Whoa. Picked this up at the library because I wanted to do some research on the author's agent. Ended up dropping everything and devouring the whole thing. (Hint: Yesterday, both the guys were out of the house and I could have watched a movie while I worked out without bugging anyone. Instead, I spent my time on the ministep so I could read while I exercised.)
"Bad Girls" is paranormal contemporary YA horror novel that offers some terrific life lessons. Okay. It's a creepy ghost story. That's fun, too. But it also has a terrific sense of humor -- and the writer has a perfect sense of timing, not to mention a nice dark edge at times. I annoyed my family by quoting them bits like this, from the teenaged narrator who enjoys old-fashioned film-based photography and is worried that her parents are about to catch her outside, snapping pics, at three in the morning -- with her little sister Kasey, no less:
"_No putting yourself or Kasey in strange and/or potentially dangerous situations to take pictures_ was the latest incarnation of the rule that had once upon a time been _Don't go on the roof._ With every fresh misstep, the rule evolved -- _No taking pictures of retail merchandise; No taking pictures on other people's property; Don't use Kasey as a decoy to get photos of people who don't want to be photographed._ I was fairly sure that pretty soon it would just be _Put the camera down, sit on the sofa, and don't move._"
Alexis, the narrator in question, is going through a tricky patch with her parents just now. They're not evil, just a little too caught up in their own problems, a little too apt to throw out platitudes rather than tuning in to what's actually going on in front of them:
"'It wouldn't hurt you to show a little school spirit,' Mom said. As if she were a fan of high school football. Mom can take a simple observation, such as saying that it wouldn't hurt for a person to show a little school spirit, and say it in such a way that she might as well be saying, 'It wouldn't hurt you to stop clubbing those baby seals.'"
Of course, Alexis is not exactly an easy person to live with herself. She's perhaps a teensy bit judgmental:
"My mother uses a knife and fork on foods that were never meant to be eaten that way. I personally think a psychologist would have a lot to say about it."
Alexis posts flyers at her high school saying that "the vending machines on school property are a sign that our school district has sold out to the corporate-industrial establishment." She gives "honest feedback to a student teacher who should clearly quit while she's ahead." She throws "an anti-fashion show outside the gym during the choir's annual fashion show."
But she also cares deeply about her younger sister. And when said sister starts acting more than a little weird, and then starts displaying powers that seem positively otherworldly, Alexis throws all her wit and determination into figuring out how to save her family. Sometimes those bad girls are just the ones you want to have your back in a fight.
This book *ended* when it ended -- no loose ends, no outstanding mysteries, no "And what about Naomi?" As I've mentioned in other reviews, there's an annoying trend in YA fiction these days for first books to end on a cliffhanger. Somebody out there clearly decided that having series potential means that *every single new book in the world* can't just be itself, but has to be first in a series. Apparently Katie Alender went on to write a couple more books about Alexis and her family, and I'm excited to read them. I'm also very glad that she let this book finish telling its own story before she moved on to write more stories.