Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Release date: March 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen/ 201 Pages/ Young Adult
Source: Author (Finished Copy)
Other books by this author: Past Midnight

Kate Morgan is just as confused as the rest of her classmates when she arrives at Cleary High to find six life-size gorillas spray painted on the side of a building. Could the culprit be one of her 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 always accused of being a snitch. But when gorillas start appearing throughout the state, her investigative instincts kick in.

Now Eli, Kate’s favorite co-worker at the local coffee shop, is MIA. With her best friend, 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 clues about the graffiti point to someone she knows...


Tagged is a novel I might not have picked up otherwise, but I’m so glad Mara contacted me to review it! I loved it! To begin with, Mara has a writing style that is honest, funny, and believable. She pulled me into this story and kept me hooked right until the end. Kate is a character anyone can relate to. She is just a normal girl dealing with everyday high school problems. She’s an only child with two loving parents, who played very large roles in this novel, which made me very happy. Too many YA novels of late give the parents a very minor role, if a role at all. Kate and her mother and father had a good relationship and both parents had roles in the novel outside of the home. Readers got to experience their occupations- Mr. Morgan as a police officer and Mrs. Morgan is a cake decorator, and both of these jobs were important to the story.

The main plot line was dealing with a vandalism that was haunting the town of Cleary. Someone was painting gorillas on buildings throughout Kate’s town as well as in various other states. I liked the mystery angle of trying to figure out who the “tagger” was, and also how it fit in with the other sub-plots. There were quite a few sub-plots. One of which was Kate’s job at Something’s Brewing, the cute coffee shop in Cleary. I loved her boss Bonnie in her few appearances and her coworker Eli was terrific and likable- his and Kate’s relationship was so sweet.

There were a wide variety of characters, but Mara managed to keep the plot moving at a fairly quick pace, but also let all the characters develop. Lan, Kate’s best friend, was awesome. She added a lot to the book. She helped Kate through tough times and was a truly great best friend. She dealt with some racial discrimination which made me hate the antagonist even more. Tiffany, the spoiled, bratty, rich girl who was planning a HUGE party was easy to dislike. She was mean to Lan, and pretty much thought of herself as queen. I loved that she got her comeuppance in the end.

Now as I mentioned before the main plot was the vandalism. Although it didn’t play as huge a role as I expected, it still was a creative and intriguing concept. I was always wondering where the graffiti would pop up next and the ending- I was in shock! I felt horrible for Kate and understood what she said about public humiliation! In addition, I liked how Purnhagen tied in the gorillas with all the sub-plots. Everything tied together well at the end, making the reader satisfied. I would love to read more books involving Kate, but I think her story is done.

Tagged was an overall quick and enjoyable read, that will have readers laughing and wondering. This was definitely a fantastic, yet overlooked, debut. This was my first Harlequin Teen read, but I know I’m definitely going to have to read more if they’re all this good! Definitely go pick up a copy today as Tagged is filled with wonderful characters, mystery, romance, and great writing!

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. Sounds good, and different. Thanks for the review.

  2. This one sounds really good! Great review!

  3. Great review. I've seen this book on Goodreads, but hadn't seen many reviews around the blogs. I'll have to add this one to my list, as I'm in need a quick, worthwhile read.

  4. It is hard to read a story and picture the character one way, only to see her another way on the cover.

  5. Kelsey,

    you made this book sound really good. I need more time in the day to read both YA and contemporary fiction! I love the idea of gorilla graffiti, and really love it when YA writers come up with such original ideas.

    I also love that you raised the issue of how parents are portrayed or not portrayed in YA fiction. Did you know that the New York Times Sunday Book Review had a whole article on this very topic this past Sunday? I blogged about it because it really interests me and I'd love your feedback here.


    Keep up your great reviews. We need you!

    The Pull of Gravity, FSG, 2011.

  6. did I say love it? I meant am totally green with envy. :)

  7. Awesome review. I have 2 pick this one up!


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