Review of Very Bad People by Kit Frick
Very Bad People by Kit Frick follows Calliope Bolan as she aims to bond with the memory of her deceased mother by attending the same boarding school her mother did as a teenager. She gets exactly that when she is tapped for membership to a secret society who act as school life activists, which her mother had also been a member of. While following in her mother’s footsteps, Calliope stumbles upon society secrets that make her believe it might be linked to her mother’s death.
Very Bad People gets off to a bit of a slow start. The first couple of chapters have a healthy dose of exposition, and some repetitiveness of detail; although this does come in handy later with a handful of school glossary terms and a couple of identifying details for some of the more minor characters. Although the story takes a little time to build itself to the real start of true mystery and excitement, which happens when she is officially sworn into the secret society, it does eventually hit its stride in following Calliope in her amateur investigating. It’s a compelling journey and it reminds me of how exciting it can be to follow along and figure things out as we go with our favorite characters. It encourages the reader to think ahead, and maybe jump to some conclusions or think of all the ways the story could unfold. Calliope is not immune to that mentality any better than we are, which is so relatable I couldn’t even blame her when I disagreed with her ongoing theories.
I don’t want to give too much away about the mystery of the story, but there’s more to the book than just that. Calliope finds herself questioning how far she is willing to go for her beliefs, and questioning the orders given to her by her fellow society members. When is doing what’s right more important than following the rules? How far can you push the limits of the rules and laws before you’ve gone too far? These greater scope questions aren’t the only version of the issue Calliope faces either; she also has to ask herself who she’s willing to follow when the society faces opposing ideas of how to handle their missions.
Something else I liked to see in this book was the casual LGBTQ+ and diversity inclusion. There is one character, although a minor character, is mentioned to use they/them pronouns. Calliope’s aunt is also openly bisexual, and even briefly discusses discovering her sexuality. There are also mentions of a school a cappella group for boys and nonbinary students. The student body is diverse as well, multiple heritages alluded to in character description. This is noteworthy in story too, as the secret society pushes for diversity and inclusion with their staged anonymous protests. While these may just be details, seeing these casual mentions is a welcome reflection of how the world is changing around us.
Kit Frick weaves a fun story in Very Bad People about figuring out who you are, all while keeping the reader pulled into a mystery that continually keeps you guessing.
Very Bad People by Kit Frick is available now at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.