Spotlight on Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Hardcover 308 pages
Expected Publication: March 13th, 2012, Katherine Tegen Books
Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.
The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her: evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.
But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
PRETTY CROOKED is a fun ride. A mixture of Robin Hood, Mean Girls, Wendy Toliver’s LIFTED and a splash of Simone Elkeles’s LEAVING PARADISE series, Elisa Ludwig’s tale of the have and have-not’s keeps the action coming and the mysteries at every corner.
While I admit the prologue was a little hard for me to get through, once I got into the heart of the story I was completely hooked. The voice is fresh and witty, making it an easy page-turner, and the main character Willa was extremely likable. Without giving spoilers, I’ll say straight away that one major concern I had reading proved fruitless—in no way does this story glorify crime or justify it. Crimes are dealt with in a very real and believable way. But so is the hard and EXTREMELY relevant topic of cyber bullying. As if kids don’t have enough problems with popularity, grades, hormones, acne, and whatnot, now they have the World Wide Web filled with anonymous blogs and Facebook, allowing gossip to be spread in the blink of an eye. Can I just say how glad I am this wasn’t a concern when I was growing up!?! Kudos to Elisa Ludwig for tackling this tough issue—that’s probably an unfortunate reality for far too many young adult readers—and presenting it with good advice (okay that the main character ignores but still LOL) and real thought.  
The focus and main conflict of Willa’s story is navigating new friendships and the slippery social order, but there is also romance and hot boys simmering around the edges. PRETTY CROOKED is the first in what I hear will be a trilogy, and I believe Ludwig has set herself up for some hot future guy action (I can’t decide who I’m rooting more for, Aiden or Tre!). Book Two promises to be filled with swoony moments along with realistic portrayals of all the characters living with the consequences of their actions. The cliffhanger leaves us with a several mysteries left to solve, and I have no doubt even more will pop up.
For fans of LIFTED, LEAVING PARADISE, and Contemporary YA that deal with real issues with wit and heart, PRETTY CROOKED will not disappoint.

Miniview with author Elisa Ludwig
You are at the library, hanging in the YA section (naturally) and stumble across an awesome book you've never heard of about Jinn. When you crack the cover, a hot Jinn pops out and says he will grant you 3 literary wishes.

     - Wish One: A Fictional character of your choosing can step from the pages and come to life. Who do you pick? Hot boy toy, or kick a$$ heroine? Why?

Well, neither exactly. I think I'd like to hang out with Tom Henderson, the titular dork of King Dork. He's just the kind of guy I would've wanted to be friends with/and possibly crush on in high school. He's smart, funny, quirky and we could geek out about music.

     - Wish Two: You can step inside any YA book on the shelf and live the life of any character. What book do you choose, what character, and why?

So fun. I think I might choose one of the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter—and I would live the life of Cammie Morgan. The whole spy academy thing is kind of irresistible.

     - Wish Three: He leads you to the paranormal section and says he will give you with the powers of a character for twenty-four hours. What do you go for (angel,   witch, vampire, mermaid, fairy, shapeshifter, etc) and from what book? Why?

Hmm. This one is tough since I don't read paranormal much, so I don't have any specific books to namecheck here. In general, I think the shapeshifter thing sounds pretty good. It's sort of like using your last wish for more wishes because you could do all of the above. I'd love to try flying. Or just being fire. If nothing else, it would be good practice for different POVs in writing!


  1. Great review! (And interview!) I don't think I could decide between Tre or Aiden either. They are both likable in different ways. I'm glad this is a trilogy - I think I could do with a couple more books of fun. ;)

  2. Hey girl! I think it is pointing toward Aiden strongly, but Tre was just such a good friend to her, and is hot . . . but so is Aiden. Decisions, decisions =)