It's summertime and hormones are raging for the high school students at Yale University's camp for the arts. Olivia arrives with pentup anger over walking in on her dad cheating on her mom with a student, and is determined to write about it. Though Olivia has instituted a personal "boy boycott," when dashing Max develops an immediate crush on her, her skepticism fuels her writing. Her musical, a reworking of Much Ado About Nothing, mirrors Olivia and Max's own ups and downs and features many libidinous musical numbers ("Threesome, threesome, threesome/ How can I get me some?/ ... The things we will be doing/ Like the pornos I've been viewing"). The characters' actual dialogue is equally sex-drenched-the American Pie crowd will love it-though the relentless and explicit banter can be exhausting. With a skeevy reinterpretation of Pat the Bunny and a crudely funny song about Bella Swan likely to draw the ire of Twilighters, Wizner's (Spanking Shakespeare) sophomore novel may reach new heights-or, possibly, depths-of notoriety. Ages 14-up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up
Max is stoked to be attending Yale's arts program, but his near-disastrous run-in with Olivia leaves him wondering about his romantic prospects there. Olivia's sworn off guys for the summer, and she's working on Castration Celebration , a musical about a sweet girl wronged by her lust-driven boyfriend. The two spar throughout the program, with Max accepting Olivia's elaborate challenges to prove his dedication to her. After a quick road trip and an all-night discussion, the pair finally accept their attraction to one another and nearly achieve a happy ending. It's no surprise that hormones drive this plot, and Max's attempts to win Olivia's affections are perfectly pulled from contemporary date movies. Pop references collide with gross-out humor as Max creates a song featuring Twilight 's Bella and music by U2 that will have teens groaning and laughing. Olivia's writing feels stilted, an odd blend of small-town nostalgia and urban edginess, and the characters, both in the musical and in the narrative, lack diverse voices. Max enjoys the odd joint, and his drug use does have consequences. Teens will enjoy the plentiful laughs and the authentic friendship that Max develops with Zeke, his roommate. Lighthearted and humorous, this novel will appeal to older readers.-Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Max, an actor, and Olivia, a playwright, meet at drama camp when Max trips over Olivia. While Max jumps through hoops to win Olivia's heart, Olivia spends most of her time working on her play, Castration Celebration, which is inspired by her cheating father. Tired rather than titillating, Olivia's play, a semi-retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, is exactly that. During drama camp, Max and Olivia are supported by a cast of artistic roommates, including a pot-smoking guitarist and a lesbian actress. Buried in page after page of increasingly tiresome penis jokes is a painfully realistic romance, full of manipulation and confusion. Max, Olivia and their friends are caring and witty, but therein lies the book's biggest problem: They are so witty, with the perfect response to all situations, that they become caricatures rather than three-dimensional characters. Their confusion over sex and love is palpable; however, the hints of emotion that come through are often hard to find while the reader wades through pages of Castration Celebration script and anatomy jokes. Nonetheless, the title and content guarantee that this volume will be stolen from library shelves everywhere. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
Olivia entered her suite to find a Barbie look-alike already there, listening to her iPod and dancing around the common room in impossibly short shorts and a midriff-baring T-shirt. When she spotted Olivia, she smiled hugely and pulled off her headphones. “Oh my God!” she squealed. “I know you. You were right in front of me in line before!”
“Small world,” Olivia said with a smirk.
“I’m Mimi,” Barbie said. “We’re the only ones here so far. You want to share a room with me?” She pointed to the bedroom on the left. “It’s a little bigger, I think.”
Oh God, Olivia thought. She looked toward the bedroom, but did not move.
“Plus it’s got better feng shooey, because the beds are farther from the door.”
Feng shooey? Olivia stifled a laugh. Just for the raw material Mimi would provide, maybe it would be worth it to share. And there really was no graceful way to turn down the offer without hurting Mimi’s feelings. “How can I say no to better feng shooey?” Olivia said, beginning to wheel her suitcase to the left.
Mimi followed her into the room. “How funny is it that we’re roommates and we checked in at exactly the same time? I mean, check-in is all day, so we could have come at any time. It’s like fate, or something, that we ended up roommates, don’t you think?”
Keep a straight face, Olivia told herself, and don’t say anything too sarcastic. She placed her suitcase flat next to her bed and began to unzip it. Maybe if she didn’t respond, Mimi would stop talking.
“I mean what are the chances that we’d be right next to each other at registration? Like a million to one, right?”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing I stopped to get drunk on the way here this morning,” Olivia blurted, “or we would have totally missed each other.”
“Are you serious?” Mimi’s eyes popped wide. “No, you’re kidding.”
“I probably shouldn’t drink when I’m on so many painkillers, but, hey, it’s summer, right?”
Mimi’s expression veered from amusement to serious concern, and Olivia burst out laughing.
“Oh my God!” Mimi squealed. “I totally believed you for a second!”
Olivia shook her head. “Don’t worry, I’m actually a pretty straight arrow. No drinking, no drugs, nothing illegal for me.”
“Well, that’s a relief.” Mimi plopped down on her bed and her voice took on a playful quality. “What about boys?”
“Definitely none of them,” Olivia said decisively.
“Get out!” Mimi shrieked. “Have you seen all the hot guys here?”
Olivia chuckled. Just her luck to get stuck with a nymphomaniac.
In the same dorm, one floor below, Max was unpacking when a tall, skinny guy with long hair walked into the room, wheeling a huge suitcase, wearing a backpack over one shoulder, and carrying a guitar.
“Hey,” Max said.
The guy gave a little nod. “What’s up?”
“Zeke.” He dropped the backpack on the empty bed and leaned his guitar against the wall.
“You here for music?” Max asked.
Zeke opened his book bag, fished out a bottle of water, and took a big swig. Then he brushed his hair out of his face and lifted his suitcase onto the bed.
“You’d think with how much money we’re paying we’d get a bigger room, right?” Max said.
“At least some air-conditioning.”
“I know. This room’s like a fucking sauna.”
“You think any of the rooms have air-conditioning?” Zeke asked.
“If they do, I’m requesting a transfer. No offense.”
Max was actually feeling pretty happy about his roommate situation. For all he knew, he might have ended up with a violin prodigy named Vladimir, who practiced eight hours a day and was several years away from either Carnegie Hall or a complete nervous breakdown. Zeke, on the other hand, seemed like the kind of guy who would be up for almost anything. A young Joey Ramone.
“So,” Max said, pointing to Zeke’s guitar. “What kind of music do you play?”
Zeke brushed his hair back with his hands. “I don’t know. Mostly my own stuff, I guess.”
“You in a band?”
Zeke shook his head. “Used to be.”
Zeke shrugged. “Lead singer kind of dropped out. Band just fell apart after that.”
Max put on his best TV voice. “They had everything going for them: a hit album, a sold-out concert tour, and a multi-record deal, but behind the scenes, trouble was brewing in paradise. In-fighting and drug abuse were threatening to pull the band apart, and when lead singer . . .” He reverted to his own voice. “What was your lead singer’s name?”
Zeke hesitated. “Devin Baines,” he said.
“And when lead singer Devin Baines overdosed on pain?killers just before a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, it looked like the band’s days were numbered.”
“You watch too much VH1,” Zeke said, turning away.
“Probably,” Max agreed.
Zeke unzipped his suitcase, took out an iPod dock, and put it on the shelf of his desk. “You can use this,” he said, plugging it in, “but no Celine Dion when I’m in the room.”
Upstairs in Olivia and Mimi’s suite, the two remaining girls—Trish and Callie—had arrived, and the foursome was complete. At the moment, they were sitting two and two on the couches in the common room, and Mimi was gushing over Callie’s short, spiky hair and the multiple studs in each ear.
“It’s like so punk rock, you know. Do boys like that?”
Callie seemed mildly amused. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never asked them.”
“Do you think I’d look good with short hair?” Mimi pulled her hair up and bunched it against the back of her head.
“With your body, you’d look good bald,” Trish said, folding her arms across her stomach.
“Shut up,” Mimi said delightedly. She jumped up and bounded into the bedroom to look in a mirror. A few seconds passed, and then she called, “What’s everyone wearing to dinner tonight?”
Olivia threw a knowing smile at Trish and Callie. “Pretty spectacular, isn’t she?”
Callie rolled her eyes.
“I wasn’t planning to change,” Trish said, as Mimi walked back into the room.
Olivia feigned shock. “You’re going to wear jeans and an oversize Yale T-shirt? With all the cute boys here?”
From the Hardcover edition.