Suzanne Young was kind enough to send me an early copy of The Naughty List and let me say: I was not disappointed!
The Naughty List follows a group of junior-year cheerleaders — dubbed the Society of Smitten Kittens (SOS) — who go undercover to bust the cheating mates of their classmates. This underground operation has Tessa as their leader, who herself has been in a solid, unwavering relationship with Aiden for two years. Their goal as the SOS is not to ruin relationships but instead to help the person being cheated on get out sooner, rather than later. They have a code of ethics, including upholding themselves as model citizens at all times; Tessa is, for example, adamant about not swearing and makes up her own ways to vent frustration (this is really, really funny) and she is always working on correcting others when they do.
While Tessa and Aiden have the ideal relationship — one which we as readers see as healthy — she hasn’t been totally honest with him. In fact, she’s managed to keep the SOS a secret for their entire relationship.
When Christian and his sister Chloe move to town after their parents split up, things begin to change a bit. Christian is a merciless flirt with Tessa, who doesn’t like the attention. And Chloe is rude, nasty, and mean to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Aiden, with whom she is paired with in their chemistry class. Will Tessa have the SOS called on her or will someone be calling on her behalf to investigate Aiden?
Suzanne Young’s book is the first in a series, and I think this is the first time in a long time I can say I’d go out and read the next ones without doubt. I loved Tessa’s attitude, humor, and her relationship with Aiden. I thought it was spot-on appropriate for her age and that teens would definitely relate to her.
Moreover, the twists and turns this book took surprised me. I thought there were a lot of things that would happen (if you don’t like spoilers, skip this): I thought Tessa’s sickness was going to be an unexpected pregnancy and I thought that her relationship with Christian was going somewhere else entirely. There is a mega twist with that plot that I really liked because it was not what I thought.
And of course, there is a lesson learned here, but it’s not a moral lesson. Instead, it’s a moment of realizing that not all people ARE cheaters and that some things are, in fact, accidents or mistakes of judgement or perception. It’s also nice to see not only respectable cheerleaders in a book, but cheerleaders who are smart and who are really trying to be rolemodels for their classmates.
If I were to criticize the book, I think what stands out to me is that Tessa’s quirk of using other terms for swearing may have been a bit over done. But perhaps this was intentional, to give us a good idea of who Tessa is (a bit over dramatic at times). I didn’t quite get enough of what made Aiden so attractive or wonderful, since all I learned of him was through Tessa. The beauty of there being more than one book in this series, though, is that maybe we’ll know more about him soon. Oh, and Tessa’s parents sounded interesting — they’re musicians — so I hope there’s more of them to come, too. Perhaps what really got me, though, was how the heck Tessa kept this a secret for two years from Aiden. I got she was sly, but it seems like so much could happen in two years to break the secret. I wanted more back story to that or I wanted their relationship to not have been so solid and strong, to make that aspect (a big one, I might add) more believable.
This is a title I know has a lot of readalikes, but I’m drawing a blank right now. I think this might work with Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott titles, and though I haven’t her books yet, I think the SOS aspect will appeal to fans of Ally Carter.
The Naughty List comes out February 4, 2010. But if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be able to score my ARC before that. Oh, did I mention my ARC is signed, too?