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Prettyboy Must Die: A Novel


Prettyboy Must Die: A Novel

Are you a teenager who spends time on social media, especially Twitter? If you answered yes, then you probably remember one photo from 2014 that went viral overnight. That’s right, Alex from Target. This photo of an attractive teen snapped at the right time and posted to social media with a clever caption quickly became a sensation that spurred spinoffs, memes and other creative content. One thing that was inspired by #alexfromtarget is Kimberly Reid’s newest novel #PRETTYBOY MUST DIE, an interesting take on viral internet stardom written with the same style and voice that captured readers in Reid’s last book PERFECT LIARS and original series Langdon Prep.

"The levels of action in this book were perfect and other themes of romance, humor and friendship shaped this book into more than a spy-action thriller. Short chapters and a quick pace made this book a speedy read and left me wanting more."

Peter Smith tries to blend in at school. With a Clark Kent-esque disguise of fake glasses and a matching school uniform blazer, he pretty much fits in with the rest of the preppy rich kids of Colorado’s Carlisle Academy. That is until one night, after shedding his disguise to go for a run, a classmate snaps a picture of Peter and posts it to social media with the caption “See #prettyboy run.” Before Peter knows it, the photo along with his identity is being spread across the school, the state, and even the country. To a normal teenager, this might not be a problem. But for unordinary teenager Peter, things couldn’t be worse. You see, Peter is a CIA agent and his whole job depends on a secret identity; one that no longer exists after his newfound internet fame. Recruited from his less than perfect life to be a hacker for the CIA’s newest program that trains teenagers to be spies, Peter’s face is now out in the world and his cover is blown --- especially to the Ukrainian criminals he knew from a previous undercover mission.

If a blown cover wasn’t bad enough, Peter soon discovers that the Ukrainian hostiles have taken over his school and are holding teachers, students and his crush hostage. So now Peter --- whose real name is Jake Morrow --- must fight the bad guys, protect his classmates and save the girl without any help from the outside.

This book was unexpected. After reading the description of the book I anticipated an intense James Bond meets Cody Banks spy thriller book, which was quite daunting to a person like me who tends to shy away from action packed novels. However, what I got from the book was a little more Spy Kids meets Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, which is not a bad thing at all! I really enjoyed the voice of Peter and his banter with the other characters. Sarcasm and normal teenage speak was sprinkled in among the spy action which broke up the thriller aspect of the novel nicely. I was also very intrigued by the different side characters. Peter’s best friend at Carlisle Academy is a boy nicknamed Bunker who has an unusual and fun backstory that shapes him into a character I haven’t encountered in other young adult books. The love interest of the story is a girl named Katie who quickly ditches the damsel in distress disguise and becomes a kick butt, resourceful, intelligent woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and who can take care of herself, even when faced with Ukrainian rebels.

Other things that surprised me about this book were the numerous twists and turns that were presented to the reader. The levels of action in this book were perfect and other themes of romance, humor and friendship shaped this book into more than a spy-action thriller. Short chapters and a quick pace made this book a speedy read and left me wanting more.

However, there were a few things I was disappointed with. One was that the #alexfromtarget and social media theme was relatively absent from the book. I was excited to see where Reid would go with that idea of how social media impacts teenagers, but beyond the initial posting of the #prettyboy picture, not much else was mentioned in regards to this. Another thing about this novel that wasn’t my favorite was that the parts that talked about the Ukrainian rebels and their plot to invade the school was confusing. All of the attackers were referred to by their last names and at points I got lost in the international spy plot and lingo.

Overall this is a great book for anyone who loved Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series or who is looking for a book that includes a little bit of everything. The action plot wasn’t very thick, and short chapters and easier language made the book a cute and fun read. All the good that comes with this book outweighs the things I didn’t like as much and made #PRETTYBOY MUST DIE worth the read! Check this book out if you were someone who retweeted #alexfromtarget or someone who loves a quick novel that is full of twists, turns and diverse and interesting characters.

Reviewed by Ellie T., Teen Board Member on February 27, 2018

Prettyboy Must Die: A Novel
by Kimberly Reid