Book Review: Pretty Sly by Elisa Ludwig

pretty sly

I won this book as an ARC on Goodreads, but it’s already out now… so I guess its no longer an ARC review. I wanted to read and review it before it came out, because this would have been my first ARC review, but I had other reviewing obligations. So here we are, a week or so after it’s been published.

“Sly Fox” acquired her nickname after a Robin-Hood-like stealing spree from her boisterously wealthy friends in a private prep academy. Willa Fox now finds herself faced with the tantalizing aspect of returning to school after her sentence, but she doesn’t get that far. Her mother, a modest artist, left Willa without any indication of why– just a note saying goodbye with some money. Sly Fox isn’t the type of girl to leave a mystery like this unsolved, so she and her (almost-sorta-kinda)boyfriend Aiden grab a car and head to the destination of their first clue. The trials and tribulations of solving a mystery and being a fugitive is a lot to handle, and Aiden and Willa jump through some narrow hoops to find her mom.

This is a sequel to Pretty Crooked, which, I’m assuming, is about the beginning of her criminal life with the stealing spree. Now, as a well-known criminal, Willa goes on a road trip adventure to save her mother. The book combines mystery, crime, and contemporary in a first person perspective.

Firstly, from the start, I couldn’t get over how far-fetched the whole things seemed. I reminded myself over and over that it is fiction. The logical problems of Willa’s adventure are almost too much to ignore, but I still enjoyed reading about the over-the-top dramatic trip, because who doesn’t love a good criminal mystery?

But, everything seemed extremely… corny. The style didn’t quite fit a first person teenage girl all the time. It jumped from somewhat normal narration to cliche teenage thoughts. Very cliche. The whole book– romance, characters, plot, dialogue– is one big cliche moment. I rolled my eyes at parts and had to physically put the book down and do something else.

I also feel like Ludwig promotes breaking the law in these books. Now, I know I’m going to sound like a cranky old lady who bans books for fun, but it seemed to me that Willa is praised and idolized for no reason.

I think she has a fine reason for breaking laws; she’s finding her mother (though she could have done it in a safer, less dramatic way). The people, especially fellow teenagers, cheer her on and help her throughout the novel, but they don’t know why she’s breaking the law. She’s casually on the run and stealing on the way, and everyone is excited! Sure, the whole Bonnie and Clyde thing is appealing, but for all the civilians know, she’s doing these illegal activities for all the wrong reasons.

I feel like I just bashed this book, so now I’ll tell you all the wonderful things I loved as I read.

The writing is fun and easy to follow; there’s never any confusion and the story flows very well. It isn’t a grueling read or a tough book, just entertaining.

The character chemistry is very realistic, despite the unrealistic setting. Aiden and Willa have ups and downs, and they’re still nervous and shy around each other. Willa tries to juggle being wanted, finding her mom, and liking Aiden all at the same time, and the reader feels just as overwhelmed as she does. During their fights, Willa is just an ordinary, irrational girl lashing out at Aiden because of all the other stuff on her plate. Despite the trust issues and added strain, the romantic tension in the book grows with every passing page. The reader roots for Willa’s achievement of her goals as well as her relationship.

There is a bit of a love triangle going on (I won’t spoil anything), but I think that’ll unravel in the third book.

And finally, the plot twist is unbelievable. If you think you’ve seen it all, just wait until the ending! It certainly matches all the melodramatics the rest of the novel carries.

Overall, Pretty Sly is entertaining and easy, but the plot is too unrealistic and cliche.

3 Stars

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