Review: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

Title: Pretty Dead Girls
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 300 Pages
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018

Summary: In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed. The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she's next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she's never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her. There's something he isn't telling her. But there's something she's not telling him, either. Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the awesome crew over at Entangled: Teen, and I'm so glad that I did. I was a huge fan of the Pretty Little Liars series when I was growing up, so needless to say, I was super excited to start another murder mystery centered around privileged girls in a supposedly safe town.

As the summary explains, Penelope seems to have the perfect life. Everything is peaceful, she's the president of her school's community service club, and she's respected (and even a little bit feared) by everyone. But then when members of the club start showing up dead with their throats cut, one by one, things get dire for this little seaside town. In the midst of trying to find out who the killer is, Penelope and her friends also have to guard their own lives, so they don't become the next victim in the news.

I really enjoyed reading this book! It was filled with so many ups and downs that had me gripping the book and turning the pages super quickly. I even finished this book in just two days (and it would've been shorter than that if I hadn't been busy!) because I kept wanting to know what would happen next. The chapters were long enough to string the story along and give good detail but also short enough that you could breeze through it and immediately wanted to keep reading. There were also a few chapters interwoven throughout the whole thing that was from the perspective of the killer, even if you didn't know exactly who they were, and they went into further detail about the murders that took place.

(Minor spoilers in this paragraph so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want things spoiled for you!) Speaking of the killer, this book was just a gold mine of plot twists that took you on such a delightful ride. I started off the book having no idea who the killer would be, and then I thought it was maybe someone else, and for a good chunk of the book I thought it was said person. And then Murphy herself points all of the clues to a different person, and some stuff went down that made me stop suspecting the original person I had once thought. And by the time you get to the end of the book, the killer ends up being someone that you would never expect, and you're just completely thrown, which was a great way to end the story -- I hate predictable endings, and this book contains anything but. 

As someone who is entirely too squeamish when it comes to books, movies, AND real life, I was a bit worried at first that I wouldn't enjoy this book because it would be too gruesome. That definitely wasn't the case, which ended up being a relief -- there are light references here and there to the murders and the goriness, but it isn't excessive to the point that this book could be shelved under the slasher category. So if you weren't sure about this book because of a weak stomach or a hypersensitive imagination, have no fear -- the resident chicken is here to report that I handled this book with no issues.

Now for the actual characters. I didn't really like Penny as a character, even if that was Murphy's intent. I felt at times that her voice was a little bit too juvenile -- as someone who was a high school student not that long ago, I found it a bit unrealistic that my friends and I would talk that way, or relentlessly bully other people the way that it was described in the book. I am completely aware that bullying happens in high schools, but in my experience (and the experience of everyone around me, both who went to my school and my friends/family across the country who didn't), that stereotypical, mean-girl bullying pack thing just doesn't happen. It definitely fit in for the sake of the story, but a small part of my brain had a tough time buying it throughout the entire book. But that's just my own opinion on the subject!

As for the rest of the book, I really enjoyed Cass's character, even when he was a bit mysterious and shady. He was super sweet and smart and funny at times, and his troubled past made the story all the more complicated, which added a level of depth that I hadn't realized it needed until I had finished the entire story. Between Cass's past and all of the tragedies and secrets that arrive in this quiet little beach town, Monica Murphy does a great job of messing up the scene and making it difficult to find a clear-cut answer to who had committed that string of horrible crimes.

Overall, I really enjoyed Pretty Dead Girls -- it brought me back to my Pretty Little Liars days, which I hadn't known that I missed as badly as I did! This book is an emotional roller coaster that is equal parts cute and terrifying, and you'll find yourself rooting for people that you never expected to. And when the truth comes to'll be shocked.

Hats off to Monica Murphy -- I absolutely loved this book, and I'd definitely be open to reading more thrillers from her in the future!

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