Book Reviews

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum // Book Review

Blurb

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behaviour messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

Rating

Review

I thought I knew where this story was going, a cute fake dating romance featuring prank wars between two rival schools. But it flipped the script on me three quarters of the way through, with a uncomfortably descriptive appearance of sexual assault by a male teacher, which threw me.

Most of the story is fairly predictable, in her final year at school Doe finds out that her school, a girls only school and her rival, Three’s boys only school, are merging. She decides to royally irritate him by fake dating his cousin Wells, who of course she develops feelings for.

I actually really liked Wells. He was a decent guy, funny, intelligent, loyal. He never messed Doe around and made his feelings for her known when he realised them. On the other hand, as Three was such a big part of Doe’s life, I never felt that we got under the surface of him. Doe herself I frequently found to be annoying, and selfish.

The sexual assault storyline did feel like it hit me out of the blue – there was clues leading up to it, with frequent mentions of the teacher being one to avoid, but the story often moved quickly back into the prank war storyline. I couldn’t help but feel that the sexual assault storyline was added in later, and the moments leading up to it written in quickly.

Overall, this was a good story, I just don’t see myself reading it again and I did wish that the sexual assault storyline was scrapped altogether in favour of a lighter read – I didn’t think the heavy scenes worked well with fake dating / prank war tropes that are usually used in light, fluffy reads.

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments!

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