Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair - the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she's a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell.
This reads like a teen movie in the best way. It was sarcastic and funny and heartfelt, with stupid and embarrassing moments intermingled with truly touching ones. It told of Anika as she navigates high school as the third popular girl, completely under the thumb of the most popular girl in school and all around bitch, Becky. She was the typical mean girl ruling the school even though no one actually likes her, with her followers too scared to do anything about all the horrible things she does.
Anika actually wants to be a good person, but is initially scared of what would happen to her reputation; she cares too much about the opinions of people that ultimately don't matter - you know, the teenage condition! As she grows in confidence, she learns about the falseness of social positions and what it means to actually know someone, not just their reputation. Despite her sometimes-annoying inner voice, she was very easy to like; self-deprecating, full of sarcasm but vulnerable.
Amongst the teenage trivial nonsense, there was also serious issues discussed, the most serious being the implications and consequences of domestic abuse. One of the boys Anika likes is a quiet geeky lad who turns out to be adorable romantic but has a horrible home life. Throughout the book there are odd glimpses into the future, where something terrible is about to happen and while I had several guesses, the truth was just awful. It was in many ways the final straw in Anika's life of self-doubt and pretense, for which I was incredibly proud of her for coming to terms with. The whole story was just beautiful, the way it transformed from a typical teen rom-com to a journey of self-discovery and heartbreak. Well worth a read.
Published 2nd September 2014 by HarperTeen. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.