Hi Everyone, happy Monday! Monday means reviews and today’s review is of This May End Badly by Samantha Markum. This debut novel, published by Wednesday Books, releases April 12, 2022. Still a *little* while away, but I’m excited about it nonetheless, so I hope you enjoy my review.
This story was super adorable. I loved the whole concept of this book with all of the tropes it had and all the mischief the characters get into. It was a quicker read, but was still thorough with all of the topic and events instead of brushing past anything. I thought the pacing of the book was really good and consistent throughout. It was enjoyable from beginning to end and had me entertained the whole time.
To summarize the story: Two rival boarding schools where a group of students from each school are engaged in an epic prank war that leads to a fake dating scheme. I’d say there’s a bit of enemies to lovers mixed into the fake dating making it even better. The rival schools - who have been rivals for centuries might I add - are set to merge the following year and many of the students have strong opinions about it, especially the main character Doe. You could always tell just how much she cared about her school and wanted to protect it even if her intentions were a bit misguided at times. There was never a doubt of passion or love for her school. I was a bit sceptical of Doe at first as she’s got quite the overdramatic personality and cares potentially a little too much about keeping the two schools separate; but there was a well-explained backstory that does an excellent job at showing where Doe is coming from and is a big part of the reason she acts the way she does. Her parents had divorced when she was younger and emotions from that event led to her switching schools around grade 9. Having the backstory for Doe near the beginning of the story really helped me understand her better and gave me a better outlook on her throughout the rest of the book. There were parts of the backstory that were kept hidden in the beginning and then brought up at various points in the book. I thought that was kind of cool. You knew almost instantly what had brought her to Weston, but it was obvious there was more to the story. Instead of never figuring the last part out it was revealed throughout the book and each reveal made more and more sense. I think that aspect of the book was also wrapped up quite nicely between Doe and her parents.
The one thing I honestly kind of liked is that I couldn’t figure out who the real love interest was right away. It took me about half of the book to figure it out and I liked that it wasn’t overly predictable right away. I definitely had suspicions that the love interest was going to be Doe’s true enemy but noticing the little moments from Wells that showed he truly cared about Doe made me like the two of them together. I loved seeing the slow relationship development of the main characters and watching a fake relationship turn into possible real feelings. Especially when Doe is so dead set on hating the Winfield boys for the majority of the book.
I can’t forget to mention all of the pranks and shenanigans that both school’s students got up to throughout the book. Everyone got incredibly clever and never feared retaliation which lead to some impressive one-upping with pranks. Right from the start you could tell that there was a group of students from both schools who were truly dedicated to these shenanigans and it lead to so many hilarious moments. I loved all the thought that went into the pranks and that no one was scared to retaliate.
On the more serious side of the book, here’s a content warning for one of the topics in the book since there is mention of sexual assault. This is one of the topics brought up throughout the book as one fo the teachers Weston has, Mr Tully, is a sexual predator and takes advantage of girls in the school as well as alumni of the school. I admired the effort both schools put in, and thoroughly worked together, to take down Mr Tully and get him fired from his job at Winfield. The one part I didn’t love about the story is that all the students, both current and alumni, who had been targets for this teacher had all kept silent. When all of the parents finally found out about what had been going on they were extremely shocked that no one had said anything and I can definitely agree with their feelings. It was sad to think that none if the girls had even thought to come forward to a parent or adult figure outside of school. I appreciated that all of the parents instantly stood up for the girls and confronted to school board about this teacher.
Overall, I did quite enjoy this book and would give it a 4/5 stars. It was an excellent read and I can't wait to read it again. Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for the ARC! I can’t wait until it comes out in April. I would highly recommend adding it on goodreads and/or preordering it.