The Bad Apple TR Burns Book Review

The Bad Apple by TR Burns (Tricia Rayburn) is the first of a middle grade series called The Merits Of Mischief. Seamus Hinkle finds himself at Kilter Academy after accidentally killing a substitute teacher with one bad throw of an apple. To outsiders, Kilter looks like the harshest reform school on the block. To the staff and students, though it is a luxurious school with state of the art equipment that teaches it’s students to be professional troublemakers.

The Bad Apple Merits Of Mischief TR Burns Book Cover

The Bad Apple

Seamus Hinkle, prior to the apple incident, was one of those good kids who never even went so far as to color outside the lines. But, because of one very bad choice everyone thinks that he is something he is not, namely a troublemaker. Will Seamus shake thinks up and take a walk on the wild side or will he continue to play it safe?

TR Burns builds a fun world and a school I would not mind going to, although Kilter Academy is no match for Hogwarts. Demerits are considered a desirable thing and a badge of honor. Gold stars, on the other hand, may as well be scarlet letters. Bad is in at Kilter. Each student earns credits to spend on troublemaking supplies at the Komissary based on demerits. Another interesting thing about Burns’ world? Each student is issued a device similar to an iPhone called a K-Pak which gives them emails and homework and missions.

However, I am left with a few questions at the end of The Bad Apple. What is the point of the troublemaking? Where do all of the supplies and goods that are sold at the Komissary come from? Is it magic? Also, the ending is a cliffhanger and not very satisfactory.

Yet, there are good times to be had while reading about The Bad Apple. Sometimes mischief and capers can be downright amusing. It’s interesting to see uptight Seamus begin to trust himself, make friends, and loosen up. I’d definitely recommend Merits Of Mischief: The Bad Apple by TR Burns to fourth-seventh graders, both male and female.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine.

Other reviews of The Bad Apple by TR Burns:

The Maniac Society Of Young Book Reviewers – “I really like the main character

Kid Lit Geek – “It’s a tremendously fun read

Shannon Messenger – “a quick, fun read full of twists and turns and hilarious debacles

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I haven’t heard of this one. It does sound like a really cute book. I wish the troublemaking part was explained more…you think that would be a big thing to mention, but ah well, still sounds like a goodie and perfect for younger readers.


    • Right? You would think there would be some backstory to explain why making trouble is necessary, but alas it was missing.

      And yeah, I think this one would be great for youngsters.

  2. Wait…he killed a teacher. Like…killed. Like…they’re dead now.

    Am I the only one who sees an issue with this?

  3. Not a fan of the cliffhanger ending but this story sounds really cute. I like that they’re “training” troublemakers (though I do wonder why–maybe in the next book we’ll find out the purpose).

  4. I’ve been super excited for this MG ever since I saw it in Shelf Awareness a few months ago (and hurrah for randomly receiving it in a BEA goodie bag), so I’m glad that you liked it, even though you had issues with not enough information/a cliffhanger.

    I might hold off on reading it until closer to the second book’s release. I don’t want to get mad at the cliffhanger and then not read book 2.

    Thanks for the review, April!

  5. Sounds like a fun book but yeah, I would wonder the same things you did about what was it all for. But it’s a series, right? so maybe answers are still ahead. 😀

  6. I’ve been vaguely wondering about this one–sounds like I might enjoy it! Thanks.

  7. Tricia Rayburn was one of the authors at my table at breakfast during book blogger con. She was talking about this, and the premise sounded cool. Good to see a review. I don’t think I’m going to be in any rush to procure this. I hate when authors don’t explain HOW things work!

  8. I’ll tone down my expectations of this one. Obviously, I’ll be letting you know my thoughts!

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