Title: Wicked Little Secrets
Author: Kara Taylor (Prep School Confidential)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Anne Dowling becomes entangled in a web of secrets involving a missing student and a conspiracy at Wheatley Prep in this fast-paced, juicy follow-up to Prep School Confidential
Anne Dowling—a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private—is back for her second semester at Wheatley Prep. Although things have settled (somewhat) since her roommate Isabella’s death, Anne’s still kind of obsessed with the disappearance of Wheatley student Matthew Weaver thirty years ago, since she found a picture of him and his crewmates with the words “they killed him” scrawled on the back among Isabella’s things.
When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger. Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.
As was the case with Prep School Confidential last year, this book was quite enjoyable with some stumbling bits throughout but a great ending that left me wanting to read the next book immediately.
Things started off kind of slowly because I didn’t quite remember everything that happened with the last book and I was reading some other books that were distracting me a bit, but overall the beginning managed to capture my attention. Some of the recaps stumbled a bit while others were helpful, but at least there wasn’t a case of info-dumping or anything.
Once I get into the story and remembered the previous book well enough to get swept away, I was totally into the story. I wanted to know what had happened to Matthew Weaver and I wanted to learn more about the shady crew team and I just wanted to read more about Anne. She was sometimes a bit judgmental and in a weak story I would have had more problems with her and some of her inner commentary, but I was having too much fun discovering new details and clues to mind as much. Sometimes the story stumbled, like when Anne commented on the fact that a boy wouldn’t notice her hair or something because he has two X chromosomes and even I, as a not-so-great-at-biology person, was thrown off and had to think for a moment because I could have sworn that boys had the illusive Y chromosome that apparently is needed to understand cars and tools and such (and if you don’t recognize that for sarcasm, that makes me even sadder than this typo) and as far as I knew the character wasn’t one of those XXY people who has male and female anatomy. Small mistakes like this one and Anne checking something on her phone after her old one broke but a few pages before she picked up her new one sometimes pulled me out of the story, unfortunately.
As I’ve already said, Anne continues to interest me as a protagonist, and she’s surrounded by some equally interesting friends, classmates, and suspects. I don’t love all the characters and many of them could be much more fleshed out, especially her friends that I want to learn so much more about, but I enjoyed reading about all of these other characters and learning whatever I could about them.
Anne’s private school continues to be an intriguing and terrifying place. There are ornate buildings, libraries with plenty of information and some creepiness, and secret, underground tunnels where things are always scary because it’s always quite dark. The setting almost makes me want to go to the school just to breathe in the studious-seeming atmosphere, but I know I would be much too scared to stick around after dark.
The Adult Situation
Since it’s a boarding school, there isn’t a huge parent presence in this book, but there are some adults that Anne is sometimes willing to rely on. Most of the adults, however, are suspects, which makes sense since the main mystery is thirty or forty years old and all of Matthew’s old classmates are now the parents of her peers.
The love triangle from the first book continues into this one. I preferred one of the love interests more than the other one but was pretty neutral about both of them for the most part. I liked reading some of the romantic scenes, but in general I was kind of over all the romantic drama. I didn’t want to read about her issues with her boyfriend or her lingering feelings for the other boy – I wanted to read about the mystery!
The ending wrapped up the mystery with plenty of drama and shocks and such. At first I wasn’t sure how the series could continue with the Matthew Weaver mystery solved since it was there in the background in the very first book (so, for two books, but whatever), but there was an intriguing mystery that closed the novel and there’s definitely more mystery to be investigated in the next book now!
Well, after another enjoyable book and an ending that left us with questions, I need to get my hands on the third and final book which’ll luckily be out in a few months.