alive? 

I like when YA goes dark--so I didn't actually take issue with Calliope becoming involved in a murder cover-up,  BUT her character arc seemed really weak here. Hadn't she been learning to stand up for herself, for people she loves? And then nothing with Nico is resolved--she just treats him like trash and walks away? Is that the character arc for Calliope?

The ending also felt like it came in the middle of a scene. She sent the email, I'm assuming, but like...then what? I was surprised there wasn't some kind of epilogue or news story that covers the trial or something of that nature to wrap things up a bit (I'd like to know if she got a plea deal!). I wasn't a fan of the way the book just abruptly stopped in what felt like mid-sentence.  


If you don't mind cliffhanger endings that will likely never get resolved, you would like this book. I really enjoyed I Killed Zoe Spanos, so I was excited for this one. It just didn't contain the same spark for me.
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This book was absolutely fantastic. I've already added it to our list for order this year and will recommend it to students.
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Very Bad People is a very good book.
Thank you Nicole (Simon & Schuster) and NetGalley for the digital review copy. I hope there is a sequel because the cliff-hanger left me dangling!
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Very Bad People will keep you guessing until literally the very end! This story has something for everyone--dark academia intrigue, family secrets, a secret society, and increasingly dangerous exploits by basically everyone. I loved the morally gray behavior of again, basically everyone. Teens who are thriller-obsessed will enjoy this twisty ride!
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full review will be posted on my goodreads and instagram in march 2022. 

first 5 star of the year!! 
when i say i love YA mystery, this is what i mean. 
The twist, the turns, the unreliable narrators - everything.
calliope bolan is starting at tipton academy. she’s looking to leave her small town and move on from her mothers tragic death, but ends up finding answers that she didn’t even know she wanted. 
the dark academic atmosphere mixed with fall is everything I need. I loved the secret society aspect, along with the mix of her mother. 
The characters are written so well to the point where you trust them all, just to be completely mind blown by what’s to come. you feel actual betrayal and confusion, which is something i love in a book. 
kit fricks draws you in so well, and creates such a perfect setting then it all twist and turns so fast that it’s perfect. 
The short chapters, mixed with fast pacing make for an epic read. This book is on the longer side at a little over 400 pages but it needed every last page. I never once was bored, or thought information could be left out of the story. The author set everything up perfectly for the big reveal at the end. 
Speaking of the ending, OMG. I was So mad. 
We better be getting a second book because I’m not ready to leave these characters or this story behind yet.
Kit Fricks is definitely going on my radar, and this is going down as one of my favorite ya mystery books. I recommend. 

- e- arc provided by simon and schuster for my honest review. all opinions are my own!
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I got this arc from NetGalley and these opinions are my own. I think this book was a twisty ride! There is so much morally gray in this book and I really enjoyed that. I often thing about how far someone would go for someone they love and truly people that you couldn’t know until you were faced with that dilemma. This book really captures that! Calliope is tired of being the girl in a small town whose mom died in an accident, one that almost killed her and her two sisters. She enrolls in a private school, one her mom attended, hoping to understand her mom better and also see if she can figure out what happened that night because she doesn’t believe her mom would try to kill them or herself. At school she joins a secret society, that her mom was also in. There goal is to promote social justice on campus and call injustices to attention! It’s all fun and games but is there something more to the secret society? Are they somehow connected to her mom’s death? I think a lot of times secret societies are shown as people who get away it’s crappy things so I like that this society was a group of people working for social justice goals! I liked that while the group did good there is still some morally gray area in how the group proceeds with their “larks” as they call them. As with most secret societies there even more gray then they originally seem to be and I think some very interesting dilemmas are posed in the book. I feel like a lot happens towards the end of the book but the book doesn’t feel slow even with that! It’s intriguing and there’s enough intersecting mysteries going on to keep you engaged until the end! I’ve read some reviews that talk about the ending and if you like perfectly wrapped endings that will be difficult with this book, I found it fitting that the ending left you wondering! If felt appropriate for a book riddled with moral dilemmas and gray areas! I liked Calliope and she’s very relatable! Kit Frick’s book is perfect for people who like mysteries and a definite read!
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I was so excited to get approved to read Very Bad People. I read this in an afternoon and it was a deliciously dark and suspenseful ride. I love dark academia and I know that my students are going to enjoy this one.
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Very Bad People was a nice boarding school thriller/mystery. Calliope is one of three sisters from a very small town where everyone knows each other and everyone knows that Calliope's mother and sisters were all in a car accident that killed her mother. But no one knows why. Calliope enrolls in an exclusive boarding school in an effort to get some distance but also to learn more about who her mother was. Soon Calliope finds herself with more mysteries than she can handle. 

I enjoyed this one for the secret society and for Calliope's healthy skepticism. I loved the overall tone of the book - gave me Virgin Suicides meets The Skulls vibes. However, some resolutions felt too ambiguous and unresolved for me to be satisfied.
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