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Book Review: How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart et al

Vicks is the girl whose long-term boyfriend is suddenly MIA after going off to college.  Mel is the new girl in town who wants to make friends desperately.  Jesse is the religious, self-righteous girl running from a painful secret.  Each girl has her own reasons for wanting to get out of town for a couple of days.  Enter in an epic road trip filled with adventure, drama, and life-altering confessions.

This three-perspective book about teenage girls who empower themselves on a road trip is written by three popular YA authors.  Sarah Mlynowski, E. Lockhart, and Lauren Myracle each provide the voice of one of the narrators.  Each girl has a surprisingly distinct voice, and this is perhaps the book’s greatest achievement.  The novel has some truly cute moments, and any teenage girl who has ever dealt with friend drama will relate to the events that transpire between Bad‘s pages.

The problem is that the novel’s uneven pacing makes for a rather slow read.  There are moments where the story and the characters are quite compelling (if a little predictable), but it seems that every time the plot picks up it gets derailed again.  For a story that takes place over two days, it sure takes a long time to get anywhere.

While the three protagonists are fairly well-developed, the tertiary characters are not.  Everyone, from the love interests to the conspicuously absent parents, are largely forgettable.  Readers looking for a frothy read won’t mind so much, but hardcore fans of the authors’ other books might be disappointed if they’re looking for substance here.

Despite all that, there’s undeniable appeal in a book like this.  Combining the talents of three popular writers is a shrewd marketing move.  Pretty good summer reading (like, say, on a road trip) for readers looking for little substance and light fun.

How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski. HarperTeen: 2008.  Purchased for Kindle.

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