Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

Comparing this book to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl is stretching it, to say the least. Beware That Girl just isn't in their league. It's more like their annoying younger sister who tries desperately to imitate them, bless her, but ultimately fails miserably.

Teresa Toten's story is being marketed as a YA novel. It's main protagonists are in high school, after all, and the author draws you in to their rich girl, teenage angst. But considering the YA genre boasts successful books with prose that challenges its audience and depicts compelling characters and complex narratives, I'm not entirely convinced that Beware That Girl has real staying power when faced with its competition. At least not in its current version. Perhaps another draft is in order.

 Toten's characters are more like caricatures. Olivia is the Cher Horowitz of Waverly School, minus the heart of gold and good intentions. She's dependent on prescription drugs for reasons we later discover are related to her absence from school the previous year. Kate was the more interesting character of the two, but she seemed to lose her personality in the presence of the Waverly elite and their upper class, vapid chatter. And don't even get me started on the cliché villain in the story.

To cut a long, gossip-worthy story short, some predictable bad shit happened, and then there was a weird ending. And throughout it all, I couldn't help but think what a lousy father Mr Sumner was. Olivia's dad was off travelling 90% of the time for work, seemingly forgetting that his daughter had suffered from mental health problems in the past and could undoubtedly benefit from a stable home life. Anka, the housekeeper, tried her best to watch over Olivia, but the girl was far too manipulative, and Anka too susceptible to her lies.

My favourite characters were Mrs Chen and Anka, the strong but minor female characters in the book. Anka was a caring motherly figure and Mrs Chen was a badass and loyal to a fault. If only Kate had stayed with the Chens, where she was safe in her small bed with the Spiderman covers.

Beware That Girl scores 3 stars.