Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens [Review]

Murder Is Bad Manners (Wells and Wong, #1)3.5 out of 5 Robots!

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

Series: Wells & Wongs Mystery
Genre: Middle Grade/Historical Fiction/Mystery
Release: April 21st, 2015
Hardcover: 320 Pages
Publisher: Simon and Schusters Books for Young Readers
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
I was pretty excited to give this a try because I love this type of setting.  I am fascinated by boarding schools because it is about the furthest thing from my childhood.  I didn't even live in the dorms in college.  I'm an only child.  I lived close enough to my schools to walk to them.  So the idea of all these kids living together without their parents is a strange concept.  I also love plucky kids.  I was hoping for a Flavia de Luce vibe.  And it was a cute book.  But I just didn't connect to it as much as I hoped.

Here is what I liked:
**As I mentioned, I loved the setting.  Especially as it was set in 1934.  That boarding school/historical fiction intersection is kind of my jam.  

**I loved the description of the teachers.  They were not perfect and had messy lives.  The love triangle between some of the teachers was amusing. 

**I liked the quirkiness of the book.  It reminded me a bit of the movie Clue.  Just a little dark humor sprinkled here and there.  

**I also liked Hazel.  I wish she would grow a backbone, but I found her a fun, if not a bit clueless.  

**I liked Hazel and Daisy's relationship.  Hazel, coming from Hong Kong and thereby being very foreign to the other English girls, desperately wants to fit in.  Daisy befriends her, but is not entirely nice to her.  Daisy is very much used to be the star of the show and does not like her authority to be questioned.  Hazel is dazzled by Daisy, but also put off by her behavior.  But she doesn't want to rock the boat, so she mostly keeps her mouth shut.  Hazel and Daisy's relationship is complicated and I appreciated that.  It felt like they were more "frenemies" than best friends.  But their relationship grows by the end, which is good because...

Here is what I didn't like:
**I found Hazel and Daisy's relationship to be extremely frustrating!  I wanted Hazel to grow a backbone and stand up to Daisy a lot more than she did.  

**The mystery should have been a lot more interesting...but it wasn't really.  I mean, some one was murdered!  That should be intense.  It was pretty anti-climatic.  

**I didn't always like the way Hazel's Chinese ethnicity was handled.  It wasn't that I expected her to fit right in, especially in 1934 England, but there were some stereotypes that made me deeply uncomfortable.  For example, her father had concubines.  That seems extremely stereotypical to me, but after poking around the internet, it may have been more common during that time period than I thought.  It was seemed...unnecessary.

**Lastly, I was just a little bored.  Not enough happens to keep my interest for long periods of time and I wasn't that invested in the characters.  I got a little tired of Daisy "Mean Girl"-ing Hazel all the time.


Super cute premise, but could have used some more zip.  I would love the read the sequel though to see if some of these issues are smoothed out.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. I love boarding school settings too. It always seems like fun. It's a shame this book didn't turn out as good as it hoped. Interesting to have two main characters who aren't really good friends, though.

  2. ...concubines. Welp. That's a new one haha! I like complicated relationships...but honestly they usually stress me out when it's like that! I'm not sure if I'll pick this up or not. Maybe if I'm browsing at the library? I don't think I'll actively seek it out though.



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