If you were a fan of the Gossip Girl television show, then I imagine Elle Kennedy’s Misfit might be a big hit for you. I was not a fan of Gossip Girl. I am not a fan of this book.
Remington “RJ” Shaw is the quintessential too-cool-for-school loaner hacker dude. Life with a single mother always on the prowl for a new man has jaded RJ beyond his years, and he’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. When his mom finally lands herself a rich guy, RJ is packed off to Sandover Prep with his new stepbrother, Fenn (short for Fennelly), who just so happens to be the exact same age as RJ. The all-boys boarding school is the final chance for the sons of the wealthy who have reached their last stop before prison or disownment. As he always has, RJ determines to keep to himself and to use his computer hacking skills to learn everything he can about everyone and make a little cash on the side. Just in case.
Sloane Tresscott is the daughter of Sandover’s headmaster. She and her sister, Casey, are set to attend St. Vincent’s, an all-girls Catholic school, after a tragic accident the previous spring nearly killed Casey and made her the target of cruel gossip at their previous prep school. Sloane had always been pressured to step up and fill her deceased mother’s shoes as the rock on which the family leans, but now she’s also charged with helping her fragile sister cope. She turns that pressure inwards and becomes a tough-as-nails, hardened girl who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She dumps her on-again-off-again boyfriend for good and determines to focus on her grades and her ambitions of running track at a Division 1 college. No guys. No distractions.
A chance encounter between Sloane and RJ leads from intrigue on his part (Sloane is super hot) and rejection on hers (even though RJ is super hot), to begrudging interest, to secret dating and open attraction. RJ knows that Sloane is the ultimate in forbidden fruit. Not only is she the headmaster’s daughter, but she’s also the ex-girlfriend of Sandover’s self-appointed king-of-the-campus, Duke Jessup. RJ has already run afoul of Duke by refusing to give the guy a cut of RJ’s plagiarized-essays-for-cash scheme or to generally bow down and kiss his ass.
The normally socially-averse RJ does manage to form a friendship group with Fenn and his two buddies, Lawson and Silas. This posse of sorts becomes crucial when RJ determines to take on Duke, both physically in an underground fight club that goes on behind the scenes, and as the leader of the school. Duke gives RJ one month to train before meeting him in the fight ring. If RJ wins the fight, Duke will give up his crown. If RJ loses, he will be forced to leave Sandover – and Sloane – for good.
None of these characters are likable. Lawson and Fenn sleep with more girls than the US Navy’s Second Fleet on shore leave after a six month at-sea deployment. RJ is a hacker who uses his skills to spy on people (yes, even Sloane) and to cheat his way through school while earning serious bank helping other students cheat. He’s arrogant and misanthropic. The only reason to root for him in any way is because the other characters are so much worse. Duke should have had a mustache to twirl, and I worried that I might get a sexually transmitted disease from Lawson through my e-reader screen. He’s an irredeemable sleazebag, and I have no idea how Kennedy thinks to ever make him a hero in the future book that I’m sure is in the works.
Other than Sloane and Casey, girls are treated as nothing more than sex objects for the male characters. They are portrayed as slutty, catty, stupid, and mean, without a single character trait other than descriptions of their bodily parts or how good they are in bed. Bimbo doesn’t even begin to capture it.
Part of the problem here is that these high school kids do not act like high school kids. They don’t speak like juniors and seniors in high school. They have vast amounts of explicit, accomplished sex more suitable for porn stars than seventeen and eighteen-year-olds. They seduce and scheme and scam their way through a world that seems to lack a single responsible, capable adult. It’s the equivalent of historical wallpapering: the setting might be a wealthy boarding school, but that’s the only age-appropriate thing in the book. At least the publisher has the good sense to list this as New Adult rather than Young Adult.
I suppose these kids act like adults shoved in barely post-pubescent bodies because they are so very, very wealthy. A running sentiment (and yet another reason for my dislike of this book) is how attending a public school is only a fraction better than receiving no education at all. Rules at Sandover are a joke. The beverages in the always-stocked mini-fridges in the dorm common rooms are often replaced by the boys with specialty craft beers, drunk openly and proudly. And students treat teachers like trash. When RJ is approached by the swim coach to possibly join the team, he responds, “Yeah, thing is, I already have plans to slam my dick in a car door, so I’m gonna have to take a rain check on that.” The coach’s reaction? Nothing. What kid says this and gets away with it? Apparently very rich ones. A side note: RJ is technically not rich, but because he attends Sandover, it’s a moot distinction.
As far as the plot goes, there’s not a lot there. RJ and Sloane meet. RJ does stupid things and almost loses Sloane. RJ and Duke butt heads. All of the kids drink and have sex and engage in other inappropriate behavior. And… yeah, that’s kind of it. Oh, there is some mystery about what happened the night of Casey’s accident, but the resolution of that is left for the next installment.
I stated at the opening that I didn’t watch Gossip Girl, and the reason that show never appealed to me was that I had no interest in watching high school kids shop, dress up and act like entitled adult brats. Same here. The open-end of Misfit – and the existence of Fenn and Silas and Lawson and Casey – speaks to Kennedy’s plan of writing a pretty lengthy Prep series. I’m out.