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Book Review: Easy Pray by Catherine Lo (2/5)

24 Oct

I’m continuing through the audiobooks I got through my library’s Summer Listening program, finally catching up from a few summers ago. While a few of these have been fun, I haven’t been won over with a lot of them and this is no exception. I wanted to like this book, but the ending just ruined what was probably a Three or Four Star read for me, bringing it down significantly.


Cover image via Amazon

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Summary from Amazon:

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number – and private photos – with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally, there’s Jenna, a good-girl-turned-rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice.

All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip, and will have listeners eagerly awaiting the final reveal.

I liked this story for the majority of the plot. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was how Ms. Bailey was portrayed. She’s around the same age as me and it was implied she’s angry and short with students because she’s single and lonely. I don’t know a single peer of mine who has that mindset and I thought it was an instance of the writer wanting to make adults seem very ‘othered’ and it bugged me. But other than that, it was a good plot. Drew and Mouse were good characters, I liked Jenna’s arc, there were a lot of good things going here. I’ll talk more about the ending later on but it was a big crash for me.

Lo has a great ability to write teenagers. I knew people like Drew and Jenna. Drew was the jock everyone hated and loved. Jenna is an explosive ball of teenage angst that I know I felt while I was that age. Mouse was believable, even if I couldn’t relate to him as much. I admired his drive and I understood his desperation. These main three were great even if I wasn’t a fan of Ms. Bailey.

Until the end, I would have said Jenna was my favorite character. I’m not sure if I still feel the same way. Ultimately, I think Mouse was my favorite through the book. He was complicated and his motivations stretched his moral character in a way I found believable and compelling. I’m not saying I like what he did or how he did it, but I could see why he was pushed in the ways he was.

Jenna resonated with me. We had a lot in common. I worked at a FoYo place, I wore a lot of black, I tried to act like I didn’t care what people though. So I felt like I understood her and her story in some ways. There were things I couldn’t relate to at all, like her photo leak, but I could empathize with how embarrassing that would be and how angry she would be. However, her decisions at the end really bothered me.


Catherine Lo Image via Twitter

I liked the structure of the book. Starting with the ‘day of reckoning’ and working backwards to how it happened and watching the puzzle pieces fall into place was awesome. I like a non-linear structure if done well and I thought this was great. Lo crafted a lot of suspense into the novel in a way that kept me reading and engaged, trying to see how we got to that day and see the motivations that get every character there as well.

OK, I’m going to talk about the end of the book so skip to the next paragraph to avoid spoilers. I thought the book wrapped up way too quickly and neatly for how messy of a situation they were in. There are so many ways Jenna could get caught in the end, so thinking she got away without a scratch is nearly impossible. I can understand her anger at Mouse to an extent, but I don’t think it warranted him suffering so much legal action and ruining his chances of MIT. She took things into her own hands when it seems like she had the evidence she needed to get them pined for their original crimes instead of taking them down in a mess she created. It was way too ‘perfect’ in the end for something that was far from it. I left the book frustrated and angry.

There were three narrators for this book: Nick Mondelli, Elizabeth Cottle, and Jack Meloche. I thought it was appropriate to have multiple narrators because of the multiple first person points of view in the book. It would have been odd to have a male voice reading Jenna’s sections. I thought all narrators did well and I liked that Drew and Mouse got their own voices. Cottle did well at conveying Jenna’s angst and anger. I’m not sure which person did Drew, but I really liked the smugness that was in his voice and how it came across. All three did really great.

Internet privacy is a tricky thing. If something exists digitally, it can be around forever and it’s hard to remove it. What happened to Jenna is horrible but so hard to prosecute. How can we protect ourselves and children in this digital age? I think Lo did a good job of exploring this topic, but I think Jenna’s answer came up short. The laws in these areas need to be reconsidered and revamped As a parent, I’ve considered that I’ll need to be more aware of these in a few years so I’m trying not to live under a rock. There’s only so much we can teach our children and have to trust they’ll believe us and listen to us and do the right thing. And even if they do, those around them might not. So let’s do what we can to create a system that helps protect children.

Writer’s Takeaway: It’s hard to end a book. I think this is an example of one that didn’t do it for me and fell flat. I wanted a lot more from this than I got in the end. There was some good intention, but it didn’t feel like everything was thought through. I wanted more. I wanted another chapter that either confirmed that things went the way it was implied or that things blew up. The ending was cut too short and seemed too clean for such a messy situation.

Overall, a disappointing end brought this one down. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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