Pretty Dead Girls
PRETTY DEAD GIRLS by Monica Murphy is a YA thriller in which all the popular senior girls at Cape Bonita are slowly being killed off one by one. Penelope, president of the Larks, a super selective group for the most intelligent, athletic, and attractive girls in high school, is terrified she’s the next target. To make matters worse, the detectives are treating her like she’s a potential suspect. In order to stay safe, Penelope teams up with Cass, a mysterious and compelling boy from her physics class, and the two of them try to catch the killer before it’s too late.
I read this book in one day, partly because I scare easily and wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing the resolution, but also because it’s an easy read. Murphy does a great job at keeping the momentum going and building tension with each scene. The chapters written from the killer’s perspective are disturbing, and help foster the suspenseful atmosphere. It’s also impossible not to ship Penelope and Cass, especially because his character in particular is so nuanced and well developed. Their romance is swoonworthy, and a nice break from the horror elements.
With that being said, it took me about one hundred pages to realize the book was being told from two perspectives. Unlike most other novels that have multiple points of view, there are no headers in PRETTY DEAD GIRLS to indicate that the perspective has shifted. Instead, the book utilizes two different fonts to indicate when it’s Penelope and when it’s the killer. However, the fonts are not different enough to have the clear, intended effect. As a result, I spent the first third of the book completely confused as I thought Penelope was the killer and she was suffering from a severe mental break. One minute she's scared for her life, the next, she's taking someone else’s. Once I figured out what was going on though, I was able to start enjoying the book.
As a big fan of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS who is having withdrawals since the show ended, Murphy’s novel comes at the right time. It strikes a lot of similar notes to the beloved series, but is new and interesting enough to stand on its own. I’m happy that this particular mystery is solved in this book and not left on a cliffhanger, but I would welcome seeing Cass and Penelope back in action against a new crime.