As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!
When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?
The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?
Meet the Smitten Kittens. Sounds kind of sexy, huh? Alluring in that mysterious way. If you knew what they were doing, though, sexy wouldn’t even come into it. In fact, the Smitten Kittens are all about busting cheating boyfriends from doing the sexy with people other than their other half. The male adolescent population of Washington High is more than a little naughty, it seems.
The squad – which double as a cheer squad by day – have high tech spy equipment and have a well organized system of spying on the boys at their school. They take requests from girlfriends who suspect their boyfriends are cheating, and investigate till the allegations are either cleared, or confirmed. Unfortunately, they’ve never had the opportunity to clear anyone’s name because every single suspect has been found guilty. Every single one.
Tessa is the only girl left on the squad who actually has a boyfriend. Over time, the others all dumped theirs because they were caught cheating. Then, Tessa’s boyfriend’s name shows up on the list, and with a one hundred percent confirmed cheating rate so far, it isn’t looking good for Tessa and Aiden. But maybe he’s innocent, he seems like a nice guy, after all. Could he be the first boyfriend to ever be cleared of all charges?
Initially, I couldn’t decide exactly how I felt about this book, or for whom exactly the target audience might be. Tessa comes across as a good, wholesome character. She doesn’t curse, and always corrects those around her that do. She uses expressions like strawberry smoothie, for example, instead of actual curse words. She’s an excellent friend to her fellow squad members, a great student, and an all-round shiny, happy girl. At first I thought this was going to be a clean and wholesome novel for younger readers, but then I discovered that Tessa sleeps with her boyfriend and sneaks around in the middle of the night, lying to her parents and Aiden about what she’s doing, and spies on people till dawn. And Tessa is the only one that doesn’t curse; it seems the book is littered with swear words and over active adolescent hormonal activity. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, either, I’m just saying that Tessa’s character confused me.
I found myself trying to decode the messages that came attached to Tessa’s character. By creating a character like Tessa, is Suzanne Young is attempting to send a message that teen sex is okay? After all, Tessa is a really nice girl that is seemingly good in every other way. Does the fact that she’s sexually active make her a bad role model for teen girls? I really couldn’t decide. I’m inclined to say no, but I felt uncomfortable making that judgement alone. What I did like about Tessa is that, especially at the beginning, she is committed to Aiden and although she is well aware of her sexual allure and uses that on Aiden a lot, she doesn’t really flounce it around in front of everyone else. She isn’t promiscuous and she obviously has a lot of self-respect, which I think is important when setting up a potential role model for teens today.
The whole book left me feeling a little uneasy, which I suppose is actually a good thing because I thought about it for hours after I finished it, trying to figure out whether I liked it, how to categorize it, what the underlying messages were. While there was obviously a formula that went into the plot, it seemed there was a lack of formula that went into creating the characters, setting, tone, etc. I found this quite refreshing and I think others will too.
I think this book would be a great jumping point for book clubs and discussion circles that wanted to talk and debate the issue of teen sex and teen relationships.
Publication Date: Febraury 2010
Teaser Quote: Cassandra was less than thrilled to see the glossy eight by tens of Marcus and Red Heels. It nearly broke my heart, especially when I considered her recently departed virginity. All of it left me feeling, well, bummed.