ARC Review: Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

review         book

Book Covertitle: Dead Little Mean Girl
author: Eva Darrows
pages: 304
format: Paperback ARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 1/5 (from hated to loved) or 2/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of over-the-top high school comedies like Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes.
Quinn Littleton was a mean girl—a skinny blonde social terrorist in stilettos. She was everything Emma MacLaren hated. Until she died.

A proud geek girl, Emma loves her quiet life on the outskirts, playing video games and staying off the radar. When her nightmare of a new stepsister moves into the bedroom next door, her world is turned upside down. Quinn is a queen bee with a nasty streak who destroys anyone who gets in her way. Teachers, football players, her fellow cheerleaders—no one is safe.

Emma wants nothing more than to get this girl out of her life, but when Quinn dies suddenly, Emma realizes there was more to her stepsister than anyone ever realized.

A meaningful and humorous exploration of teen stereotypes and grief, Dead Little Mean Girl examines the labels we put on people and what lies beyond if we're only willing to look closer.

in depth

  • I was pretty excited about any book with a comp like Heathers, one of my favorite dark comedies.  While DLMG definitely started off with the over-the-top brutal comedy that made the 80s cult classic so classic, its overly one-dimensional characters and ambivalent tone leave it straddling the fence between serious contemporary and over-the-top dramedy, excelling at neither.  

  • Emma was difficult to like as a main character. She's incredibly judgmental but also naive.  Quinn puts a boob shot on a teacher's phone?  But, *bats eyelashes*, that's endangering his job! (Never mind his freedom, except apparently in this book there's a totally thorough investigation that somehow "clears" him without talking to any of his students.)  Quinn has some sexy times with the guy Emma likes?  Oh, but it wasn't his fault!  Quinn manipulated him!  He was a hapless recipient of oral!  Emma admits that Quinn could be "persuasive" as though the dude had no say in it.  I just couldn't love her or even hate her enough to care. 

  • And Quinn is just the stereotype down to the dyed blonde hair.  She's a cheerleader who's popular and slutty (cause it's slutty when she does stuff, just not anyone else, of course) and so dumb that she got IBM confused with BMI.  Which also seems unlikely if she's such a health nut.  And then of course Emma's mom assumes she must be "not well" because a "healthy, well-adjusted" person wouldn't do stuff like this.  Because there can't just be jerks, right?  (Also Quinn definitely fits the profile for psychopathic traits, but that's a rant for another day.)  

  • With the adults, there were just too many parts that read like a bad Lifetime movie.  Emma and Quinn's mom's fall in love and then decide to move in together--with their teenage daughters--before the teens have met each other OR their mom's girlfriend?  And Emma and her mom make fun of Quinn behind her back even though Emma's mom is supposed to be, you know, an adult. And Quinn's mom constantly praises Emma and downplays Quinn in front of Quinn.  The fathers are both absentee adulterers.  I had a serious case of wanting to punch everyone in the face.  

  • Apparently a lot of people loved it, so maybe it's just me.  Honestly, I might have felt differently if I were a teen--because it reads like some of my bad high school revenge fiction.  You know, misunderstood nerdy girl is tortured by the blonde bimbo popular girl who finally gets her comeuppance?  It's like Mean Girls but not as good and it teases you at the beginning with a murder/death mystery only to smack you in the face with an underwhelming conclusion.  

  • The author tries to come around in the end and subvert the tropes, making it about looking past the mean girl's surface, but at that point it feels like a superficial retcon.  The book's all one thing and then it's suddenly, "Oh, uh, but her dad was a jerk so [insert all sorts of inner beauty]." There's too much of a tone shift, not enough groundwork laid in the earlier part of the book to feel believable.  And Emma is the empathic shining star who sheds light on the misunderstood mean girl! I got to the point where I was just nitpicking stuff (what high schoolers throw a party that starts at 7pm?!) because I was so annoyed.    

  • If you want something quick and mindless, it's not awful.  The writing is relatively solid.  There's a plot.  (And dammit if I didn't keep reading because I wanted to find out how Quinn died!)  But this book just tried to be too many things, and missed the mark.   

        in a sentence

        Dead Little Mean Girl is a dark comedy that relies heavily on high school tropes and bites off a bit more than it can chew.  


        will i read this author again?  Not sure. Maybe her adult stuff works better. 
        will i continue the series?  N/A 

        Note: I received this copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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