Behind the creepy castle like exterior of Birchtree Academy is the sound of gossip, backstabbing, and malice. When Zara’s dad takes on the new principal job at the elite boarding school, Zara knows she’ll be an outsider. She dreams of true love and marriage instead of possible frenemies and secrets. Definitely not Birtchtree material.
In the cusp of everything are the twins. Oliver and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Nixon are renowned for their different – yet equally effective – methods of torture. And both have their eyes set on goody, goody Zara. Oliver wants to date her and Lizzie wants to befriend her.
At first, Zara is caught in the Nixons spell, but it’s not long until cracks begin to show through their dazzling façade. An anonymous email account, which targets students with their own secrets, has focused its energy on Zara using weapons only the Nixons could have provided. But have they turned on her? Is there a hidden agenda behind Lizzie’s interest in Zara? It’ll take four months, three warnings, two released sex tapes, and one dead body for Zara to finally learn the truth. And the truth can either destroy the boy she’s fallen for – and his twin sister – or save them both.
*This review does contain spoilers; although, they aren’t really spoilers if you’ve seen Cruel Intentions. Regardless, check yourself before you wreck yourself.*
It’s kind of hard for me to review this book – I love the story line, I really do, but it’s too familiar. Cruel Intentions has been one of my favorite movies since the day I first saw it, and I knew after reading the synopsis for Laced in Malice that it would be a similar plot; I just didn’t realize how alike it would be. Sure, there are a few tweaks but overall, it just seemed to me that this book was Cruel Intentions in book format.
Here’s a brief rundown for you: Zara’s father accepts the position of principal at a prestigious boarding school, which she is will now be attending. Before she arrived on campus, she gave an interview to the school magazine that explained her stance on abstaining from sex until marriage, and she prided herself on the fact that she was still a virgin. Enter the Nixon twins: Lizzie and Oliver. Lizzie seems picture perfect on the outside, and immediately befriends Zara, while her twin brother, Oliver, continually tries to charm the pants of Zara – literally. It soon becomes clear the twins have ulterior motives for their actions with Zara, and everyone can see that…except her.
Now yes, there are a few differences between Laced in Malice and Cruel Intentions, but not many. When I started this book, I was hoping for a similar idea with a different direction, but (and this is just my opinion) what I got was a knockoff of a movie. I just wish the author had put more original concepts in this story, and then maybe I would have been able to enjoy it a little more. I just don’t like reading a book feeling like I’ve already seen the movie, when in fact; it’s a book that’s not even supposed to tie to a movie.
Here are a few examples of the similarities to support my opinion:
(The character names in Laced in Malice are Zara, Oliver, and Lizzie; in Cruel Intentions, they are Annette, Sebastian, and Kathryn)
1. The characters are essentially the same: Zara and Annette are both virgins who did an interview with a magazine pledging their vow of abstinence, and the importance of love and marriage before sex. Oliver and Sebastian are both womanizing, man whores that sleep with pretty much anyone, and then try to convince the virgin on campus that sex isn’t that big of a deal. Lizzie and Kathryn are both essentially the ringleaders; they have ridiculous control over their brothers, pretend to have a tremendous amount of faith in God, and on the outside they look like the model student.
2. Journals: Sebastian keeps a journal, Oliver keeps journals. Sebastian ends up giving his journal to Annette to read, hoping it will explain why he did what he did. Oliver ends up giving his journals to Zara to read, hoping it will explain why he did what he did. The notes that accompany the journals are awfully similar as well, but I don’t really feel like typing out both of them. Just know…they’re similar.
3. The hypocrite speech: Sebastian and Oliver both give a nice little speech where they call Annette and Zara hypocrites. They’re not identical, but pretty freaking close. Check out the comparison:
Sebastian to Annette: “You spend all your time preaching about waiting for love. Well here it is. Right in front you, and you’re going to turn your back on it. So I guess we’re just fucked. I’ll move on. But you’re going to have to live the rest of your life knowing that you’ve turned your back on love. And that makes you a hypocrite. Have a nice life.”
Oliver to Zara: “You’re a hypocrite, you know. You go on and on about waiting to find someone and love and intimacy and then when you finally find what you say you’ve been looking for, you run the other way. You did this to me, Zara. You made me fall for you and now I’m not good enough? You know what, screw you.”
4. The escalator scene: Anyone who has seen Cruel Intentions knows exactly what scene I’m talking about. It’s quite possibly the best…and most memorable…scene of the entire movie. It gives me chills every time. I love it. And that scene is duplicated almost exactly in Laced in Malice, even the dialogue is the same!
Cruel Intentions: Annette says, “I’m impressed,” to which Sebastian replies, “Well, I’m in love.”
Laced in Malice: Zara says, “Well, I’m impressed at least,” to which Oliver replies, “Well, I’m in love. With you.”
That scene was what irked me more than anything. How are you going to copy the dialogue and just add a few extra words?! Gaaaah, it drove me nuts! It was after that when I started to get really annoyed with the unoriginality; luckily I only had about 4% of the book left.
Ultimately, I gave it three stars because the book itself was very well written and Riley Gray obviously has talent as an author. I wish I could rate it higher, I really do, but the fact that it seems to just be a knockoff of Cruel Intentions bummed me out. You can’t top that movie, or even match it content wise, in my opinion. It appears Riley may be veering from the movie plot in the next book of the series, which would be pleasing; regardless, I’ll still read the sequel and hopefully I can produce a more positive review the second time around.