Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse (review copy) - SIXTEEN-YEAR OLD TWINS IN CANDY-STORE CRIME SPREE Twins, Paisley and Beau Argent are in the headlines again. Last time, they were the 'wonder twins', when as six-year-olds they were found alive in woods after three days missing following their mother's death -three days spent looking for their dad. Now at sixteen, life's not so wonderful. Out-cast and exploited by their money-grabbing grandmother they're still clueless about their dad's whereabouts. Until they discover an old letter from him. That's when they decide to hit the road - and make headlines again. Holding up fast-food joints in Las Vegas might seem extreme but if they can get on the news, and tell their dad they need him, they might get the dream reunion they never thought could happen. From Amazon UK
When I picked up Pretty Bad Things, I was expecting something completely different to what I got. The blurb on the book is completely different to the description above, it barely skims the surface. Because they were going off looking for their Dad, I thought it might have been a road trip story. It's not. I got past that quite quickly, deciding to just read the book for what it is. However, unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy it.
This is not to say it's a bad story. It's actually pretty good. It's pretty clear that Skuse can write; Pretty Bad Things has an intriguing plot that keeps you turning the pages. It's addictive, you want - need - to know what happens with Paisley and Beau. Theirs action, there's danger, and there's more than one adrenaline rush inside it's pages waiting for readers. It's really quite exciting!
So why didn't I like it? Because it's not my kind of story. I'm not really that interested in crime. Though, saying that, this is not a dark, gritty crime novel for teens, it's light crime, made amusing because of the crimes they commit. But I'm not really into crime, in any form. Generally, I don't like it, and unfortunately, Pretty Bad Things didn't change my mind about this. As I said, the blurb on the back of the book is different to the description above, but it does say "Twins in a candy-store crime spree", so maybe that, along with the gun on the cover and the title should have made me realise exactly what type of novel I was getting, but I believed I was getting something more along the lines of an issue novel, what with looking for their Dad who hasn't been around. I was wrong.
But that's not the only reason I didn't like it. I couldn't stand Paisley. She was reckless and wild, and just not my kind of character. She was so immature at times and I just wanted to shake her. Regular readers may know that I'm not a massive fan of swearing in books, but I can accept it. But Paisley swear like a trooper, and it was just excessive. It's clear from how Beau talks, for example, that the swearing is all Paisley, part of her character, and not Skuse using it for the sake of it. But it grates on me. I can understand her wanting to escape the clutches of her money-obsessed grandmother, and wanting to find her Dad, but the choices she makes and actions she takes are just so ridiculously reckless and seem idiotic to me. I just couldn't warm to her. Beau is a different story, but Paisley takes half the book.
Pretty Bad Things wasn't my cup of tea, but I enjoyed Skuse's writing enough to pick up her other novels, and I'm looking forward to them!
Thank you to Chicken House for the review copy.
Published: 1st March 2010
Publisher: Chicken House
Buy on Amazon US
C.J. Skuse's Author Page