Book Review: Busted
By: Gina Ciocca
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Young Adult - Contemporary, Mystery
I fully admit that part of what drew me to this novel was the cover. I absolutely love it. After pulling myself away from the cover, I was quickly sucked in by the description on Goodreads. I went into this expecting a fun, Hallmark fluffy sort of YA contemporary romance, but what I got had darker shades and delved into a mystery with a sinister air. I was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events and ended up loving this novel.
The main character, Marisa, gains a reputation for teen detective work when she finds her best friend's boyfriend in a compromising situation with another girl. While Marisa never intended for this to become anything more than helping out her bestie, Charlie, the word starts to circle and before she knows it a frenemy from her past, Kendall, is seeking her expertise. Kendall believes that her boyfriend, TJ, who recently transferred to Marisa's school is cheating on her. Marisa doesn't want to make a habit of investigating boyfriends, but she wants to give Kendall a chance to fix the mistakes they made in their friendship as kids, so she reluctantly agrees, never suspecting that this one choice will change her life forever.
On the surface, the novel is about Marisa investigating TJ to see what's going on with him and why Kendall doesn't feel confident in their relationship. I was annoyed by Kendall from the get-go. I would never advocate cheating, but I could totally understand why TJ would want to put some distance between himself and her. Kendall is selfish and vain. She truly doesn't seem to realize that others have thoughts and feelings. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt since Marisa did, but I just could never get to a point where I could summon up any amount of sympathy for her. I felt a slight twinge towards the end when she talks about her beginning days at Templeton as I did feel for her in those moments, but it was hard to remember that as she continued to make poor choices.
In addition to investigating TJ, Marisa also gets pulled into a cheating scandal at a neighboring school. When someone she cares about is labeled as a cheater with minimal proof, Marisa launches into detective mode once again to find out what's really happening in the halls of Templeton High. This strand of the story felt a bit darker than the boyfriend investigations. Yes, matters of the heart are important, but they pale in comparison to college admission and permanent records. Furthermore, I kept thinking about ethics and slander as I read this storyline.
In addition to the issues raised with the cheating scandal, there is also some discourse on dishonesty, bullying, and slut shaming in this novel. As the internet continues to dominate the lives of many teens (and adults for that matter) it has become a place that can be hostile from time to time. Marisa experiences this first hand when rumors about her are plastered on the web. This segment of the novel enraged me. Nobody deserves that sort of treatment regardless of what they have done (or not done). Jealousy is truly an evil green eyed beast and teenagers can often be cruel. I hope those who read this will learn something from Marisa's journey. We could all do with a reminder to be kinder.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there is romance in this one. I don't want to spoil it, but I was firmly shipping who Marisa and Charlotte both ended up with before the novel concluded. I also now have a new fondness for Christmas tree farms, hot chocolate, and barn lofts.
One Last Gripe: There were a few moments during the school cheating investigation that didn't work for me, but they were minor.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the relationships Marisa has with her best friend, Charlie, and her brother, Nick. It was nice to see people who supported one another, but weren't afraid to call each other out on their crap.
First Sentence: Scaling the back of a house spider-man style hadn't been part of my Saturday night plans.
Favorite Character: Marisa
Least Favorite Character: Kendall
Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.
But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…