Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Review: VERY BAD THINGS by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, a highly decorated private school where Nora Blakely is the senior class president. She is a genius. She is talented. She is beautiful. She is perfect.

“How freaking wonderful it is to be a student at BA, how super terrific it is if you study hard and make good grades, and how awesomely fantastic it is to be rich and smart in a crappy, little world.” (5) Nora wants to escape her “perfection” because, deep down, her life is anything but. The reality is that is “ugly” wrapped up in a “pretty” package. And she wants to rip that package apart.

Then enters Leo, who is captivated by this seemingly bad girl. At first, you wonder why Leo would be so intrigued by this out-of-control Nora, who seems to be suffocating in her rich, perfect life. But Leo sees past her “perfection” and realizes that she has secrets.

“There were lots of things in life I didn’t get. How the universe was formed. How bed bugs can totally wipe out a hotel. Why Romeo and Juliet didn’t just talk it out before they offed themselves. Why needy people fish for compliments on Facebook. But, most of all, I didn’t get why my mother hated me.” (194)

Leo and Nora form a special bond, a trust and deep affection, a lust that never sways. Certain details were a bit too salacious. I mean, Leo and Nora were just obsessed with each other, crazed by each other, wanting to perform depraved sexual acts on one another. Ewe! But then the obsession eventually turns into a longing, a desire to hold and never let go, an epiphany to the meaning of love and soulmates. This part was rather sweet.

Ultimately, this is about a girl’s quest to be loved and her willingness to do ANYTHING for it. Basically, she was being bad to the attention she so desperately craved. At first, you’ll think she’s just nothing but another spoiled, rich girl. Still, if I were Nora and had that control freak of a mother, I’d get sick of being “perfect” too. The mother is just so scary. You almost feel sorry for her in that sense. Only when you read on do you realize how screwed up Nora really was and why she feels so compelled to be bad. She believes she is bad, but she really is not. Eventually Nora realizes that for herself as she attempts to free herself from her dark, heavy burden.  Like she said, “truth can be awful and even excruciating, but once it’s released, it’s like a bird that’s been caged too long who finally flies to freedom.” (264)

“One way or another, we’re all placed six feet under. It made me even more determined to live the rest of my life as a happy person.” (295)

Deep down, I wanted Nora to end up with Leo. I kept hoping for it.

Deep and emotional.  An enticing read!

My rating: 4 stars

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