Sunday 26 December 2010

Review: Secret Society Girl -- Diana Peterfreund

(I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this, and of the sequel Under The Rose, during an internet chat with Diana a few months ago and finally got round to reading it this weekend.)

Amy Haskel, editor-in-chief of the campus lit magazine at Eli university, is confidently expecting to be 'tapped' into Quill & Ink, the literary society there. She certainly doesn't think she'll find herself in Rose & Grave, the notorious - and hugely powerful - secret society. She's not rich, she's not famous, and she's definitely not male, which would previously have been the sticking point for R & G. But this year, the society members have decided to bring five women into the fold, which hasn't gone down too well with certain alumni... leaving Amy and her friends to fight against men far more powerful than they are, while she juggles a fellow tap, a friend-with-benefits, and her society big brother with a secret of his own. Oh, and as if that's not enough, the need for secrecy is messing up her friendship with suitemate Lydia.

This is fairly standard YA fare, which despite being set in Yale (Sorry, Eli - although author Diana Peterfreund freely admits that the obvious comparison is intended) isn't all that different from many high-school or college based books. What makes it a real pleasure to read, though, is snarky narration by Amy, who is frankly awesome, and an interesting cast of fellow taps, with a lot more character development and revelations in the second half of the book than I was prepared for by the first part of it. By the end, I was definitely getting hooked on the story and am really looking forward to the follow-up, Under The Rose, which I’m planning on reading soon. Bonus points for an awesome speech given at a climatic moment which was two and a half pages of serious girl power, and an interesting ending which means that while it would have worked well as a stand alone, there are a couple of plot strands which will make that sequel (and the other two books in the series) very interesting.

High recommendation to fans of Cecily Von Ziegesar, Anna Goodberson and Curtis Sittenfield.

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