This clichéd, little book begins with cheerleading and ends with cheerleading. The middle of the book – more cheerleading. For those of us who don’t care about cheerleading one way or the other, it might be difficult, dare I say painful, to swallow the life and death stance on cheerleading portrayed in this book.
There are very few characters in the story and none of them are impressive or even likeable. It is written first-person, which makes it harder to read. Dakota is shallow, flighty, will literally do anything to be a cheerleader, and every ounce of happiness in her life is based on making it to the varsity squad her freshman year. Oddly enough, this school doesn’t seem to have a junior varsity anything, and the squad is a meager six girls. No wonder they’re willing to kill each other; they have to go above and beyond to make up what is more like half of a squad.
In her quest to beat out all the nasty, petty girls at school, she proves to be even more shallow than them all. For example, someone shreds her uniform and she has a very public melt-down that would make any parent ashamed. She’s not going to live it down anytime soon, but she couldn’t care less in comparison to her trashed uniform. Throughout the entire book she has the maturity of a five-year-old. She takes offense at each little infraction, thinks horrid thoughts about every other girl, throws a hissy when the guy she thinks is a dork, but she might like a little even though she deems him a loser, is spotted kissing some other girl. Thankfully, she’s incredibly superficial and the next day he becomes her boyfriend and she later professes her true love for him.
She’s not the only girl to give teenagers a bad rep. For being such a tiny book, there are numerous instances that made me cringe. The girls are vicious, nasty, have egos that rival Madonna, and take capricious to a new high. They cannot figure out whether they hate each other or they are besties. Within one paragraph, Dakota is going to tear her former best friends’ (there are two and you can safely pick either one in this scenario) hair out and then she is ready to “forgive” said girl for all the ways she wronged her. To clear things up, they all wrong each other over and over, until I had a headache from rolling my eyes.
Supposedly, there is a sociopath who is meant to drive the story and provide suspense. Warning: there is no suspense. Out of seventy chapters, maybe three are dedicated to that individual and they last thirty seconds. The author took the bad guy right out of the book. Then comes the great revelation. It was far from great, although it was a revelation, since any of these girls could have easily been the one slashing tires and killing kittens. That particular character has basically zero action, so it had to be tied up with a bow in a long paragraph at the end that explained why she was crazy. There are no hints and she is given only a cursory description, which I immediately forgot. If you’re looking for a book where you actually have to think and guess, move on.
After everything that happens, Dakota is still so immature that she thinks it is quite a shame that the evil cheerleader is evil, because she could have been great the following year. She tried to kill people, so it would make sense that her cheerleading abilities are inconsequential, but not according to Dakota. As wretched as these teens are, the adults are sorry excuses for parents and teachers. From the mother who spoils Dakota rotten to the coach who goes into graphic detail about kitten innards, they are a disappointment which explains a lot about these kids who are in desperate need of a conscience.
Overall, the writing is very basic and unengaging. It reads like something a teenager wrote and fits perfectly with Dakota’s bipolar thoughts. Don’t let the title fool you; this is not a horror story. This is baby Dean Koontz and lacks suspense completely. I was so disturbed by these teens that the “evil acts” took a back seat. This series came highly recommended, but the only redeeming moment I found was when Dakota ponders why her mother’s sandwiches taste better, just because she makes them. The fact is food made by others, especially a loved one, always tastes better. This was the one poignant moment.
- Genre and general reading age – It’s hardly suitable for teens. I’m thinking more along the line of tweens. Adults should definitely steer clear. As for genre, it’s supposed to be horror, but it falls into the category of underdeveloped stories for teens.
- Level of sexuality – Zero. If there had been any, I would have been very concerned. I was relieved that they were too busy being jealous and mean to even think about it.
- Is there graphic language? Nope. They think and act like children, which leaves the dirty words out.
- Did I laugh? No.
- Did I cry? Tears of frustration and then tears of joy when I finished.
- Is this part of a series? Sadly, yes. It is book one of Horror High.
- Level of character development – What character development? Not only did this book lack plot, suspense, and relatability, it lacked actual characters. Dakota is spoiled and thinks only of herself. That is how it starts and how it ends. Everyone else is a varying level of a clichéd, boring character who lacks a real personality.
I had looked forward to this book. It has great reviews and I was hoping for something to keep me on the edge of my seat. It does have the word horror in the series, after all, so how could it not. The book is tiny, but it took me days to finish. Every time I picked it up I couldn’t bear it and down it went. Finally, I forced myself to finish. The last seven or so chapters are dedicated to the so-called ending and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Then, as an afterthought, the author tosses in a little epilogue that makes the reader rethink what they just read. It was a weak attempt to gain interest and took ten seconds to read. Needless to say, it did not entice me to continue the series. On the other hand, more than a few people have rated it highly. I suspect they might be about twelve years old, don’t have children, don’t know the actual definition of sociopath, are void of real empathy, or more than one of the above. I am sorry to give this ⭐️ star. I’d like to think that the author put forth some effort, but it was dry as beef jerky. One redeeming quality that many amazing indie books lack and I’m happy to point out here – I didn’t come across any typos.