Never Have I Ever

 
(i)

 

Suspenseful sequel mixes mean girls and a murder mystery.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Could lead to some spirited discussions about the media's impact on mean girl behavior -- and whether this book is promoting or condemning it. See our "What To Talk About" list for some ideas for getting started. Teens interested in more girl-centered mysteries should check out our list of recommended titles.

Positive messages

Full of pranks and mean girl behavior, but Emma is trying to solve her sister's murder and Sutton, who narrates as a ghost, feels increasing remorse about her bad girl behavior ("I'd insisted, over and over, that no one dare tell me what I'd done, like I was the most important person in the room.")

Positive role models

Emma is a relatable, nice girl who is trying to do the right thing. She is appreciative of many things Sutton took for granted, like her family.

Violence

This series centers on solving Sutton's murder. The girls in her clique also play other pranks and Emma fears her life is in danger through the book (including when a light almost shatters on her head and when she is trapped -- and choked -- in a cave).

Sex

In a scene recounted from the first book, Emma turns down Sutton's boyfriend for sex when she finds him naked in her room. A romance builds between Emma and Ethan, and they sneak into a neighbor's pool together and later share a steamy kiss. There is a mention of teens in skimpy bikinis and another character admits going to an appointment to find out about breast implants.

Language

A small sprinkling of swear words including "pissed," "bitch" and the s-word.

Consumerism

Lots of label dropping: iPhone, BlackBerry, Tory Burch, New Balance, Sprite Zero, POM, Lincoln SUV, Girl Talk, Black Swan, Jersey Shore, Pottery Barn, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The girls drink Bloody Marys at lunch and later play a drinking game. One character smokes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book is the second in a mystery series about a murdered teen -- and her long-lost twin, who is trying to solve the crime. There is much to make parents cringe, including dangerous pranks, underage drinking, sneaking out, shoplifting, label-dropping and more. Even so, protagonist Emma is trying to solve her sister's murder and Sutton, who narrates as a ghost, feels increasing remorse about her bad girl behavior.

What's the story?

NEVER HAVE I EVER picks up where The Lying Game left off: Emma is still pretending to be her murdered identical twin, Sutton, and living her rich girl life as she tries to find out who did it. When she is able to clear Sutton's closest friends, her attention turns to the Twitter Twins, social media-obsessed sisters anxious to be get in with the popular prank-pulling pack -- and who Emma learns have a serious score to settle with Sutton. But will Emma be able to solve the crime before she becomes the next victim?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Readers fond of series like Gossip Girl will find lots of other clique lit staples to fantasize about -- such as an awesome makeup artist coming over to do the girl's makeup before a school dance, or Emma's romantic secret swim with Ethan in a vacationing neighbor's pool. Some of this is truly suspenseful, such as when Emma gets trapped in a cave while searching for one of the Twitter Twins, who may have been hurt in a fall -- and then suddenly hears a "maniacal giggle." Not much gets resolved here, but Sutton, who narrates as a ghost, feels increasing remorse about her bad girl behavior. It may be formulaic, but the novel is fast paced, and fans of these kinds of books will probably look forward to Book 3.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about mean girl behavior. What do you think of the way that Sutton's friends act? Are the pranks and put downs authentic or exaggerated?

  • The author notes in her acknowledgments, "I dearly hope none of you emulate the club's sinister and often dangerous pranks." Is this warning necessary? Should parents be concerned that kids will emulate what they see in media -- or do they need to give them more credit for separating real life from fantasy?

Book details

Author:Sara Shepard
Genre:Mystery
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 2, 2011

This review of Never Have I Ever was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bysofball playa foreva April 30, 2013
 

Best book from a series!

I think this book is very good! Just watch the kids who are reading it! I could say so much about this book and Sara Sheppard because these books are the best and so is Sara Sheppard! Keep on writing!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bycrazy~chic'98 January 3, 2012
 

Thumbs up!

Was really good and i can't wait for the next book, Two truths and a lie! I loved it and would recommended anyone 11 and up to read it! It was suspenseful and really a great read!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Adult Written byfhdua October 3, 2011
 

good book

on for 11
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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