Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release date – 15th May 2018
After getting caught hooking up with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracized. She plans to keep her head down until she graduates. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing from a dealer, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking in the shadows of her Brooklyn private school. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is—and own it. The longer she plays the role of “bad girl,” the more she becomes her new reputation. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.
The Accidental Bad Girl is not a bad book – you can see this by the amount of glowing reviews posted by readers on Goodreads – but I have to admit that it did fall a bit short for me.
I was expecting a badass feminist book that gave me chills down my back and tears in my eyes, but what I got was a bit…clunky and unrealistic.
Let me explain:
At the beginning of the book, Kendall is caught about to have sex with her best friend’s boyfriend in the school gym. She is ostracised and slut shamed by her peers at the beginning but then I feel like the slut shaming sort of fades into the background to allow the next Big Thing to happen to Kendall. It’s brought back up near the end when we get to see a gym teacher exclude Kendall because of the ‘sex with my best friend’s boyfriend’ thing, but it’s sort of brushed off and isn’t dealt with at all.
I think, had Maxine Kaplan stuck with the subject of high school slut shaming by her peers and also the people who are meant to be role models, my rating would probably be higher. But then we find out that someone is framing her, making it look like she stole some drug dealer’s drugs, and she gets dragged into all that business and it just got a little bit silly and far-fetched for me.
Like, this fella, this criminal drug lord blackmails Kendall into working for her.
How? By saying he’ll get her kicked out of her space camp summer program.
I’m sorry, maybe I’m just a massive underachiever with no ambition in life, but if a drug dealer told me I had a choice between space camp and delivering his drugs, you can bet your arse I’ll be waving space camp goodbye.
So, yeah, I feel like Maxine was trying to fit too many lessons in this book, and while they were brought to attention initially, I don’t think they were really brought to a close properly. The slut shaming and the rape storylines needed more fleshing out, instead of just a few mentions here and there.
And, also, the person who framed Kendall? This kid needs serious help. Like, I can hold a grudge like a total champ. Would I steal from a drug dealer and frame somebody else (effectively ruining their life in the process) because they made fun of me? No. Because it’s much more therapeutic to print out their Facebook profile picture and pin it on the dartboard.
Despite the fact that this review isn’t exactly glowing, I didn’t actually find this book entertaining, and the writing is very impressive for a debut novel. Sometimes debuts have very mechanical dialogue, but Maxine’s characters are very natural, and the conversation flows nicely. Kendall also has supportive parents! Supportive parents in YA books really gets me going, I’m telling ya.
*thank you to the publisher for providing an arc via NetGalley*