Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Stars: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5)
I want to apologize for taking almost 10 years to post this. I went on vacation and got out of the posting groove, so that’s my fault. I have another review to post as well, and it will hopefully be up Monday!
So if you read my July TBR, you’ll remember that I had some very negative predictions for this book. Well, it wasn’t PLL vibes, and it wasn’t exceptional and I didn’t love it, so I’d say my third prediction was right. I will admit that not everything was predictable, although the antagonist was very obvious – there was no mystery there. I wouldn’t say it was petty drama all the time, all though it was there. I’ll explain further in my analysis of this book, and there will probably be spoilers (if you call talking about something very predictable a spoiler).
Writing: Toten’s writing was good. It wasn’t the most beautiful thing in the world, but I did find some new metaphors that were unique. I think Toten did a good job of making Kate and Olivia’s voices very clear and opposite of each other – although I don’t understand why she wrote Kate in first person, and Olivia in third. It threw me off a bit and was slightly annoying to go back and forth between the two. I did like how she gave both perspectives. I also enjoyed how she wrote Redkin; he was portrayed very well as a villain, and he really gave me the creeps. Toten did a fantastic job of giving him the sociopath vibe. I also liked the contrast between Redkin and Kate’s father, and how her dad was supposed to have given her the “experience” to deal with Redkin. I did think it was interesting that Toten hinted at Kate possibly being a sociopath herself. It’s a thought-provoking idea, and if there were a sequel I’d like to see if it plays out. Overall, I think Toten invested well into the characters and ideas, although the writing was about average.
Plot: Some parts of the plot were very solid, while others bounced all over the place and really infuriated me. First of all, is the staff of Waverly School just stupid, or did they not think it was a good idea to check Kate’s address if they knew she was an orphan? I know it’s the USA and everything, but still. You’d think their school systems would be smart enough to check these things, even at a private school. Another thing that really bothered me was when the Sumner’s invited Kate to just live with them for free, after Olivia had known her for maybe two months. It just didn’t make sense, whether they were rich or not. They knew nothing about her; what if she was a serial killer? The logic there just didn’t really make sense to me. Secondly, the plot point of women being obsessed with Redkin just scared me. I was rooting for Kate the whole time, since she was the only logical one in the group. I mean, how could all of the grown women be dumb enough to not notice he was sleeping with like 6 different women? Including young girls that were barely 18?
But this leads me to the important issue of creepy older men taking advantage of easily influenced young women. I mean, Mark Redkin was 35. And he was obsessed with girls of 18, who were half his age. I mean, okay 5 years isn’t a big difference, and if the girls were late twenties I would say 10 years isn’t a lot either. But at 18? An 18 year gap is huge. This just made the situation super creepy. It also got weird when Toten revealed Redkin as a sociopath and I was so uncomfortable I almost stopped reading. It was very gross and made my skin crawl, just because of the content. So be warned if you decide to read this. One last thing I didn’t like, was how the Private school/rich life style “normalized” mental health issues, as if they were some accessory and you weren’t cool if you didn’t have any. I’m all for people with mental health issues being accepted fully and no longer having a stigma surrounding them, as it is a common issue, but I don’t feel Toten approached it the right way. As someone affected by mental health issues, I felt more disgusted than comforted at the way it was portrayed. I get it’s partially trying to show that anyone can have mental illness, rich or poor, but it just wasn’t executed properly in my opinion. That’s really what knocked down my rating for this book. I take these things seriously.
Characters: I’m only going to talk about the two protagonists in-depth, since the book switched between their perspectives. I just want to say that Mark Redkin is disgusting and he totally had it coming for him. I don’t even want to analyze his character apart from saying Toten really did a good job of portraying him as a sociopath. It also scared the jeebies out of me, so there’s that.
Kate: I found Kate to be a very interesting character, and I liked the dynamic she had with Olivia. I thought it was intriguing to see the comparison between her and her father, another character hinted at being a sociopath. I think this comparison and other hints at Kate being a sociopath herself really added to the story. I was rooting for Kate, I really was. I loved reading about a protagonist that was sneaky, a little too cocky, and that was working her way to the top. I have to give her props for her determination and drive – I’ve seen CEOs lazier than her. I thought her voice fit her character well, and it was interesting to read her story.
Olivia: I have more mixed feelings about Olivia’s character. I found her to be all over the place like a blender that was turned out without the lid. Although, I guess it makes sense to have a character diagnosed as psychotic be back and forth in personalities. The ending also freaked me out and really added a creepy factor to Olivia. The fact that she was becoming super freaky obsessive with Kate really threw a turn in the tables. Does Olivia now become the antagonist? Is everyone in this book a sociopath killer? I guess we will never know, the ending was, well, not very closed. Olivia also drove me nuts half the time she was such a petty rich girl, but you know, to each their own. I know they exist, but it was a bit maddening at times. I felt like I needed a few drinks at points Olivia was so naive.
The only positive I can see out of this is that it was cool to see a negative character development (if that even makes sense). I wouldn’t say Olivia is an anti-hero, not even close, but she developed negatively as a character. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean, due to the ending.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. I know a lot of people have DNF-ed it, and I can see why. I almost didn’t because of some super creepy parts, but I forged through and I’m still confident in my rating. It was good, but not good enough for a 4 star rating.
My next review should be up in a couple of days, keep a look out for it! And if you’ve read Beware That Girl, let me know what you thought of it!