Friday, 20 July 2012

Contemporary Summer: Road Trip Week! Review of How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski and E. Lockhart

How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski and E. Lockhart
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Released: April 21st 2009 (first released May 1st 2008)
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Vicks is the wild child whose boyfriend has gone suspiciously quiet since he left for college; Mel is the newcomer desperate to be liked; and Jesse will do anything to avoid a life-altering secret. Each one has her own reason for wanting to get the heck out of their nowheresville town, even just for the weekend. So they climb into Jesse's mom's "borrowed" station wagon and head south.

Hearts will be broken, friendships will be tested, and a ridiculously hot stranger could change the course of everything.
 (from Goodreads)

How to Be Bad was a fun read and really put me in the mood for a road trip despite all the things that went wrong for the characters in the book. I also really want to go to Disney World now! :P

How to Be Bad was told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of three girls – Jesse, Vicks and Mel. Each girl wanted to go on the road trip for a different reason, and while Mel (the newest member of the group) started off as little more than a stranger, they got to know each other during the ride and became friends by the end.

Jesse was probably my least favourite character, because she was just so judgemental at the beginning. She seemed to hate Mel instantly after finding out she was wearing a pair of expensive designer jeans and I felt sorry for Mel who hadn’t even done anything wrong. I understand Jesse couldn’t see Mel the way I could by reading her chapters, but seriously, give the girl a chance! I felt like Jesse was overly harsh to her at the start, and thought it was pretty awful that she was fine with using Mel just for her money. And she was too much of a goody two-shoes and it got on my nerves, especially since was acting like a big hypocrite by preaching to others while she herself had done a lot of things wrong too. I guess I just couldn’t relate to her and how strongly sure of everything she was. She did get better though, and tried to make-up for how she treated Mel. I thought it was really nice the way she tried to make things work out between Mel and Marco. She also learnt that she wasn’t always right about everything and became a bit more open-minded in the end. I liked Jesse a lot more in the second half of the book, especially after learning about her troubles at home, which were perhaps responsible for her previous obnoxious behaviour. I felt like she was trying to go through it all alone and that was making her all stressed and upset, and she really just needed her friends.

Vicks was probably the most fun character and was responsible for taking everyone to the strangest of places, including seeing a stuffed alligator called Old Joe, visiting the world’s smallest police station and picking up Marco and giving him a ride to his friend’s party (though it worked out for them, I still maintain that it’s an extremely bad idea to pick up strangers from the street, no matter how hot they are). She was going through some stuff herself with her boyfriend Brady, who she felt was become more and more distant towards her, and though she did some stupid things while she was drunk and upset, I liked that she could admit her mistakes and try to protect her friendships. She pretty much livened most things up and her detours are what made up the story. I liked how things worked out for her in the end (courtesy of Mel and Jesse, who helped her works things out) and it seems the road trip worked out for her after all.

Mel was the most insecure character, and always felt in the shadow of her sister. She had a bad romantic past (I’ll just say it involved her boyfriend and someone she thought was a friend) and had lost a lot of confidence. She pretty much invited herself to the road trip and I felt sad for her, because she saw the bond that Jesse and Vicks had and just wanted that kind of friendship for herself. She started off a bit of a walkover, but I think she was less of one by the end and maybe had started to feel a bit better about herself. She hit it off with Marco at the beginning but embarrassed herself at the party. However, thanks to Jesse’s help they managed to work things out. I felt like the romance was definitely a bit rushed (they had literally known each other for like, two days and already wanted to be steady couple), but the book was told from three perspectives, so there wasn’t really room to add much depth to the relationship. Plus, it seemed like only a sidestory anyway as the main plot focused on the friendship between the girls. Still, it was too insta-lovey for me.

The road-trip itself seemed to be one disaster after another. Just a few things that happened to the girls include driving through a hurricane, getting lost, fending off an alligator and various other events. They did have a lot of fun too though, and Old Joe seemed to be a big inspiration! There was also some yummy food and lots of music, so I guess that made up for some of it (plus they went to Disney World). And it did make me want to get into a car and drive off to somewhere.

My main problem with the story was that it lacked depth overall. I felt like the characters could have been more fleshed out and easier to connect to. We didn’t really get to know too much about them, and the plot seemed to be more about the trip than the characters themselves. However, I don’t think this was meant to be some deep, emotional book; it was mostly just for fun, so I can understand why it was written that way. I just wanted a little bit more description maybe, not only of the characters, but of the places they visited. I also felt the ending cut off in a weird place, I actually hadn’t realised the book had finished until I turned the page and realised there were no more chapters. I could have done with just a few more pages.

Overall, How to Be Bad was an entertaining read great for summer! If you’re looking for something quite light-hearted, then I’d recommend this book.
Don't forget to visit Cait's blog for a review of Two Way Street!


  1. I need to find a fun contemporary read, so I'll have to give this one a try sometime. Not sure how I feel about the lack of depth, though---I just put one contemp down for sort of the same reason (90 pages in and nothing really grabbed me about the plot or the characters)but this one and the whole road-trip concept sounds like fun!

  2. I think this sounds really good! I wonder how much of the problems you had with it were caused by so many authors?
    I get what you mean about lack of depth, I think sometimes it is sacrificed for fun and humour, but I do think you can have both! Jesse sounds a bit of a pain, but I do like it when you don't like a character at first and then they grow on you. I like the sound of Mel though it's a shame about her relationship! This definitely sounds like a great road trip read!

    Cait x

  3. The two day, lets-be-a-steady-couple-now romance DOES sound super rushed... I understand the having to balance things because of multiple narrators, but it's a shame that romance had to suffer for it. Vicks sounds like an AWESOME character, though. I think I'm loving her already :D

    I love that you say the road trip was 'one distaster after another' - who wants a boring old roadtrip that goes to plan? Psh :P Disappointing that there wasn't as much depth as you hoped, but this does sound like a fun read. Fab review!!


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