Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected. The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her: evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
Willa was a fun and interesting female lead, though not without her own faults. While her idea of taking from the rich and giving to the scholarship kids is a great idea, I think her execution was a little flawed. Befriending and becoming close to those that you are essentially stealing from may be a good idea for reconnaissance, but actually becoming one of them and participating in things that you first judge as wrong is another note all on its own. Instead of adding to her cause, I think it hurt it a little by making her seem more naïve and passive aggressive than what she really is. Fortunately for her, she seems to redeem herself though maybe not as quickly as I would have liked to have seen.
The other characters played their parts well and stayed true to who they were. The Glitterati was the definite stereotypical lovable and popular group, yet with a devious mean streak in them to those that crossed their paths. The romantic interest was swoon-worthy in his own way, though the attraction seemed to add an air of question because of the lack of interaction between the two. I think the most refreshing part of the entire story was the relationship between Willa and her mother. So many times in YA, we see either negligent parents or just a lack of parenting in general. It’s nice to see a strong relationship between a mother and daughter. There was some mystery to Willa’s mother’s behavior throughout the novel as well, but their relationship seemed to stay intact for the most part.
Though it was a pretty laid back story, it never waned and ended up having a very good lesson to it. Between the plot and Ludwig’s quirky writing, Pretty Crooked is a fun read that will keep you entertained throughout the entire book.
1) Willa: At first she can see no fault in her new friends and refuses to believe they’d do anything bad, but when she finally sees the light she just turns a complete 180. I know she was taking from those who “didn’t deserve it” to give to those who did, but it got rather tedious listening to her rationalizing I over and over again. And I still don’t understand why she spent so long hating Aiden. Sure, there were some mentions that he was a player but we’re never actually shown that so the whole “no, I can’t! But I can’t stop thinking about him!” routine got old fast. And then the end? She goes from “I’ll never do anything wrong again” to “I’m ready to exact revenge and ignore the laws” in an absurdly short amount of time.
2) (This’ll be vague because I don’t want to spoil.) Why the heck did nobody turn them in when they found out who ran the stupid gossip site? I mean, you have proof and everything!
3) Glitterati. Can anyone really say that with a straight face?
4) Willa’s mom. What the heck is up with that?! Frankly, that mystery was just more annoying than intriguing. And considering how close Willa and her mom seemed to be I found it a little out of character for her mom to be so terrible in the end. I mean, who says they could “actually kill” their own daughter?
The Nutshell: While it was kind of fun to read about Willa’s thieving that’s pretty much where my interest ends. Willa was too wishy-washy and neither her nor her mom really seemed to stay in character. As always, everyone’s tastes vary but this isn’t one I’ll be recommending.
And from there, the story went downhill for me. This story was supposed to be a loose Robin Hood retelling. So what’s Willa’s solution to the bullying problems? Steal money from the rich kids (mainly the girls she hangs out with/her so called ‘friends’) and buy designer clothes to give to the bullied girls.
The idea alone is headdesk-worthy. People kill themselves because of problems like this; because of bullying. Every year, people die because of these problems, and it isn’t something superficially. What Willa’s doing is basically slinging a few cute designer outfits at the problem. But it isn’t going to help. Just because their target looks prettier doesn’t mean they’re no longer a target of bullying. Does Willa honestly thing what she’s doing is going to solve anything? It makes me wonder if the author still remembers what it was like in high school. Because this? It isn’t it.
And what’s up with Aidan? He’s so blegh and meh. He’s snobbish, arrogant to the point in which you just feel like throwing something at him, practically radiates the fact that he’s Mr. Player, and yet I feel as if he as as much charm as a dead fish: none. None. At. All.
Like I said earlier, the first half of Pretty Crooked was cute, fun, and light. The last half… not so much. I wouldn’t agree with the Robin Hood comparisons. If any, this story seems to mock Robin Hood rather than retell it.
But I think I’ll give Pretty Sly (Pretty Crooked #2) a try. It isn’t really the writing that has problems, but rather the plot. Ludwig’s writing is fun and quirky, and I’m willing to give her another shot.