Author: Gina Ciocca
Published: January 2018 (received via NetGalley)
Summary: Marisa, a senior in high school, accidentally starts a quasi-career of investigating cheating boyfriends, when she follows her best friend’s boyfriend one night and catches him in the act. Her first assignment is to follow her frenemy’s boyfriend to find out why he has been acting strange. In the process, Marisa finds herself falling for this guy.
Thoughts: Let me start by saying that this was my first foray into the NetGalley scene, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from an advanced read experience. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Busted had me drooling with the description, making me reminisce about my utter devotion to Veronica Mars. The book starts strong. The characters are developed, the relationships are believable, and the dialogue seems organic. These are some of my biggest gripes about YA literature that I think Busted had no problem mastering. Marisa is feisty and heartbroken. She is sort of bad-ass, but also sort of a dork that likes to stay home and craft. I think she is a great character. Her relationship with her best friend Charlie, and her brother Nick is done well and really adds to the story. I devoured the first half of this book.
Where things began to take a nosedive for me is in the second half of the book, when the major snooping and mystery unveiling takes place. This part of the book felt long. It also felt overly complicated. I couldn’t keep track of all of the various plots and subplots tying into the major mystery of this story. There were a few plot holes that I don’t think fully made sense or were explained properly. I just think this part of the book could use with a good edit. Tidy some things up, simplify the plot, and make sure that all events are set up properly to occur. Beyond the last half of the book, there were just a few details that weren’t really properly attended to. Marisa’s parents didn’t play much of a role in the book, which is fine, but at the end her mother was all of a sudden this present voice that I didn’t recognize. I had no idea who her mother was or the relationship she had with Marisa. It just seemed forced. There were also a few mentions of Marisa’s desire to go to this one university, and a few throw away comments about how expensive it was, but I mostly was just questioning what place that tiny little thread of story had in this book. I get that Marisa is a senior and seniors in high school are worried about college, but either write that to be an actual substantial part of the story or just leave it out–don’t just throw it in as a passing note. There were a few plot elements like this that just didn’t makes sense and seemed to muck up the story unnecessarily. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, this story promised Marisa to be this awesome private investigator who busts cheating boyfriends. The title and the summary of the book all point to this. That really wasn’t much of the case. There should have either been a few small little cases that she worked on or the volume on that part of the story should be turned down a bit when selling the book. People will think and want Veronica Mars, but will get someone who is mostly just doing a favor for a friend. At the very least, own that she accidentally gives herself this PI reputation, but she really doesn’t want it nor does she excel at it.
So to summarize, I actually really liked this book, particularly the first half. I read this book within 2 days and found myself curious to know how everything was going to come together. I wasn’t able to exactly predict how all of the pieces were going to land, which I always appreciate. I don’t like to outsmart the author in their story. I liked Ciocca’s writing, just needs a tighter plot. P.S. I totally dig the cover.