this was my first book for the readventurer challenge. this was catie’s recommendation for me, and i really liked it—yay! i had just finished reading This is Not a Test, so i was glad to read another book by this author, even though this was more of a realistic YA book, and i tend to skew to the dystopian/horror side of the YA field.
this book is about a girl named regina who is nearly raped by her best friend/queen bee anna’s boyfriend at a party. they are both part of a super-toxic clique at the school, untouchably popular, who go out of their way to destroy the lives of others. because anna is so unstable, regina does not mention the assault, but rumors get out, and she finds herself ostracized and forced into a climate of bullying and intimidation tactics that would do credit to a dictator of a small country.
bullying is still a serious problem in the high school environment (and here on goodreads—come on girls—you should love every book unconditionally! think of teh authors!!) and this is one of those important books that show that no one is immune to the terror that bored and clever teenage girls can inflict.
it is not a fun read, there will be plenty of wincing, but is a really good book to slap into the hands of a teenager. actions have consequences. maybe not right away, but teen girls are fickle, and anyone can be made a target at any point.
these are the hard-partying kids; Jeanette lurches up from out of nowhere looking like a guaranteed good time. Strung out. I can never tell when she’s over the party; the party’s usually all over her. some people have pointed out that their behavior stretches belief, but i disagree. this sounds exactly like the parties of my high school experience, even though i went to very few. i didn’t drink and i didn’t drive, and i preferred hosting smaller, more intimate, ummm plant-based gatherings in the safety of my own home, where i could control the atmosphere and the music and could be the good hostess with the making of english-muffin pizzas and whatnot. no one ever threw up at one of my parties. this makes me either a successful or grossly unsuccessful hostess, depending on your priorities. but these kids are drinking heavily and popping pills, and coming out of their haze just long enough to torture each other with the dirt they have acquired , or fabricated, on each other.
the only thing i didn’t like were the seeming inconsistencies of regina’s character. i mean, i know that that age is a period of transitions, “i’m a boy and i’m a man” (yeah, i can quote pre-1980 alice cooper lyrics until the cows come home—try me) but it still bothered me. while i understand how a young girl could be lured into the popular crowd, and once there, could be compelled to perform acts of cruelty with the mob mentality and all that, it is the rest of it that bothers me. she seems to have two sides to her: the side that is incredibly scared and passive, and just takes her punishment, and the side of her that rebels and lashes out with all the creative cruelty she has learned at the hands of anna, who is a true redheaded sociopath. and she wobbles between these two impulses, which makes her character unpredictable, and therefore difficult to sympathize with or get behind. her latent violence is pretty terrifying—this girl could snap at any second.
a quick psa that will probably come back to haunt me: what happened to her at the party, the thing that set off the chain of events, was bad, but not the worst. a little self-defense? maybe carry a knife? a knife you know how to use—don’t go into this all fumbly. all i know is that a knife saved me from a similar situation when i was 17. just—be smart, ladies. no one’s going to come to your rescue except you.
things that strain my belief:View Spoiler » 1) really? anna slept through all of that?? you would think a girl so careful of guarding her alpha reputation would never get that wasted—too wasted to lose control which shows a weakness a character like her never would.
2) if you have the bruises, show the bruises. show everyone. the way she caves in the bathroom because anna is pissed is weird. it isn’t just anna. there were the lesser-members of the group: marta, jeanette, bruce, henry. and josh. especially josh. what good is a boyfriend if he can’t be counted on to kick the ass of the dude that tried to rape you? i understand that regina thought anna would be pissed if she thought she had slept with donnie, but those bruises and a torn skirt do not look like consensual sex. regina seems to have this convenient-for-the-narrative disappearing and reappearing backbone. you walk off in the middle of telling your (ex)boyfriend because he takes a phone call? it’s rude, yeah, but say your piece, girl! it is frustrating for the reader.
3) out of the whole school, there are only two neutral people? the ih8ra page is joined by the whole freaking school. i get that these girls are virulent monsters that have ruined lives, and once one falls from the nest, it is open season, but no one else but liz and michael are above the high school nonsense?
4) was donnie trying again to rape her in that supply closet? seriously? that’s insane.
5) why does michael stay around? especially after his disgust at her after the yourspace page incident, when he can see that she is totally getting off on her own petty revenge? not attractive, regina…i understand why she is proud of it—fighting back feels good, but michael doesn’t, so his devotion feels weird. and she read his journal! right there in public! regina is kind of a shit that it is hard to root for.
6) so much hiding out! if you are not going to go to class, why hide out at the school? that is where people are shoving you down the stairs! get out of that building! i understand that if I’m not moving, nothing bad is happening, but go not-move somewhere else! « Hide Spoiler
so, i know all that sounds like i didn’t like it, but they are just things that made me a little angry reading this book. but this book should make you angry. bullying is stupid. my high school was too small to really contain this kind of thing, so whenever i read about it, it is like a foreign country to me. but it happens. a lot. and it is truly stupid. stop bullying, dummies!