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Review of "Under the Rose" by Diana Peterfreund

I hereby confess...

I really liked Under the Rose--as a matter of fact I liked it even more than Secret Society Girl.  This book had some of the same problems that the first one did (mainly a rushed ending), but either they weren't as bad as in the first book or they just didn't bother me as much.

For those that haven't read my review of Secret Society Girl (and why haven't you?) or aren't familiar with the series, Under the Rose follows Eli University senior Amy Haskell as she makes her way in the world of Rose and Grave, a prestigious secret society on the Eli Campus (very much in the way of Skull and Bones on the real life Yale campus).  In the first book, Amy, a junior at the time, was tapped by Rose and Grave as part of the D177 class, which also happens to be the very first class that included women, causing many of the Patriarchs (the old boys' club) to wreak havoc on the current class and the one that tapped them because they were under the impression that it was still the 19th Century.

Under the Rose picks up a few months after the ending of Secret Society Girl and a few things have changed, the least of which is that Amy is now a senior and needs to get her school work in order, especially her senior thesis.  Unfortunately, Rose and Grave is taking up more of her time than she thought it would and her school work ends up taking a back seat to her society life.  First, there is a strange rhyming threat about the society "rotting from within," which was closely followed by a website leaking society secrets, making the Patriarchs none too happy and all too willing to stop funding the current class.  It doesn't help matters that none of her society brothers and sisters are willing to believe Amy's conspiracy theories and she on her own in regards to finding (1) the leak and (2) one of the missing diggirls, the nickname that was given to the female society members.  Of course, the one person she could turn to is the one person she doesn't want to turn to: Poe, one of the members of D176, the class that graduated in the prior book.  For many reasons Amy doesn't like Poe, but she knows that he would do anything to help the society, so they start working together to solve the mystery.

This book was very much about feeling included and accepted.  Amy still feels like an outsider because she wasn't originally supposed to be tapped and because she doesn't consider herself as accomplished as some of the other diggers.  Poe feels like an outsider because as a law student he no longer has access to the entire campus and because he doesn't have to funds to have the kind of social life that other students on the campus do.  Lydia feels like an outsider because Amy has her society and she failed to get tapped the year before (not that she was willing to part with that information).  The male members of the society felt left out because they felt that the girls were more interested in hanging out on their own than in inviting the entire society to hang out with them.  The girls felt left out for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the pressure put on the society by a cadre of Patriarchs, who still wanted to women out of their society.

I still felt like the ending got the short straw as it came very quickly.  I know that there are two more books in the series, but I don't particularly like feeling as if a book should end with "To Be Continues" instead of "The End."  There were a lot balls up in the air and the way the end was set up it felt like Ms. Peterfruend was trying to tie everything up in a bow.  All of a sudden the disappearance of one of the diggirls was solved, Amy's relationship with one of her brothers was discontinued, Lydia's secret came out as did Jenny's, and the villains got what was coming to them.  It was all too neat and gave me the feeling that there was more to the story (which of course there is).

I am hoping that the next book, which is waiting for me at the library, tells us more about Poe, whose name is actually Jamie.  I really liked learning a bit about him in this book, but he is still a bit of a mystery and it seems as if there is something between him and Amy.

In the end, I would have to give this book 4.5 stars because while there were some problems the writing is spectacular.  You're grabbed from the very first page and you don't want to stop reading even after the book is done.


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