Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn

Katie Finn continues her trilogy of novels about Gemma Tucker in Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold (a fantastic title). It's the sequel to Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend which was released last year. Katie Finn is the alias of acclaimed YA novelist Morgan Matson, whose books I've talked about here already. The planned trilogy takes place in the Hamptons, where Gemma is staying for the summer with her dad. She's moved into a huge mansion that belongs to her dad's writing partner, Bruce, as they both get underway on an adaptation of the successful erotic vampire novel that is referenced frequently in the book. 

In Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend, a case of mistaken identity led to Gemma's summer getting off to a disastrous start. For the first few weeks of her holidays, she fell head-first into a revenge plan orchestrated by her childhood friend Hallie. Gemma purposefully broke up her father and Hallie's mother when they dated years ago, worried that their relationship would get in the way of her parents getting back together. This included spreading a horrible rumour about Hallie's mother, ruining her career as a novelist. Unbeknownst to Gemma, Hallie has been planning for years to get her back. 

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold picks up right where the first book left off: after Gemma's real identity is revealed, and her relationship with Hallie's brother Josh is put to an end. Finn does an excellent job summarizing the first book without taking too many pages away from the second book. There are so many books - particularly fantasy series - where there is little or no reminder about what happened in the previous instalment, which is sometimes necessary when there's a gap of 3-5 years between books. Finn summarizes in narrative form, rehashing scenes from the previous book to remind readers of where they will pick up with Gemma.

A few new characters have been added to the story. Gemma's best friend Sophie Curtis (who Gemma pretended to be in the previous book, after Sophie's name was written on her coffee cup) comes to stay for the rest of the summer, and so do Bruce's children, Gwyneth and Ford. Ford, who is suddenly more attractive than Gemma remembers him being. He's lost his braces, and is now a nationally ranked surfer. 

At first Gemma decides not to retaliate, but then thinks better of it. She gets a job behind an ice cream counter (in Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone, protagonist Emily scoops ice cream as a summer job, too), and enlists Sophie and Gwyneth in her plans. My sister said she had a huge amount of secondhand embarrassment reading about Gemma's plans for revenge, and I completely agree. The events escalate the night of Hallie's birthday party, setting up a perfect cliffhanger that the third and final instalment will work on resolving. It's a fun, quick read, and I'm looking forward to the resolution of the series next year. 

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