Sasha’s best friend Xavier is finally getting his life back together, and it’s all thanks to her. It’s his birthday, and she takes him out to celebrate. Sasha’s planning on asking him out. But then his evil, scheming, cheating ex Ivy comes back into the picture and whisks Xavier away, and everything Sasha had built up with Xavier is over in an instant. Unknowing to Xavier, Sasha’s got a plan. She’s got to stop Ivy before she ruins her innocent, naive friend She needs to protect him. Without really thinking, she creates a plan: pretend to be a guy online to show Xavier the dirty truth. But that’s when things go completely out of control. Now Sasha doesn’t know who she it and what’s next, and is everything really as it seems?
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is a 2017 young adult thriller by Lynn Weingarten, and it was one of the many books I hurriedly borrowed out from the library the day before everything was about to close way back in March. While I’ve read a lot more this year than I have in previous years, it still took me ’til the end of last month to finally get through to this book. I needed something quick and easy after I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and while, yes, it was quick and easy, but was it worth it?
Simply: kinda, but not really. It was definitely a page-turner. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces was interesting and I read it very quickly. My main concern was that it spent far too much time with Sasha telling the reader that she’s made a terrible mistake and if only she had just gone home that night and slept, nothing bad would have happened. And while what happens isn’t that great, it just grated on me after chapters of just woe is me my life changed irrevocably after that day and I just wanted the author to stop procrastinating the plot. I haven’t read very many YA thrillers but from what I have read, this seems to be what YA thrillers love to do to us. One I do remember from the early ’00s, Pool Party by Linda Cargill, had this problem, and its way of keeping you hooked was OTT cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that grates and dramatic end hooks that eventuate into nothing (I feel like R.L Stine helped with this). It’s good for someone just getting into thrillers, who want to dip their toes into a new genre, but as someone who’s read a lot, it just doesn’t do it for me.
Despite this, I was still surprised by the turn of events, and the realisation at the end. I was annoyed with Sasha and how quickly she turned against Xavier, and was pleased with how everything panned out, even though who Sasha ends up with at the end is completely stupid. It became a bit ridiculous at times, but I just read it for what it was, about the over-the-top nature of teenage relationships, how despite Sasha saying she’s not like other teenagers she’s really not that different from them, and how much that can get blown out of control due to a simple act of manipulation. No character gets let off easy, and nobody technically has a happy ending. Sasha forces herself to be with someone she truly doesn’t care about, and the killer doesn’t get sweet justice we tend to expect, because not everything is neat and black-and-white.
While Bad Girls with Perfect Faces is not a book I would reread, or stuck out memorably, it’s fine if you just want something quick and easy with lots of twists and turns that will keep you engaged for a couple of hours, then this is perfect for you. You never know who is truly good or bad, who to like and who to hate (personally, I loathed Ivy, but what happened to her leaves you thinking; did she truly deserve that? Could she have become a better person? Was there ever any good in her? Was Xavier truly as naive as he appeared? Did he deserve to be framed [of course not]?). I liked how the characters were multifaceted and while they started off cliched (Weingarten just did a boring old gender swapping: Sasha is strong and Xavier is weak, and look how smart I am, oh I am so original for doing this), we learn how everyone is not who they appear at face value. Not amazing, not terrible, just good, and fine for what it was.