Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: Mature YA (Sex is discussed a lot, but not shown; Drinking and drug use)
Last Call at Happies! Tonight, 8 P.M. Senior Class Only! Please with the Shhhh….
This is it. Graduation. And Vic Navarro is throwing the most epic party Rancho Soldado has ever seen. She’s going to pull off the most memorable good-bye ever for her best friends, give Happies—the kitschy restaurant that is her desert town’s claim to fame—a proper send-off into bankruptcy, and oh yes, hook up with her delicious crush, Jake Zavala-Kim. She only needs to keep the whole thing a secret so that her archnemesis, Miss Ann Thrope, Rancho Soldado’s nightmare Town Councilwoman and high school Economics teacher, doesn’t get Vic tossed in jail.
With the music thumping, alcohol flowing, bodies mashing, and Thrope nowhere to be seen, Vic’s party is a raging success. That is, until Happies fans start arriving in droves to say good-bye, and storm the deserted theme park behind the restaurant. Suddenly what was a small graduation bash is more like Coachella on steroids with a side of RASmatazz pie. The night is so not going as planned. And maybe that’s the best plan of all.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t think I was going to like this book. In fact, when I received it in the mail and re-read the blurb, I thought to myself, “Why did I accept this book for review? What was I thinking? This is not my kind of book at all!” You see, I’m not usually a fan of the type of book that glorifies teenage partying and general bad behavior, and when I re-read the blurb, I was pretty sure that was what I was in for. I was wrong … sort of. Okay, fine, in some ways I was kind of right, but somehow Rachel Cohn made me like this book anyway.
What Fed My Addiction:
- Vic. The main reason Kill All Happies ended up appealing to me is that the MC, even under relatively crazy circumstances, is surprisingly smart and level-headed. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she’s a teenager, and she makes some very “teenage logic” type decisions (now that I have teenagers of my own I know this logic oh-so-well). The fact that she’s throwing an entire party basically because she’s hoping to have sex with her best friend’s hot brother is not my favorite of motivations—but that’s not all there is to Vic. She cares about things—her friends, her community, what Happies restaurant symbolizes to them all. And she’s actually trying to be pretty intelligent about the party itself—she doesn’t judge anyone for acting crazy, but she repeatedly takes care of things to make sure nothing goes too far (well, she tries, at least). She needs this party as an outlet because her life as she knows it is ending (not because of happies, but because she and her friends are leaving), and she’s not 100% sure where it’s headed next. At the same time, we get a clear picture that Vic is more than capable—she’s just a bit lost. This makes her relatable (at least to me).
- Happies restaurant. The Happies restaurant element is actually what drew me in in the first place (that’s why I first accepted the book for review—something about the concept drew me in). I loved the idea of this old diner (and even older amusement park) with a weird cult following. The parts of the book that involved the Happies fans were all sorts of amusing, and I could vividly imagine the old, broken down theme park. (Wouldn’t it be incredibly fun to visit something like that?)
- The romance. I was fairly certain that the romance in this book was going to be a low-point for me, considering the fact that we knew from the start that Vic was just out for a booty call with her best friend’s older brother. He seems relatively sleazy, at that—not sure what he had going for him besides the fact that he’s hot. But Cohn turns things around on us and keeps us guessing, and I ended up loving how everything ended in the romance department.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Underdeveloped secondary characters. Honestly, this book is about Vic, and everyone else is sort of a backdrop. Even Vic’s best friends feel a teensy bit like cardboard cutouts because we just don’t get to know them enough to truly care about them or their relationship with Vic. Because this book focuses a lot on the crazy events of the party night and on Vic’s experiences, there just isn’t time to do a lot of intense character development with the secondary characters. I still enjoyed many of them, but I would have liked a bit more. Then there was the “villain” of the book, Thrope, who pretty much came off as a cartoon character. We never get any true insight into why the heck Thrope is so insane, so we kind of just have to accept her at face value.
- Not reading this for realism. There were lots of points where I was rolling my eyes at the craziness, especially with interactions at the beginning and end of the book between Vic and Thrope. This book is a fun read, not a particularly grounded or realistic one.
- And, yep, it does glorify teen bad behavior at some points. Not gonna lie, I didn’t love everything that went on at Vic’s party, but I recognize that I’m not the target audience, and I felt like it was balanced a lot by Vic herself, who did seem to have a good head on her shoulders (except for her crush). My biggest issue is that there was casual drug use (even by Vic), which always really bugs me. I have personal issues with teen drug use being portrayed as “no big deal” based on events that happened to people close to me in my past, so I’m never a fan of this in books.
I think “fun read” sums this book up pretty darn nicely. You certainly can’t go into this book expecting to take it too seriously—but if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised by how much Vic will grow on you, and you’ll kind of be rooting for that Happies party to go down in history for its awesomeness (and for its level of catastrophic failure). I give this book 3.5/5 Stars (which will easily get rounded to 4 on Goodreads).
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Rachel Cohn is the bestselling, award-winning author of many books. She lives in Los Angeles with two very cool cats named McNulty and Bunk.
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