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4 Star Review STAR REVIEWS YA

ARC Review: Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Where did you get this book: Review Copy from Netgalley
Release Date UK/US: March, 2010.

Blurb taken from Fantastic Fiction:

Can Kate Morgan stand up for herself – without being labelled a snitch?

Kate is just as confused as her best friend, Lan, when she arrives at Cleary High to find the building’s been “tagged” with a life-size graffiti mural. Could the culprit be one of their friends or classmates? And is the kind-of-amazing creation really vandalism, or a work of art? She’s tempted to stay out of it – mostly because, as the police chief’s daughter, she’s worried about being labeled a snitch. But when the same mysterious graffiti starts appearing throughout the state, putting more pressure on the authorities to catch the vandal, her investigative instincts kick in.

Now Eli, Kate’s favorite coworker at the local coffee shop, is MIA. With Lan preoccupied with her own boy troubles, Kate needs to figure out some things on her own. Like why she can’t stop thinking about Eli. And what she will do when all the clues about the graffiti point to someone she’s close to.

Tagged was such a fun book to read, and even though it doesn’t have complicated plot threads, it has a lot of depth. Kate, the heroine of the book, was extremely likeable, and I think a lot of teenagers would be able to relate to her. She wasn’t the most popular, nor was she the social pariah of the school. Kate saw herself as average, but I wouldn’t describe her character as that. When I was reading her story, I saw that she could be one of the million teenagers out there who struggle with the problems Kate struggles with, and that’s finding out who she really is, and what she wants to do in her life. I struggled with that while I was in school, and I thought it was a very realistic issue to use in the book.

The love interest between Eli – Kate’s coworker and friend – is quite tame and sweet. Kate has had a crush on him for a while, but he’s been going out with Reva, who hates Kate with a passion. Gotta love the mean and crazy girlfriend. *grins* While the romance aspect is not central to the book, it has a sweetness to it, and it works very well with the overall pace. What I really liked about this book was the simplicity of it all. There were no EMO emotions coming from the characters, or angsty rebellion that you see often. And hallelujah! The heroine of the book actually has a lovely relationship with her parents! While Kate struggles sometimes with her father being the chief of police and with how the kids perceive her at school because of her father, they love each other, and are a strong family unit. This is the first book I have read in a long while that doesn’t have piss poor parents. And this book managed to be a great read without having piss poor parent(s), which enables a teenager protagonist to go off and do their business in a book without worrying about pesky parents telling them off. Tagged also deals with racial tolerance, and Lan – Kate’s best friend – explains to Kate about her desire to fit in for the person she is and not be known as the only Vietnamese girl in school. Mara showcases that racial intolerance does happen when Lan is subjected to a racial comment and the consequences for the individual who made that remark is shown afterwards,  and there is a strong and great message that nobody should be made to feel inferior because of their race.

Tagged deals with a lot of real life issues, and the plot thread surrounding the graffiti and whether it can be called Art or Vandalism was made to be a powerful debate within the book. The actual mystery of who was drawing the Graffiti was predictable to me, and I did wonder why Kate didn’t figure it out beforehand, but the reasoning and purpose behind the graffiti I found to be realistic. The kids in Tagged are shown to be smart and savvy, and apart from the stereotypical rich mean girl that I thought was kinda clichéd, Tagged is a great YA contemporary read.

I give Tagged 4 out of 5.

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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