Ok, I’ve been wanting to post this review for quite a while now but I didn’t know how to start… Since this proves to be such a problem, I thought – why not just jump right into it?
Jesse, Vicks, and Mel are three very different characters, but still end up on a road trip together. That’s basically the whole plot. Am I serious, you may ask? Well, there are few things more to it, but they are only secondary to my review.
Honestly, up until around the middle of the story I didn’t like this book very much, and that is for various reasons. First, when you hear the title “How To Be Bad”, don’t you expect something a little, well, let’s say, at least adventurous, crazy, exciting..? And on the back of the book it says the girls want to “discover their true badass selves” on their road trip. Well, in my opinion this is not really what happens… The so-called ‘road trip’ is quite boring in the beginning, and it takes a good while until this changes.
Also, I didn’t really like the girls’ personalities very much in the beginning.
Jesse is a Christian and it is emphasized on almost every page how she wants to do everything the right way and she also strongly voices her opinion when it comes to things like premarital sex. She continuously judges people – especially her best friend Vicks – according to these standards and has severe prejudices against others. This is probably what bothered me the most. What about benevolence? What about helping and caring for others? The fact that Jesse ‘steals’ her mother’s car, doesn’t tell her that she leaves for a few days and doesn’t even call her back when she awaits her call just shortly after she found out her mother has cancer makes this much, much worse, I think. In my opinion, Jesse is nothing but an intolerable mean girl – a hypocrite of the worst kind.
Furthermore, Jesse and Vicks persuade the third girl, Mel, who is quite shy and suffers under the ‘new girl in town’-syndrom, to break into a museum so that they can have a look at a stuffed alligator, which is also not really the right thing to do, right? What bothered me the most about Jesse though was how mean she was towards Mel. Even if she didn’t always say the things out loud she did think very little of her – and that is just because she (or rather her family) is rich.
She continuously expects Mel to pay for everything – from gas to food to the hotel and theme park tickets – that is actually why she let Mel join their road trip in the first place. This is also why Mel continuously feels alone and as if she is only good for her money, which gets pretty sad and depressing after a while – especially because she is right – Jesse only let her join them on the road trip because of her money. I did feel sorry for Mel quite often. Well, looking back I guess you could read the book’s title in that way, too: Jesse is a bad person, and the book is your instruction to become equally bad. Or something like that. Maybe I got this whole title thing mixed up, I don’t know.
After around the middle of the book, some of these things started to change – at least a little bit, which is why I began to enjoy the book more. The problem is just that you don’t really know where the sudden change is coming from. Other than that, I feel like I also need to express what I did like about the book – it wasn’t just all bad! 🙂
I liked that each chapter is written from someone else’s point of view: either from Jesse’s, Vicks’ or Mel’s. That way, you could see that not all of the other’s prejudices are true and how the characters (at least Mel and Vicks) started to develop. I mean, in the end I could see a change in Jesse, too, but I just didn’t really get where it was coming from.
I also liked where their road trip ended later. After a kind of boring start, their road trip actually started to feel like one, which made up for a lot of the boring beginning. All in all I can say that this is not what I expected and probably not one of my favourite books ever – but I kind of liked it in the end. So, a kind of okay-ish 3 stars from me – from which most probably go to the road trip, per se. Isn’t this just the perfect summer reading trope? I just didn’t like all of the characters that were taking part in it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against characters with negative features – IF there is a development visible AND I can see where the change is coming from.
Have you read How to Be Bad? Did you like it more than me? Tell me in the comments below!:)