"Pretty Dead Girls" was an interesting YA thriller following Penelope (Pen/Penny) in the aftermath of a death of a frenemy, Gretchen. Soon, another frenemy, Alexis (Lex) turns up murdered also. The killer is targeting the Larks, a school organization composed of 5 seniors and 5 juniors- girls who seemingly organize social events for the school. The most popular girls are on the committee, and Penelope is president. Gretchen and Lex are both senior Larks- so which of the three remaining will be next? I won't say too much so as not to give it away.
All the main characters are typical mean girls, which sometimes makes it hard to like/empathize with them. They seem more consumed with their popularity than with the fact that people are dying, throwing an ill-advised party right after the second murder. Penelope, whose first person point-of-view we follow, is a little better, voting against the party and seemingly feeling a little bad about the murders, but she often felt self-absorbed. Soon, she is approached by Cass, an attractive but unpopular boy (his mother murdered his father which made him a social outcast), who has a theory about who is killing off the Larks.
Cass and Penelope team up to start investigating who is killing the Larks, though their investigation is extremely amateur and most of their time is spent on romance. That being said, the romance was done very well with some very steamy kisses. The investigation, not so much, as Penelope seems to fixate on one person as the culprit and Cass has a bunch of theories. This book ended up feeling more like a romance than a thriller, which can be good for some audiences, although it was not quite what I expected. There were some interspersed chapters from the point-of-view of the murderer, and these were really interesting- I would have liked to see even more of those, as those were the most thriller-feeling sections.
Overall, it was a solid YA romance with some light thriller elements. I found it to be a pretty fast read, as it does move very well/smoothly. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.