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VOYAIn the fourth book in The Dating Game series, central figures Mads, Holly, and Lena find the popular high school dating Web site they created challenged by their school principal after the three sophomores appear on a radio show to talk about their site. The "Ex-Rating" feature of the site-in which students submit assessments of former boyfriends or girlfriends in a sort of backwards personal ad-becomes the point of controversy, and after the principal receives a call from a parent angry that his daughter has been described as "bangin'" by a former boyfriend, the girls' "Dating Game" site is removed from the school's server. With Holly and Lena distracted by their own romance-related dramas, Mads takes the reins and organizes a student free-speech rally in hopes of reinstating the Web site. Unlike the aesthetically similar and competing A-List and Gossip Girl series, the Dating Game series as evidenced in this installment is not well realized. The characters are broadly drawn and difficult to discern from one another, and although it is clear that the author's intent is to introduce a diverse group of central and supporting characters, the friends of the main characters rarely deviate from stereotype. Romance and personality-themed quizzes are interspersed throughout the narrative, giving a sense of interactivity; however, they are typically of the "If you chose all (a)s . . ." variety and easily decoded. A supporting Web site at http://www.DatingGameBook.com is advertised in the endpapers, and with the exception of the option of viewing the characters' fictional homepages, proves equally uninteresting. VOYA CODES: 2Q 4P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a3Q; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Little Brown, 204p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.
—Amy S. Pattee