Kiss Me Kill Me -- Lauren Henderson

Kiss_me_kill_meFrom Kiss Me Kill Me:

I don't believe any of this is happening.  It can't be me who's bending to the bench to pick up my bag; who's managing to make eye contact with Luce and Alison, because I know the fury and betrayal I'll see if I catch their eyes.  It can't be me who's turning to Nadia, throwing a casual "See you tomorrow" over my shoulder at the girls, ignoring their deafening silence.  It can't be me crossing the road, walking side by side with Nadia Farouk, Plum's number-one sidekick, heading for the fountain.

But it is me betraying my friends, selling them out, leaving them behind the second something more glossy and shiny beckons.  Ninety-nine percent of me is fizzing with excitement when I allow myself to think that the golden doors are really happening to me, that I can at last be part of the world I've always wanted to join.

But the last one percent is saying:  Someone who would do this deserves everything she gets.

No prizes for guessing which part of me was right.

When 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield accepts an invitation to a party thrown by the popular (and yes, terrifying) girls of St. Tabby's, she has no idea that her attendance will result in both a dream come true and a unimaginable nightmare.

Now, months later, she's enrolled at Wakefield Hall Collegiate, a prep school where her grandmother is headmistress, where no one knows who she is -- or so she thinks.  An anonymous note in her desk proves otherwise, and Scarlett is forced to remember the night she'd rather forget:  The night that she kissed Dan McAndrew just before he dropped dead. 

Kiss Me Kill Me isn't an easy one to categorize.  It has elements of a mystery novel (for instance, erm, a mystery...).  The flashbacks as well as Scarlett's "I should have known better..." introduction made me think more specifically of the hard boiled detective* sub-genre.  It's also, though, a book about the power of cliques and popularity, and about the difficulty of changing schools.  I think different elements will stand out for different people:  for me, it was a crime novel.

There's a lot about body image in it as well -- Scarlett is a gymnast, so of course she's very aware of what she eats and of her body in general.  But I've been noticing it in YA books more and more -- not just in issue books, where The Issue Is The Focus, but in books like Sweethearts and Girl Overboard.  I don't find it particularly surprising, what with the importance our culture places on it -- but it's an interesting trend.  Keep an eye out.  I bet you'll start noticing it all over the place, if you haven't already.

I liked it a lot.  A lot, a lot.  The more I think about it, the more I like it.  But it's going to drive people crazy (I know, because I just barely managed to restrain myself from throwing it across the room when I finished) because it doesn't have a satisfying ending.  When I was about twenty pages from the end, I realized that the book is an introduction -- that it may take quite a few books to tell the story.  While (after my initial rage) I've made my peace with it (and am actually kind of dying for the next installment), all you have to do is read the Amazon reader reviews to see that there are readers who are not cool with the lack of resolution.  So that's definitely something to be aware of -- I'm thinking that when I booktalk it, I'm going to mention that it's the first in a series.

Colleen, I know you've been wanting more teen mysteries -- if you haven't read it, you might want to give it a try!

*There's another, more obvious bit that points to the HBD, but it's spoilery.