Short Take: Murderous blows and fabulous clothes, that’s what this girl is made of.
(*Note: I received an advance copy of this book for review.*)
Y’all, it’s been a while, and I don’t have any good reasons or witty (if lame) excuses for being away for so long. But the air outside has a crisp fall bite, and alllllll the channels are showing scary movies, and we’re coming up on my favorite holiday: Unlimited Reese’s Cups Night (aka, Halloween), so let’s shake off the funk, consume copious amounts of sugar, and talk about a new book from a deliciously wicked author, shall we?
I previously reviewed Layne Fargo’s Temper, and duckies, do I need to tell you that I was positively purple with excitement to read her new one? Does the pope poo in the woods?? So I cleared up all my other commitments, put on extra socks for the inevitable blowing-off that was about to happen, and curled up with They Never Learn.
And…. meh. Yeah, I wasn’t feeling it. I mean, we meet Scarlett, the glamorous if slightly sociopathic professor of literature at small-town Gorman College as she’s mid-murder of a football star/occasional rapist. And YES, it’s fun and YES, someone needs to start taking these guys out more often, because the conversation needs to change drastically. Who else is sick of hearing that sexual assault something victims should have avoided, not that perpetrators shouldn’t do? We have got to do better as a society.
Ahem. Sorry, a soapbox snuck under me for a second there. But my point stands.
Anyway, Scarlett is an avenging angel of sorts, taking out the scummy predators and making it look like a suicide or accident every time. But her latest victim’s “suicide” is drawing more attention than she’d like, and even though she’s not about to stop until the rapists do, she can’t resist flirting with another brilliant professor who’s starting to put the pieces together. Or maybe she just likes the thrill of being almost-caught?
And that’s all well and good, but we also meet Carly, a stereotypical introvert, socially awkward and friendless, who’s paired with the stereotypically popular and gorgeous roommate with a stereotypical party-girl lifestyle, Allison. We see Carly getting pulled into uncomfortable situations by Allison, and it’s beyond predictable that something will Go Terribly Wrong, and that Carly & Scarlett’s paths will cross in some way, and the expected will happen from there.
So there I am, mentally forcing myself to slog through and wondering how the author who wrote the unexpected gem that was Temper would do something so trite, and this review is going to be painful to write and then
OH MY STARS AND GARTERS. When our two main characters collide it’s one of those things that I want to say a whole freakin lot about but I don’t want even a sniff of a spoiler because it’s that good.
From there, the tension builds, as Scarlett has one last name on her list to finish off before the authorities catch on and Carly gets pulled into ever more dark and dangerous places with Allison. It’s a fun bit of cat and mouse, but the rest of the book felt a little flat after the aforementioned [spoiler]. I honestly don’t know how it could have been any better though, the [spoiler] is one of those things that would be a high point in any book of any genre, and anything that follows it would of course suffer by comparison.
So what it comes down to is that They Never Learn is a great book, but one part of it is just TOO good, and that’s a really strange complaint, isn’t it? Oh well, just read it, you’ll be glad you did.
The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS (and a big ol mug of hard cider. Happy Fall, Y’all!)