Book: Escape Theory (Keaton School #1) by Margaux Froley, Soho Teen, On Sale Now
Book Info: YA Contemporary, ARC via Edelweiss, Hardcover 272 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
There’s a crop of YA mystery type reads out lately, and the boarding school setting of Escape Theory makes for even more fun. In TV scribe Margaux Froley’s debut, high school junior Devon Mackintosh is a new peer counselor at a California boarding school who talks to students about everything from drugs to shoplifting to grieving. The school is reeling from the shocking suicide of Jason Hutchins (“Hutch”), the Keaton legacy student and all-around good guy. Devon feels the suicide is out of character and aims to set the record straight. Escape Theory is the first book in the Keaton School series, and is funny, mysterious and a little dangerous.
Hutch is “the boy that got away” from Devon. Ever since they shared a late night snack of Nutter Butter pancakes one night freshman year, they’ve had a bond. They ran in different circles, though they kept track of each other over the years. Something doesn’t sit right about his alleged suicide, and Devon in her peer counselor role is in a unique position to do some digging.
Escape Theory is set at Keaton School, a fancy-pants California boarding school. Devon is a scholarship student and feels like an outsider among the privileged student body. She does make friends though, and adds some new connections to her circle that she meets after Hutch’s death. The good life at Keaton includes parties, surfing and easy access to pharmaceuticals. As a peer counselor, she learns that there’s more than meets the eye to the troubled students of Keaton.
I liked Devon; she’s hard working, analytical, and tries to see the good in people. She has a good sense of humor and a strong moral compass. Devon makes some allies in her search for the truth, and I especially took to Cleo, the gossipy kleptomaniac who becomes a sleuthing sidekick in Devon’s Nancy Drew type investigation.
Even though the book begins with Hutch’s obit, we get the chance to meet him through flashbacks. He was one of my favorite characters and his personality lights up the page. It is interesting to get insight into his character through Devon’s eyes. He had more facets to his personality than she realized.
The book is eminently readable and engaging. The dialogue is snappy and the plot moves at a brisk pace. I liked the use of flashbacks to tell the story and the way that setting is used to full advantage. I was turning pages quickly towards the end to find out what happened to Hutch.
Escape Theory is entertaining and witty, and has pop culture references that made me smile. From the book blurbs I expected a Pretty Little Liars/Gossip Girl type book, and there are some similarities, though this book reads a little older to me. If you like boarding school settings, or YA contemporary mysteries like Also Known As or Heist Society, give Escape Theory a try.
To learn more behind the scenes info, check out my interview with author Margaux Froley.