Friday, March 3, 2017

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

  • THE BOOK
    • Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
    • Published April 21, 2015
    • Originally published in Great Britain as Murder Most Unladylike
    • Book 1 in the Wells & Wong series
      • In Great Britain it is Book 1 in the Murder Most Unladylike series
    • First book by author. Other Wells & Wong book titles include:
      • Poison is Not Polite (or Arsenic for Tea in GB)
      • First Class Murder
      • Jolly Foul Play
      • Mistletoe & Murder

  • THE PREMISE
    • The first book in a new mystery series aimed at young teens, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency in their posh boarding school in 1934 England.
    • A teacher is found dead by Hazel but when she runs off to get help from Daisy the body disappears. The two girls, who are 13 years old, decide to keep it quiet and solve the mystery.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • Oh, how I wanted to adore this book! But I just couldn't because I loathed the character of Daisy. 
    • Hazel is ethnically Chinese, originally from Hong Kong, and is attending boarding school in England because her dad is an Anglophile who also went to school in England. Daisy is the aristocratic, popular girl in class who befriends Hazel. She is, of course, blue-eyed and blonde with a perfect figure. Hazel feels fat and unattractive near her.
    • It is hinted that Daisy has a dark secret which Hazel knows, and this is what somehow bonds the girls. Daisy is such an arrogant person and you wait for this shocking secret to come out because then maybe it might explain her actions in some way.
      • I am going to SPOIL the secret because it irritates me too much to play coy:
        • Daisy is secretly brilliant but hides it so as not to come off as a bluestocking.
        • GASP.
        • Oh please, she's already got blue eyes, perfect blonde hair and I think she even has a title (The Honorable Daisy Wells. Her deep, dark secret is she's TOO SMART.
          • Hazel is also brilliant and advised by Daisy to hide it just like she does. This is what we want girls reading about, right? How you should hide your intelligence because other people won't like you if you flaunt it.
            • Yeah, yeah, it takes place in the 1930s but I faced this same shit in the 1970s and 1980s and I AM OVER IT!
    • Hazel often compares herself negatively to perfect Daisy. This is another thing that needs to go by the wayside: blonde is not greater than dark hair and we certainly don't need more "thinner is better" characters in this modern age.
    • Anyway, Hazel narrates the story and she is the subservient Dr. Watson to Daisy's Sherlock Holmes. Naturally Daisy is always in charge. She treats Hazel like crap most of the time. Hazel takes it without complaint.
    • The murder mystery is interesting enough but since almost all of the suspects are the adults we don't really get to know them very well until the rush of the ending. 
      • It makes sense because Hazel is telling the story and she has very small interactions with the teachers overall. 
      • Classroom demeanor doesn't necessarily tell you anything about the teachers' private lives.
    • For those who want to know, there are some minor sexual references.
      • A closet is casually pointed out as a place which some of the girls use as a make-out place (it's an all-girls school) and some of their fellow students have "pashes" (aka crushes) on each other.
      • Two of the teachers share a two-bedroom apartment --- nothing scandalous there --- but they have a SPARE ROOM. This is not a bad thing but it seems odd that everyone in school knows about it in 1930s England, no?
    • There are 5 books in the series so far but only the first two have been published in the United States. I will not go further even though my library has the second book. I imagine Daisy gets nicer as the series moves on? I will need to live without knowing for sure.
    • Recommended for middle schoolers and above, especially those who like mysteries. I know there must be many people who can overlook my issues with the story and characters and really enjoy the book.
    • ★ ★

1 comment:

  1. Another British book with a different title for America (we are so dumb). Thanks for teaching me a new word, "bluestocking," which you very much are. You warn about the "minor sexual references," but not about the swear word (in the review)? When you say, "minor sexual references," are you talking about minors or something of lesser significance? Next time, I want to read a review that reflects your true feelings...

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