Book Reviews

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard: Blog Tour & Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

Expected publication May 10th, 2022 by Christy Ottaviano Books.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.

The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?

This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Christy Ottaviano Books/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

After really enjoying the thrilling romp that was She’s Too Pretty to Burn last year, I definitely had my eyes on Wendy Heard’s newest novel, Dead End Girls.

“We fly to Hawaii on Saturday, and a few days later I’ll be dead. It will be a tragic accident. I seriously cannot wait.”

Firstly, what. a. concept! The book kicks off with Maude in the throws of committing pseudocide (i.e., faking her own death). She’s been playing the part of the perfect student, daughter, and girlfriend all the while secretly working side jobs, procuring fake but inscrutable IDs, and creating her new British identity, Elizabeth. She has it all planned out and is ready to set it in motion during her step-family’s annual trip to Hawaii.

That is – until her step-cousin catches her in the act.

But Frankie is battling her own demons, and rather than rat Maude out, she wants in herself. But Maude never anticipated a tagalong on her journey, and her intricate planning quickly unravels under the stark reality of their situation. But the girls are in it together now. And there’s no going back.

“We don’t belong on this island. We don’t even exist here. We’re no one, going nowhere, untraceable, untamable. And now I wonder if we’re truly wild, because what we just did isn’t what Maude would ever do. It’s not even what Elizabeth would do. I’m someone unexpected, with new and dark potential, and I feel… Alive. At last.”

One of the things I loved best about this novel’s predecessor, She’s Too Pretty to Burn, was Heard’s ability to build such intense and sinister suspense throughout her story. And Dead End Girls definitely capitalizes on this strength. It starts on a high and just keeps getting more and more nail-biting, hair-raising worthy; an absolute thrill of a ride.

Honestly, Maude and Frankie do not catch a break! And consequently, neither do you as the reader.

I’m talking up-all-night, checking-the-clock-and-promising-yourself-just-one-more-chapter, going-to-bed-way-too-late-even-though-you’re-supposed-to-be-a-reasonable-adult, seriously, impossible-to-put-down suspense.

Both Maude and Frankie were really interesting characters to follow as well. Maude was instantly appealing to me as a protagonist. Super unique and very driven. Despite knowing she wasn’t doing The Right Thing, she was so easy to root for. Frankie took a little longer for me to warm up to because she does start out kind of annoying.

Dead End Girls reads like this wacky mix between a dramatic thriller and a totally unconventional road trip. Unexpected? Yes. But it works, in a really fun way.

It was easy to get swept up in the adventure along with these characters and feel for them as things continue to turn from bad to worse.

About the Author

Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Spotify

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

~ Check out the rest of the tour schedule here!

Have you read Dead End Girls?

What did you think of it?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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