SIXTEEN SCANDALS, by Sophie Jordan, HMH Books for Young Readers, May 25, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
Sophie Jordan transports readers to regency England in her young adult novel, Sixteen Scandals.
The youngest of four daughters, Primrose Ainsworth is used to getting lost in the shuffle. But when her parents decide to delay her debut into English society, Prim hatches a plan to go rogue on the night of her 16th birthday.
Donning a mask, Prim escapes to the infamous Vauxhall Gardens for one wild night. When her cover is nearly blown, a mysterious stranger intercedes, and Prim finds an unexpected partner in mischief . . . and romance. But when it’s revealed her new ally isn’t who he says he is, her one night of fun may last past dawn. —Synopsis provided by HMH Books for Young Readers
Sixteen Scandals is sort of a young adult version of Bridgerton. There’s no sex, but the same irreverence runs throughout.
Prim’s exasperation with her family is understandable. They don’t even seem to care it’s her birthday. Having been neglected for years, it makes sense that she is used to getting away with things.
However, Prim’s not as mature as she thinks, and that becomes clear the moment she enters the gardens. In fact, there are times when Prim comes across as even younger than her 16 years. She’s an odd mix of sheltered and worldly that mostly works.
The plot of Sixteen Scandals seems to rely solely on Prim’s naïveté, with all the action stemming from the unwise decisions she makes. Even her relationship with her new ally raises a few alarms. For someone who is supposed to be smart, she makes some silly choices.
Now, you’d think that would make Sixteen Scandals a flop, but it doesn’t. Author Sophie Jordan’s pacing and prose push the story forward at an almost binge-worthy pace. The whole thing is a bit much, but it works. I wouldn’t hand it to a 12-year-old, but certainly 14 and up will enjoy it. This is a book I can see easily crossing over into the adult fiction market.
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