by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
Samantha Markum's This May End Badly (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
Thanks to partners NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the digital ARC of Samantha Markum’s This May End Badly in exchange for an honest review. The book is out on April 12!
I picked up Samantha Markum’s This May End Badly when I was in somewhat of a reading slump . . . which Markum promptly ended. I could not put down this book!
The novel begins with Doe and her best friends (Gemma, Jade, Sumi, and Shawn) in the midst of pranking their neighboring boarding school as part of a tradition that goes back generations. The girls of The Weston School and the boys of Winfield Academy have had a rivalry that permeates every event throughout the year, and Doe and her friends (but particularly Doe!) take that rivalry to new heights, driven by the extra-special loathing that Doe and Winfield boy Three have for each other. As seniors, they all realize this is their last chance to win the prank war, so the creativity is rampant.
That rivalry is the center of the book, and it creeps out into every corner of Doe’s life. It causes her to set up a fake dating scenario with Three’s cousin Wells, to keep secrets from her friends and family, to lose focus on her academics despite her continued need to earn her spot at Weston (she entered the school under less-than-ideal circumstances).
Doe is brilliant and fun and funny and also deeply, deeply flawed. I loved the varied relationships here: Doe’s close-knit friendships and her great relationships with her parents and even the growing friendship she has with Wells. I also appreciated watching as Doe lost her grip on the real purpose of the pranks and as she became so laser focused that she lost sight of where it all had started.
There are serious threads running through the fun of the Weston-Winfield battles, threads that pull tighter when a merger between the schools is announced and Doe has to start considering what she really loves about Weston and herself . . . and what needs to change.
Markum navigates the unfurling plot and Doe’s character development beautifully, offering complexity and nuance as Doe reflects on who she is and who she wants to be.
Trigger warning: sexual assault
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