Jan 2014. 416 p. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, hardcover, $17.99. (9781442423244).
“Good girls don’t usually kill their best friend,” announces high-school junior Emma in an opening, flashforward scene that clinches immediate interest. After living all her life as a social recluse with an overprotective psychiatrist father, the teen seizes their relocation to L.A. and entrance into a prestigious prep school as an opportunity to redefine herself.
When most of the female students appear to be straight out of the movie Mean Girls, Emma latches on to rebellious and manipulative Siobhan. Together they set their sights on Afterparty, the height of L.A. parties, and create a bucket list of bad behaviors to check off along the way.
While Emma pretends to make Dylan just another check mark, she falls hard for this first love, causing a strain with ever-controlling Siobhan. But could it also lead to murder?
In Stampler’s unflinching look at wealthy, decadent youth and complicated relationships, there are no easy answers. Realistic characters with tight dialogue add to the tension—and there’s plenty of it. — Angela Leeper