this book is campy and silly while dealing with some very serious subject matter and all those earnest hand-wringing folks will likely ask if this is what we “need” right now as a society, but today—seduced by the unexpected option—i bought lavender-scented roach spray, and now i will forever associate bug-extermination with vaporized grannies, so there are a lot of things we do not need as a society, but which make unpleasant things just a little bit weirder. and that’s what this book does: it takes predatory teenage boys, sexually exploited teenage girls, and the blind eyes and cover-ups of responsible adults and makes it weirder than an SVU rerun, rompier than a lifetime original movie, less of a soul-crushing depression bomb than a news story. this one is, dare i say?—fun, and i needed some fun right now, even if that fun is sculpted around a rotten core of humiliation and blackmail and revenge.
if it sounds like this book trivializes rape culture and the objectification of women, i’ve explained it poorly. it doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the problem to offer a book with a lighter tone about that problem. you can buy your acrid-chemical-scented bug spray and feel confident that it is addressing your issue. or you can address the issue and also have some humorous images in your head as you do so.
like spraycan grannies.
and this book’s helpful blowchart:
it’s a breathlessly quick read, and the pacing ushers the reader over some of the book’s undeniable potholes: yes, there are too many characters and only a few are narratively significant; yes, the villains are very villain-y and there’s not a lot of nuance; yes, it’s convenient that all of a sudden, this longstanding and verrrrry secret society of rich lazy white boys is outed en masse, simultaneously, in a creative writing class survey; yes, a prank escalation seems like a disproportionately mild response to the situation, but be aware that escalation can really…escalate. what starts with a stolen scooter sometimes ends…more dramatically.
it’s a fun and funny book, and while it may not be as #metoo #messageheavy as other recently published books on the subject, that doesn’t mean it is without lessons about life and love.
“You don’t make a spork for a guy you’re not into.”
something to keep in mind.