Okay, so reviews of books I have read recently aside, I have read some fantastic series over the years from YA and adult authors. This new section of my blog is going to look at those series from those authors as a whole and give an overview of why I think that the series deserves such high praise, as well as how it related to me when I read it.
My first series may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but I was enthralled with the Private series by Kate Brian. I read every single one of these dark young adult novels about young love, murder, secrecy, legacy and friendship. While the series did take a bit of a strange turn toward the end, I did very much enjoy it as a teenager and it helped me to escape to a world of wealth and privilege.
Reed Brennan is a poor girl from a small town who gets a scholarship to study at an elite boarding school. Once she arrives, she discovers that the real elite at the school is found within the Billings house, occupied by the Billings girls. Reed is caught up in the throes of their clear wealth, power and popularity. Once she gets a toe in the door, she cannot help but push it wide open only to be caught in a world of secrets, lies and murder.
Okay, so this may not be the best written series in the world; Reed lacks depth in the first couple of books and the other characters carry her through, but this is eerie and feels like a dark Gossip Girl re-imagining. This is a series you have to read as a series; much like Pretty Little Liars. The series is divided up in my mind into two smaller series of four books, which could have been written as one entire novel on their own, but have been broken down for accessibility. Each of the sets of four tells the reader a different story. The first set is the Ariana and Thomas story, which delves into psychological states at a young age and where psychological damage can come from. The second set focuses on Sabine and her connection to the Billings girls.
The breakdown from there would be into three sets of two books; Reed’s island adventure with Noelle, Kiran and Taylor; Reed starting Billings over again; then finally the very strange final books which involve magic, witches and lots of running from potential murderers.
It has to be said that I devoured these books when I was a teenager; they were scandalous and sexy, with the right amount of romance and friendship to break up the action-packed drama. I would literally search for hours to find the next one in the series, as I found the first few in my local library, then had to find them online which, ten years ago was nowhere near as simple as it is today. I think that was part of their appeal, to be honest. I wanted to collect this mysterious series which was difficult to get, so that made obtaining them much more rewarding.
I loved these books because…
They were the perfect escape for a teenager living in a small village with little transport and not much entertainment. I desired to be just like Noelle; sassy and sure of myself, while being fiercely loyal to my friends. The exclusive, elite group of girls was an incredibly seductive idea to someone who had only attended normal schools and the most exclusive thing I had ever been a part of was my performing arts group on a Saturday morning.
I read these books before I had ever watched Gossip Girl, and they went hand-in-hand for me, with Pretty Little Liars following and drawing me completely in to stories of drama, death and mystery. They were my first look into the thriller genre and I learned a lot about myself from the characters who were all going through the same stages in their lives.
I loved Kate Brian because…
She created the exclusive world I was escaping to. She made the readers feel like they were part of something special. The fact that she had her own author website with exclusive details and information about when the next book was coming out made you feel like you were a Billings girl in some way and that Kate had inducted you into the club.
She has received a lot of negativity on GoodReads for some of the books in this series, but people need to remember that this is a scandalous, trashy set of novels for young adults to devour under their covers at night while they wish that they could lead a life with so much wealth and privilege. This series is for the naive, young females who can only dream of living in big cities but will one day make it happen like Reed did, because Reed did! One of my favourite GoodReads quotes about these books is that they are like ‘Book Crack’ – once you start them, you just can’t stop until you’ve finished the entire series.
Since, she has written a spin-off series focusing on Arianna from the series, entitled Privilege, which follows on from the one-off spin-off, Last Christmas, which I am very tempted to read. She has also written a series entitled Shadowlands.
The Private series:
The Book of Spells
The Privilege series: