Book Review: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

GetEvenBree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

I’m yet to  be disappointed by any of Gretchen McNeil’s novels.  I really should read her novels as soon as I get my hands on them, but for some reason they always get put on the backburner.  I blame the fact that I have two bookshelves in two different rooms, and the ‘M’ books are in the other room.  Anyway, I’ve had a copy of this since May 2014 and I’m so bummed I didn’t read it before now.

I’m a sucker for a good private school story, because it really does create an isolated world for which all of the crazy drama can occur.  Get Even did NOT disappoint in this category.  I really love how McNeil creates so many individual characters within this story.  Not only do the four main characters stand out individually from one another and have their own unique voices, but even the secondary and supporting characters are so vividly created that the novel just flies by and it almost felt like I was watching a much more devious episode of The O.C. (am I showing my age here? The O.C. was AWESOME.)

I’m torn between really liking what the don’t get mad girls do in the story and thinking that it is still a form of bullying.  Essentially the main four are absolutely 100% against bullying and only choose targets that have somehow done something to deserve their punishment.  But again, I struggle with the fact that they are bullying the bullies to some extent, which really kind of makes the cycle repeat.  However, McNeil is such a strong author, I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t intentional.  I still found all of the members of DGM pretty relatable and I think that each character has a little bit of everyone in them.  There is always the rebel, the shy one, the overachiever, and the dramatic one.  It isn’t as black and white, of course, but there is a little bit of each girl in a lot of people I know and went to high school with.  So again, the characterization was spot on.

WHY didn’t we get to see who the killer was at the end?! See, I can’t even say SPOILER ALERT, because it isn’t a spoiler!  It is a cliff hanger, and a major one at that.  I am going to be waiting impatiently for Get Dirty, and while we wait, you should check this book out too!


Amazon| Flyleaf Books | Barnes & Noble

4 Bards


Review Repost: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

I’ve had this novel since it was released in late 2011, but for some reason it kept getting bumped down in my To Be Read pile! Now I really regret not reading this novel sooner, because I really enjoyed it!

As most story workshops go (at least in my creative writing courses), we always discuss the strengths of a narrative first. I’m not even sure where to start, because there are so many strengths in McNeil’s debut novel. So I guess I’ll just list them in the order I have them written down in my notes: Characterization, Subject Matter, Love Story, Plot.

So, Characterization. I have to say that I really respected Bridget as a character for being strong willed and for not readily accepting her abilities. Since religion has a large part in this story, we learn that not only does her ability have to do with the entities within Heaven and Hell, which proves to Bridget that God, in fact, does exist. She had previously renounced God after her father’s murder. So her slow acceptance of her fate coincides with her acceptance of God and religion.

I want a gay best friend like Hector. He was extremely well developed for a secondary character that isn’t privy to Bridget’s secrets. I just really loved his and Bridget’s relationship, even though it was strained through part of the story. Oh, Matt Quinn. He is the resident sexy boy who has the hots for our main character. Matt managed to surprise me throughout the story with his loyalty to Bridget, which I can owe to McNeil for making me dislike him because Bridget did. Their relationship developed organically (more on this later).

Subject Matter: In my opinion, the subject of demonic possession really hasn’t been overused in YA lit, and the use of Catholicism in Possess is extremely realistic and very well done. In a time where the Catholic church is criticized almost constantly for some of its amoral actions with choir boys and acolytes, or even its stance on gay marriage, it is really great to see the Catholic Church, a Catholic heroine, and the Vatican as heroes. I have to say that it really surprised me.

Simple statement: THE LOVE STORY DID NOT OVERPOWER THE PARANORMAL STORY ELEMENTS. Hallelujah. Thank you, McNeil, for not allowing the budding friendship/relationship between Bridget and Matt to come to the forefront when the major dramatic question was about the possessions. THANK YOU.

The final strength I want to mention is the Plot development. The pacing of Possess was great, and there wasn’t a spot where I felt like I could skip some chapters and still be able to finish the story. There were a few places that were somewhat obvious to me (with the plot twists) because I saw it coming, but it still didn’t take away my enjoyment of reading this novel.

Weaknesses: Okay….the only thing that really bothered me was the amount of current pop culture references spread throughout the novel. I just feel that these references (Ke$ha, Jersey Shore, and Mean Girls) can really serve to date the text. This means that some future generations that might want to pick up this book won’t really know what those references are.

I really enjoyed Possess, and cannot wait until the release of McNeil’s second novel, Ten.

4.5 Bards!


Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten 2014 Releases I meant to read but didn’t get to

1. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

2. Panic by Lauren Oliver

3. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raash

5. Talon by Julie Kagawa

6. Hexed by Michelle Krys

7. #scandal by Sarah Ockler

8. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

9. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

10. Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

What are some books that you missed out on in 2014?  It was a busy year! Glad I was able to read thebooks I did!

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands on!

1. Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole
Book 3 of the Arcana Chronicles

2. Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
Book 2 of Rebel Belle

3. The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
Book 2 of Dorothy Must Die

4. Unleashed by Sophie Jordan
Book 2 of Uninvited

5. The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings
Book 2 in The Murder Complex

6. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
Book 3 of The Shades of London

7. A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
Book 3 of The Madman’s Daughter

8. Rogue by Julie Kagawa
Book 2 of Talon

9. Lady Celie by Melina Marchetta
Book 3.5 of the Lumatere Chronicles

10. Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil
Book 2 of Don’t Get Mad


What sequels are you waiting on?!

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is 

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

1. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
An old staple, I tend to reaad this every year at the beach.

2. Take Me On by Katie McGarry
I tend to get in a serious mood to read romance when I’m sunbathing.

3. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Same reason as the one above!

4. Brazen by Katherine Longshore
I’ve just been waiting for this one to come out, and I think saving it for my beach bag might make me even more excited.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with a Rainbow Rowell book, no matter where you are when you read it.

6. Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
This just seems like the penultimate summer read.

7. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I’m a sucker for books about sibling relationships.

8. Talon by Julie Kagawa
Oh you know, I have to have some fantasy for good measure!

9. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Another book that I’ve been looking forward to like crazy, so we will see if I am able to leave it packed for the beach!

10. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
School thriller? Just what I need to keep me awake and entertained in the warm sun.


What are some of your MUST READS for the Beach?

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday


Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Follow the secretive exploits of four high school juniors – Kitty, Olivia, Margot and Bree – at an exclusive Catholic prep school.

To all outward appearances, the girls barely know each other. At best, they don’t move in the same social circles; at worst, they’re overtly hostile.

Margot Mejia – academically ranked number two in her class, Margot is a focused overachiever bound for the Ivy League.

Kitty Li – captain of the California state and national champion varsity girls’ volleyball team, she’s been recruited by a dozen colleges and has dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Olivia Hayes – popular star of the drama program, she’s been voted “most eligible bachelorette” two years running in the high school yearbook and has an almost lethal combination of beauty and charm.

Bree Deringer – outcast, misfit and the kind of girl you don’t want to meet in a dark alley, the stop sign red-haired punk is a constant thorn in the side of teachers and school administrators alike.

Different goals, different friends, different lives, but the girls share a secret no one would ever guess. They are members of Don’t Get Mad, a society specializing in seeking revenge for fellow students who have been silently victimized by their peers. Each girl has her own reason for joining the group, her own set of demons to assuage by evening the score for someone else. And though school administration is desperate to find out who is behind the DGM “events”, the girls have managed to keep their secret well hidden.

That is until one of their targets – a douchebag senior who took advantage of a drunk underclassman during a house party, videotaped it on his phone, and posted it on YouTube – turns up dead, and DGM is implicated in the murder.

Now the girls don’t know who to trust, and as their tenuous alliance begins to crumble, the secrets they’ve hidden for so long might be their ultimate undoing

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