Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor Review

Posted July 15, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 6 Comments

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
Series: Prep School Confidential #1
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: July 30, 2013
304 Pages
Source: Publisher/NetGalley

Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. 

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder. -(excerpt from Goodreads) 

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor 

My Thoughts:  To be honest with you guys, this is not normally the type of book that I’d pick up to read: it doesn’t have a cover that screams out to me and I don’t normally gravitate toward the boarding-school nor the mystery-type books like so many do. However, I started reading this one just to see what it was like and I actually ended up liking it quite a bit. I thought it was a really fun, easy read and now I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series. How’s that for reading outside of my norm?  

The first thing you need to know is this:
Anne Dowling has been kicked out of St. Bernadette’s in NYC. 
Why? She was kinda/sorta an accomplice to the fire that was started in the school’s auditorium. Oopsy? She didn’t actually start it, but she was the one that was caught. And doggone it, she couldn’t weasel her way out of trouble this time! So her lawyer-father gave her the option of being homeschooled there in NY’s Upper East Side (no thanks, she thinks) or going to the prestigious Wheatley School in Boston. 

First of all, Wheatley is a boarding school, which means she has to leave NY and her friends and her home and everything behind, and she isn’t too thrilled about this – but she’d rather do that than homeschooling. Second of all, it’s in Boston. BOSTON. To her New York mind, she just can’t believe her family would send her to such a place. 

Anyway, Anne arrives (the school year has already started, mind you) and finds that her roommate is Isabella Fernandez. Isabella is really nice and Anne likes her, but Anne notices that she doesn’t run with the popular crowd. Anne soon finds out that this is because Isabella is a scholarship student, not wealthy, and doesn’t really have that many friends. Also, she’s a little strange. But she’s really smart and fun and Anne likes her anyway. 

ALSO: Anne finds her quick adjustment to Wheatley a little odd. The other students almost gravitate to her like she’s a new toy. They want to sit near her at lunch. They all introduce themselves to her and offer to help her with things. She expected to be the new girl and have to make friends on her own. Anne finds out really quickly it’s because she’s basically coming in and taking over where Alexis Westbrook used to run the school. By simply standing up to the obnoxious and rude Alexis a few times and not backing down, Anne has earned this position as “queen” and in doing this, the majority of the student body has started “following” her. This dynamic is really strange to Anne – one that she didn’t really ask for – but Anne doesn’t have time to figure it all out and set anything straight because something crazy happens on campus…

The second thing you need to know is this:
Anne’s roommate Isabella is found murdered. 
Anne and some of the other girls from the hall sneak out one night to attend a party in the boys’ residence hall – Isabella decides she doesn’t want to go and ends up staying behind in the room she shares with Anne. That’s the last time Anne sees her alive. 

Right away, everyone is suspicious of someone else BUT! nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Isabella was a bit of a loner that kept to herself, so there aren’t that many people jumping up and demanding justice for her. But Anne feels like someone needs to find her killer because 1) HELLO, Isabella deserves that and 2) the killer could still be out there! 

The police seem to be dragging their feet in the investigation and the school almost seems uninterested in finding the killer, so what does Anne do? She decides she’ll figure out who killed Anne on her own! And here begins the bulk of the story – her investigation. 

Anne questions everyone. Anne gathers clues. Anne follows people, sneaks into rooms, searches things, finds things, etc.  She actually does a really great job at being a sleuth in this little amateur investigation, and she almost gets hurt/killed more than once. She must be a very brave girl because it never deters her from digging deeper and looking harder for Isabella’s killer. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
There is a light romance component to this book. 
It is a love triangle. 
The entire focus of the book is on Anne’s quest to find the killer. This is a mystery story. However, there are two boys that Anne finds herself thinking about and wanting, so in my opinion that qualifies as a love triangle – particularly since these two boys find themselves having feelings about Anne too. 

Brent Conway is a fellow student. Very popular and good-looking, Anne is attracted to him right away. She isn’t the only one – there are other girls at the school with their eyes on Brent. The thing with Brent is that Anne isn’t initially entirely sure if he is interested in her. By the time she’s figured out that he is, she’s met Isabella’s brother, Anthony Fernandez. Anthony is the bad-boy type, the blue-collar guy with a history of violence. There is immediate attraction there as well, and the two even see each other quite a bit as they pack up and go through Isabella’s things in the room she shared with Anne in the residence Hall. 

I personally liked both guys as characters a lot. As love interests? You know, this book never really gets romance-y enough for me to care which boy Anne chooses. But I think both boys carry over into the next installment because they’re both mentioned in the summary for the next book, so perhaps by then I’ll be able to make a choice. (I am bad bad bad for liking both love interests lately.)


Okay, so I’ve already said that Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor isn’t my normal type of read but that I really enjoyed it! It was a fun mystery that didn’t make me feel spooked and it wasn’t too thriller-y. I completely agree with the summary when it says the book is ‘fast-paced’ and ‘unputdownable.’ 

I kind of snickered a little to myself when I read that the summary (on Goodreads) compared this book to Gossip Girl. I absolutely love that show so reading a book with similarities ought to be really fun. But is this book like that show? Well, actually, it kind of is. Not too much so as to be annoying – but there are some Gossip Girl things – if you’re familiar with the show, the headbands make an appearance. There is sort of a power-struggle for Queen-Bee status. There is a certain table the popular crowd uses like the stairs on Gossip Girl. These things weren’t annoying at all, but they made me smile and kind of chuckle a bit. (The book is also compared to the show Twin Peaks but I haven’t seen that one.) 

Let’s talk about Anne Dowling for a second – this gal is from New York’s Upper East Side and attends the private St. Bernadette’s school. It isn’t very far into the book that she is removed from the school for bad behavior. Now, Anne is no stranger to bad behavior at school, but this time she couldn’t really get herself out of it and she finds herself packing bags and moving to Boston to attend a boarding school, and she hates that idea. Once she gets there, though, she does just fine. Anne becomes the “Queen” without hardly lifting a finger (not that she wants this title) and finds that she doesn’t have to work hard to find friends. She has a great roommate that is quite different than she is, but she still likes her a great deal. 

In the beginning of the book, Anne is stereotypically shallow and arrogant. She is witty but she’s also sarcastic. She’s kind of a snob. She keeps this attitude but sheds it quickly once she arrives at Wheatley, which was nice. I don’t think there was enough time spent with Anne-the-snob to say she was unlikable or a bad-girl, but she was certainly trending that way, so her character transformation into the person she became at Wheatley was certainly welcome. She became much nicer, much more down-to-earth, and more respectable. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that she was removed from her own environment in Manhattan and placed in an environment of a different kind of wealth: old money and politics. She was out of her league. At any rate, I liked Anne’s character development a great deal. 

Okay so when Isabella is found murdered in the woods near the school, of course Anne is freaked out. Then she realizes that she was the last person to see Isabella alive. Then she realizes that people seem to be moving on from the murder without doing anything about it. This just doesn’t sit well with Anne, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and find the killer. Along the way, both Isabella’s brother Anthony and fellow student Brent both offer their assistance. 

Two things about this: 
  1. Here is where the love triangle begins. 
  2. Anne dabbles in some things in her “investigation” that are really, really dangerous. 
First about the investigation. Anne does a great job of fact-finding and putting clues together – I mean, she does a way better job than I would’ve/could’ve done. There are so many twists and turns in the plot/investigation and I honestly had no idea who could have killed Isabella at any given time. Every time I thought I’d made my mind up, a new clue would surface and I’d realize NOPE! There are several times when I thought “Okay, Anne, time to let the police handle this.” but the entire point of Anne investigating is that the police weren’t doing a great job of it. So I had to sort of suspend my disbelief that a young person could handle an investigation like this and just enjoy the book. And suspend my fear for her safety as well. (This is why I don’t read many mysteries – they make me so nervous for the investigator/sleuth.) Ultimately, I found the mystery/sleuthing part of the story to be fun. 

Now about this love triangle. I mentioned earlier in this blog post that I felt like the romance portion of this story is small. It’s more like Anne has a crush on two boys who also have a crush on her. The thing is that it doesn’t seem like Anne makes any moves to try and figure out where her head and heart lie as far as Brent and Anthony are concerned – both are great guys, both could be good choices. I kept waiting on her to talk to them, decide something, talk to them, make a decision…she knew that stringing them both along would result in someone getting hurt. By the end of the book, though, something does happen…

I liked Prep School Confidential more than I thought I would. I liked it enough that I’ll definitely want to keep going with the series. I’m interested in who Anne chooses as a love interest and whether or not the romance portion of the story will be larger in the next book, and I’m interested in this next mystery (which is pretty much announced at the end of the first book). 

I recommend Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor for fans of YA Mysteries, YA Contemporaries, and boarding school settings. 


Prep School Confidential will appeal to fans of:

YA Mystery that reads like a Contemporary
Boarding School Setting

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
is currently available for purchase.


Is PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL on your to-read list? 
Do you tend to love boarding school settings or mysteries? 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


6 responses to “Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor Review

  1. I agree. Prep School Confidential is a fun read, though I didn't like the love triangle so much. It seemed a bit over the top to me, and I didn't like how Anne strung along the two of them.

    Kris @Imaginary Reads

    • Agree on the love triangle, but I'm admittedly interested in how things will play out in the next book. I didn't realize that both guys will make an appearance until i read the summary for book two! I don't often read books like this – some people really go for the boarding school/sleuth thing, but I don't typically seek these types of books out – but I really loved this one and thought it was just FUN.

  2. I haven't finished a this one because I got kinda of annoyed at Anne and some of her choices. And I am a huge love-triangle hater, so there you go.

    I hope I finish it, though. I love boarding schools.

  3. I actually like the mystery and boarding school aspect of this one so I think I need to check it out! It's not a book I've heard much about but I always love those fun, light reads that are kind of filler reads for when I need something kinda mindless!

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