Very Bad Things

Overview

A dark, moody, boarding-school murder mystery teens won’t be able to put down.
 
Katie never thought she’d be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her—but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can’t stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn’t remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, ...

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Very Bad Things

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Overview

A dark, moody, boarding-school murder mystery teens won’t be able to put down.
 
Katie never thought she’d be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her—but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can’t stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn’t remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, and Mark is in big trouble. Because it looks like Rose isn’t just gone . . . she’s dead.

Maybe Mark was stupid, but that doesn’t mean he’s a killer.

Katie needs to find out what really happened, and her digging turns up more than she bargained for, not just about Mark but about someone she loves like a sister: Tessa, her best friend. At Whitney Prep, it’s easy to keep secrets . . . especially the cold-blooded kind.

“I’ll read anything by Susan McBride.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris

People are saying GOOD THINGS about VERY BAD THINGS . . .
 

 “A compelling mystery that will suck readers in and keep them turning the pages to reach the exciting conclusion.” —Joelle Charbonneau, New York Times bestselling author of The Testing 

"Fans of the Pretty Little Liars series will appreciate the high drama and plot twists."—School Library Journal

"Fast-paced, well-crafted  . . . this will be a popular book."—VOYA

 “A white-knuckled climax.”—Booklist
 
“An eerie psychodrama.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
 
“The venerable yet sinister school, complete with a web of subterranean steam tunnels, is as absorbing as the tightly wound mystery.”—Publishers Weekly  

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/01/2014
In her first book for teens, adult author McBride (the Dropout Debutant Mystery series) draws readers into upper-crust society and the dangerous secrets that lie beneath it. Fifteen-year-old Katie has felt unsettled during her four years at a New England prep school, despite having a loyal best friend in her roommate Tessa and dating Mark, a hockey star and the headmaster’s son. Lately she has reason to worry: several students seem to want Katie’s relationship with Mark to end, and she suspects someone is following her, leaving roses in the library and her room. Then a “sex pic” of Mark and a Katie lookalike circulates, and after the girl in the photo turns up dead, Mark claims he can’t remember anything about the night when it was taken. To save her future with Mark, and possibly their lives, Katie tries to find the killer. McBride’s fast-paced plot is fueled by jumps between multiple characters’ perspectives, and her rendering of the venerable yet sinister school, complete with a web of subterranean steam tunnels, is as absorbing as the tightly wound mystery. Ages 12–up. Agent: Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Oct.)
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Ava Ehde
Katie can barely believe Mark, the good-looking star center on the Whitney prep school hockey team and son of the headmaster, is her boyfriend. In fact, she is stunned to realize he was waiting for her after the poetry slam she had organized ended. She falls for him hard the day he shows her the secret tunnels which come out in the greenhouse, where he cut a blooming rose for her hair. The last few years have been tough on Katie, losing her father at twelve and only making it to boarding school on a scholarship. Unfortunately, Mark has his detractors, including his former girlfriend, Joelle; his new teammate Steve; and Katie’s roommate and best friend, Tessa. Katie is stunned to learn that there are photos online of Mark and another girl which Mark cannot explain even when she is reported missing. Is he sincere or is he a liar? What secrets is he keeping? When a box addressed to Katie arrives with a severed hand, Katie realizes she cannot just walk away, but her digging leads to only more secrets. This fast-paced, well-crafted novel is written from the different points of view of Katie, Mark, and Tessa. The characters are interesting with realistic bonds that tangle their lives together. There are many subplots creating both mystery and complexity. This will be a popular book with a long and continuous list. Reviewer: Ava Ehde; Ages 11 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-12
At an exclusive, picture-perfect prep school, a grisly discovery leads to more sinister—and deadly—revelations. Katie Barton, a scholarship student at the exclusive Whitney Prep boarding school, harbors dark secrets that shattered her home life. Her roommate, Tessa, also on a scholarship, is her best friend and closest confidante, with some disquieting secrets of her own. Much to Tessa's chagrin, Katie has been dating privileged Mark Summers, a star athlete and son of the headmaster. However, one fateful day at her dorm, Katie receives a mysterious, tattered box. Inside, is a severed human hand with a rose tattoo. Soon after, Mark is indicted for the murder of the girl with the missing hand. Could he have done it? Or could Katie's jealous roommate have been involved? The plot is driven by a cast of stereotypical prep school attendees, and the psychological observations of these characters feel boilerplate and wooden. Some of the more serious issues in this book—like date rape—are breezily glossed over to make room for the central mystery. The adults (including a school psychologist) behave questionably and unrealistically, presumably also to accommodate the plot. Most disappointingly, most readers will have started putting the pieces of this mystery together very early on, making for a lackluster reveal at the credibility-defying conclusion. While the pages may fly, the shortcomings are abundant in this overly ambitious offering. (Mystery. 13-16)
School Library Journal
07/01/2014
Gr 7 Up—Katie has mostly recovered from the tragedy of her father's suicide and is excited about her future: graduation and college with her boyfriend Mark, a popular hockey athlete. She attends a prep school on scholarship and has found a best friend in her roommate Tessa. Katie's senior year takes a sudden turn, though, when a mysterious package arrives at the dorm for her and contains a gruesome object within. Soon she's questioning who she can trust and trying to piece together a story from a hazy night of partying that resulted in the death of an innocent teen girl. Fans of Sara Shepard's "The Pretty Little Liars" series (HarperCollins) will appreciate the high drama and plot twists. The horror elements are tame making this book appealing for middle grade readers as well as teens.—Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385737975
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/14/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 341,740
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: HL710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

SUSAN MCBRIDE is the award-winning author of fiction for adults and teens. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her husband, their daughter, and two cats who think they're dogs. You can visit her at SusanMcBride.com and on Facebook at SusanMcBrideBooks.

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