"Review My Books" Review by Valerie
Don't Get Mad #1
by Gretchen McNeil
Series: Don't Get Mad
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Original edition (September 16, 2014)
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The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.First off, this book is described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars but I would have to say that statement is only half true; it is perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars with its intrigue, the paranoia, and the mysterious envelopes that divulge long buried secrets. On the other hand, it is nothing like The Breakfast Club, that’s just absurd.
Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.
When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.
This book revolves around four girls who are essentially vigilantes, they notice wrongs at school and try to right them. It actually reminded me a lot of The Amazing Spiderman (I just recently watched both of them); he attempted to help the police by using his abilities for good but he was viewed as a nuisance and a criminal. These four unlikely girls from different groups at school came together to stand up for the victims of bullies and to give the bullies a dose of their own medicine. The school had a divided view on the organization Don’t Get Mad, some thought that the DGM were troublemakers while others respected them, much like Peter Parker. I am not one for revenge but I understood where these girls were coming from, they weren’t content to just sit by while bullies ran rampant. One thing I found to be interesting was the distinction they made between manufactured lies and the truth, they did not make up stories about the bully but simply use their hypocrisy against them. Since they were all from different groups around the school, they each had unique skills that when combined together, made for one cohesive group.
What did I love about this book? The plot! I found it to be SO interesting and compelling; I genuinely wanted to know what happened and learn more about the mystery. I felt like a cat diligently chasing a toy, I was completely enthralled until the very end. The book is really easy to immerse yourself in, the plot is constantly moving along and there are an ample amount of reasons and motives that one could have for killing Ronny. This would explain why I became crazy paranoid of every character in this novel; when I was halfway through the book, I could have made a compelling argument for every single character and why they could have killed Ronny. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this book was particularly scary but it does keep you on edge; I read this before bed one night and I woke up to the slightest noise, ready (in my mind) to attack. The paranoia just added to the book, I never wanted to put it down because it got to the point where I needed to know whodunit.
What I didn’t like about this book is comprised of basically all of the other elements aside from the plot and the writing. First off, the story is told in alternating POVs between the four girls but there is no rhyme or reason to the order of the POVs. This was frustrating for several reasons, first off, the POV change would usually happen after a paragraph break but not always, sometimes there would be a break and it would continue to be the same character. Secondly, it made for an unequal balance of POVs or at least it felt that way, I read way more through Bree’s POV than Margot or even Olivia.
The believability wasn’t there for me either, I didn’t buy that there would really be an organization called Don’t Get Mad and a rival organization to combat DGM, The Maine Men. Also, the two main adults in this book were idiots but more than that, they were idiots with power; basically I think I could have made better decisions than them at the age of twelve. It might seem like all this should detract more than one and a half stars but the plot was just that good.
WARNING: remove all objects from your reach as you near the end and remember, there’s another one coming out next year.
To wrap it all up: I really did enjoy the story, I was constantly on the edge of my seat and always unaware of whom the killer was. The book is written really well but characters and the believability were negatives for me. With that being said, I am so caught up in the mystery that I will definitely read the sequel and any other books after that. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. This is one of those books that needs to be discussed with someone, so if anyone ends up reading it, contact me on twitter or Good Reads and let me know. It’ll keep you guessing.