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Secret Society (Secret Society Series #1)

Secret Society (Secret Society Series #1)

3.1 24
by Tom Dolby

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Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. . . .

An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York's wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn't ask to be Society


Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. . . .

An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York's wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn't ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything—even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they're forced to get on the nape of their necks. Once they're part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It's all perfect—until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.

Tom Dolby makes his teen fiction debut with this riveting novel about a dangerous society so secret that once you get in, you can never get out.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There’s plenty of pomp, snootiness and closely guarded secrets to go around in this first book in a planned series, Dolby’s foray into YA writing. A group of 15 teens—plucked from the cream of New York’s Nat Sherman–smoking, Marc Jacobs bag-toting prep school elite—are given VIP passes to a glamorous underground world. Exclusive all-night parties in undisclosed locations are the norm, bottomless alcoholic beverages are supplied and unquestioning loyalty is expected. Following three chosen ones—fledgling club promoter Nick, wannabe artist Phoebe and jewelry designer/fashionista Lauren—as well as outsider Patch, the foreboding story has the feel of a hazing about to go awry, especially when the three slowly realize that the Society and its “benefits” aren’t what they seem (confirming what readers will suspect all along). While the somewhat interchangeable characters teeter into archetypal/stereotypical territory, readers are likely to be too caught up in the suspense to notice. Dolby covered similar ground—private school upbringings, influence peddling and the deceptive merits of the nouveau riche lifestyle—in his second novel for adults, The Sixth Form, but who’s complaining if the formula works? Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Myrna Dee Marler
Three rich kids, Pheobe, Nick, and Lauren attend an ultra-cool mega-party in New York City's meatpacking district and get invited to join a secret society which will open the doors to all their dreams because of all of the influential people who also belong. A fourth kid, Patch, friend to the other three but not so rich, is not invited to join the society. So, as a budding filmmaker, he sneaks in and videotapes the entire initiation ceremony. When Patch is offered an opportunity to create a reality show based on the exclusive Chadwick School, he is faced with a conundrum, whether to use his secret tape or not. The powerful forces that want to keep the society secret pressure him and his three friends to get rid of the evidence. Patch, his loyalties torn, resists. Deaths and other mysterious happenings result. Further, the career dreams that each character has are, in reality, less than they seem to be at first. If young adults like to read about wealthy New York City teens living on the Upper East Side and getting in "pickles" that are a little more than they can handle in spite of their surface sophistication, this book will be a good escape. The ending is ambiguous and seems to set up the book as the beginning of a series. No sex and not much profanity but lots of teenage drinking. Reviewer: Myrna Dee Marler
VOYA - Jennifer McConnel
Phoebe Dowling has just moved across the country, leaving her beloved and familiar Los Angeles behind to take up residence in the Big Apple. On the third day at her elite prep school, Phoebe receives an invitation to an upscale party being thrown by one of her classmates. The party turns out to be nothing extraordinary, but the text message that Phoebe, Nick, and Lauren each receive is another thing entirely. Sent from an unknown phone number, the message tells them to leave the party and report to a mysterious address. Lauren and Nick realize that they have just been tapped for The Society, a secret organization renowned for its power and wealth. Membership in The Society is highly selective, and some of the most powerful figures in American history supposedly have been members. Despite the glamour and the promise of fame and fortune that The Society holds, things are not as idyllic as they seem, and Phoebe, Lauren, and Nick soon find themselves in a dangerous world that offers no escape. This novel was an exciting read but offers nothing to distinguish it from the countless other tales of secret societies and rich prep school students. The characters are slightly two-dimensional, but the suspense and fear they feel are skillfully built and provide incentive for the reader to continue. The story ends awkwardly and without any answers, as if a sequel is forthcoming, but readers will be left unsatisfied and confused. Reviewer: Jennifer McConnel
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Three privileged Manhattan teens who attend an exclusive boarding school receive mysterious text messages with the same unfamiliar address. They arrive at the designated location, where they are ushered into a large room filled with people dressed in evening attire and wearing masks. Alcohol flows freely as they mingle among the glamorous partiers. But too much alcohol makes them woozy, and they are led to a secret room where they are tattooed and sworn in as Society Initiates. At first, they feel privileged to be part of such an exclusive group. But when the Society shows its sinister side by doing away with members who step out of line, the girls rethink their membership and fight to save their friends and, ultimately, themselves. Dolby does a nice job of creating suspense and tension in the story, but an awkward plot, flat characters, and stilted dialogue make it disappointing. Also, the purpose of the secret society ("preserving the life that your parents want you to live") seems too weak to warrant secret meetings and dire happenings. E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion, 2008) is a better choice for readers interested in private schools and secret societies.—Kelley Siegrist, Farmington Community Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Already attending one of New York City's prestigious prep schools, Nick, Phoebe and Lauren are all invited to join The Society, an exclusive secret club that places its members on the fast track to power, success and wealth. As they become more involved, each must confront divided loyalties: Nick's best friend is preparing an expose, Lauren's new boyfriend is on a self-destructive path and Phoebe's artistic success is not fully her own. Pulling from the vast field of teen literature and pop culture, Dolby's attempted amalgamation of Gossip Girl, The Clique and Eyes Wide Shut never comes together. Half-formed relationships lead to forced character interactions, leaving readers overwhelmed by the author's guiding hand. Phoebe's early naivete is a grating plot device; how many teenagers actually believe the world is fair? Nick and Lauren are stereotypes of prep-school characters, and the author makes little effort to distinguish them from the other faceless students at their school. A broad ending leaves room for sequels, though this bland attempt at suspense needs no followup. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Secret Society Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years


What People are Saying About This

Melissa de la Cruz
"Lush, delicious, and decadent like the best New York novels, Secret Society combines Edith Wharton flair with Wes Anderson-style wit in an addictive, adventure-filled read. Get initiated now!"--(Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Blue Bloods)

Meet the Author

Tom Dolby is the author of the novels Secret Society, The Sixth Form, and The Trouble Boy. He was born in London, raised in San Francisco, and now divides his time between Manhattan's West Village and Wainscott, New York. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he received his BA in the history of art.

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Secret Society 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
RatherDashing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up at a discounted price, just because it sounded fairly interesting and the price was right. I was expecting some sort of Gossip Girl knock-off, and was slightly put off with how pretentious it sounded; how it offered "extras" into a world that clearly we the readers were unfamiliar with, making it seem like the author was forcing us to care about the characters as much as he did. A few weeks after I bought it, I picked it up one night when I couldn't sleep and ended up devouring it, finishing it only a few days later, in only about 3 sittings. Perhaps the characters are somewhat flat. Not the most fleshed-out that I've encountered (especially Lauren) but their dynamics made up for it. Usually this genre (such as Gossip Girl, etc) I don't particularly attach to a character simply because I find them completely unsympathetic, and the series is just a welcome indulgence into a world I will never know. But I did find myself rooting for the characters in this, which is probably what inspired me to keep reading, besides the suspense of the plot (which did feel cyclical at times, that things that were supposed to advance it only felt like filler). I found them relateable, despite that that were "well-to-do" types; they were presented as normal teenagers trying to find their way in the world and not necessarily spoiled brats that they could have been. I will mostly likely check out the next book in the series. I hope the next book offers more answers though, more development.
The_Book_Queen More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows that society splits itself into two groups-- the "In Group" and everyone else. But what if the "In" group went deeper than just old money and good looks? Prepare to be initiated into a society in New York that's only been whispered about for hundreds of years... What should have been yet another YA novel about the upper-crest teens in a big city turned out to be much, much more. Though Dolby only skimmed the surface in this book, he left us with enough tiny hints and interesting turns that suggest that beneath the Society's superficial surface lies something much more sinister and complex. If I have one "complaint" about the writing, it was the fact that Dolby switched from one character's POV to another-- without a break in paragraphs, cue, or other kind of heads up for the reader. And the POV's could change as many as three or four times-- in only a few chapters! Now, I don't mind reading a story from more than one person's POV, but I don't like getting lost in every chapter as the author switches without telling us so. By doing this, he also short changed the characters as well-- I didn't connect to any of them as much as I would have liked, and they weren't as deep or developed as they should be. Where was the main character for this book? I wanted to say it was Phoebe, but even her character wasn't as complicated as she should have been. This could have been easily fixed, I think, if the author had only changed the layout of writing, sticking with one or two characters' POV, and set aside a certain chapter for each one. This would have allowed not only the character development, but kept the story from seeming choppy. Despite this one flaw, I did thoroughly enjoy Secret Society--- the mystery of what exactly the Society is, what they're hiding, grabbed my attention and held it until the very end. I'd love to read more from this author, and I hope that he's got plans for a sequel or two, since this one left us on such a cliff hanger... 4 STARS! Overall, a great read for anyone! A refreshing take on an all-too-true cliche that money and status equals power-- and how some people will do anything to keep their secrets. Don't miss out on this one-- prepare to be initiated this September when Secret Society hits store shelves!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this series rather boring. The story line took forever for it to get some what interesting. I found myself drifting off halfway through the series. The only thing interesting was maybe the last 50 pages of the book, and at the end I found myself disappointed. When I completed the book I asked myself " that's it"....after all that I read this is how the author decides to end the book. For anyone looking for something to read, honestly don't bother.
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
It may not be the most elegantly written, but Secret Society sucks you in and doesn't let go until the last page. Though it's not this beautiful, lyrical piece of work, Tom Dolby has created a story that kept me on the edge of my seat. We only learn things as the characters learn them, and as things become more dangerous and fast paced, you can't help but turn the page, wondering just what is going to happen next - and what is the Society up to? I enjoyed it; I didn't want to put it down, even though I had to. (Sleep was required.) It was the first thing I did when I woke up, though - I picked it up and finished reading. The main characters are real, and I loved reading about them. I felt that the background characters - Nick's father, for instance - fell a little bit flat, as if they didn't really have a reason for doing what they do. But I suppose that's part of the Society's hold, isn't it? There were a lot of questions about the Society itself left at the end of the book, though all the plot points had been wrapped up, so I wasn't quite satisfied. However, as we were learning with the characters, and they didn't know everything at the end, I suppose that's to be expected. I only hope the *sequel* answers some of those questions!
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
At first I thought this was going to be another "Gossip Girl" style book, but it had a lot more mystery to it. There is a lot of alcohol abuse and a few deaths, so its not for younger readers, but if you are a junior or senior in high school, you might like it. Take some elements of GG and put in some mystery and you get Secret Society. It does jump around from character to character so its a lot like watching a TV show, just stay alert to who is the narrator and you can figure it out. The characters are not real well formed, but this was the first in the series so the author is probably holding out some secrets for later books. I like the settings and its just a fun book to get your society fix with.
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ali_catt More than 1 year ago
When I first read Sercret Society, I didn't finish it. Then I waited a long time before picking it up again, so I read it over, this time finishing it. It was a good book, but not great. Some parts to me were kind of boring, but otherwise it was okay.
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defygravity22 More than 1 year ago
i loved this book overall. there were somepoints where i found myself kind of bored but there were so many secrets to find the answers to, that i could not stop reading. it took awhile for the action to start happening but the through the build up you get to know the characters more than if everything happend faster. i am depressed the sequal will not be coming out until winter 2011 (it is call The Truth) but i will read it when it is finally released.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In SECRET SOCIETY, we follow the lives of four students from Chadwick Prep, one of the most elite prep schools in New York City. Phoebe is the eccentric new girl in town, Nick is the up-and-coming member of one of the wealthiest families in New York, Lauren is the budding socialite, and Patch is an amateur filmmaker. There is something else about these students that make them special - three of them have gained the interest of The Society. The Society is a secret group of people whose mission is to "preserve a way of life." I, for one, have always had a major interest in secret societies and so I was already excited about this book, and Tom Dolby has definitely done his research with this. The imagery is so vivid that I actually found myself waking up from dreams about this book and about these characters, which is a major thing for me since most books don't get in my head like that. Some people are probably thinking "Oh no, not something else about a secret society," but this is majorly different. Think Gossip Girl (the show) meets The Skulls (Paul Walker/Joshua Jackson movie from 2000). After receiving text messages that tell them to go to a gritty downtown warehouse, the three students begin the initiation into The Society. This initiation concludes with each of them receiving an ankh shaped tattoo on the nape of their necks. Once they are entered into The Society, they start gaining everything they were promised: fame, fortune, friends in high places, parties, private town cars that deliver them to and from events. But what's the price they must pay in order to have these rewards? Things start changing when the body of a young male is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks, aside from the ankh tattoo on this neck. Then they start to wonder - is all of this worth the risk? But questioning The Society in that way can be very dangerous to not only their careers, but also to their lives and the lives of the people they care about. I loved this book! I mean totally loved it! Some of the characters are a bit clichéd, but I think in order to really relate to them at all, they needed to be. I also love the whole secret society thing. I find it so interesting and I have read all kinds of stuff about them, fiction and nonfiction alike. There are so many legends and depictions of these societies and I can't help but to be fascinated. SECRET SOCIETY is a book I will read again. There are so many twists and turns that I didn't see coming and I can't wait to see how they pan out in the next book in the series. Definitely a must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've completed the book, my comments are above.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book. It was very stereotypical. Full of drinking, shopping, socializing. Not all teens are that way. I would have liked to see something more from the characters. The story itself was lacking. Nothing really made sense. The concept of a secret society based on success was interesting but there was no development. The ending was horrible. Nothing was resolved, things actually got worse. Very disappointing. Not worth the time it took to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished and thought I would chime in on the conversation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found Secret Society frustrating for many reasons. The secrecy of what this society was about and involved in was like a carrot ever dangling in front of me. I understand that was the idea behind the book but at the same time without that nagging need to solve the mystery there wasn't anything else to compel me to continue reading it. I probably wouldn't have even finished it without that ever present "carrot". The book moved slowly for me, with some what tedious events. Where the book had ended should have been actually where the story finally got started. What Dolby took a whole book to get to, most authors take a few chapters. Perhaps, the "carrot" dangled for too long. With the story broken up into 4 different P.O.V's is was hard to connect with any of the characters. It only allowed us a little bit of insight into each one, as if we are only mere acquaintances with each of the characters instead of getting to know them on a deeper level. After finishing the book I still don't know much about any of them. I like a book that makes me feel vested in the characters, to be emotionally attached. Secret Society lacks that draw. This is the beginning of a series but yet I don't care much about what happens. I'm undecided whether I will read the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
REceived a free copy for my blog! But found it very similar to the blue bloods series. Too bad it could have been fun, but I kept getting deja vu as I tried to read it.