4.8 17
by Jake Coburn

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Nick and his friends have everything: expensive clothes, beautiful apartments, rich friends. The island of Manhattan is at their feet. But underneath this picture-perfect world of private schools and private parties lies a gang world filled with drinking, drugs, casual sex, and graffiti. And Nick wants out. He's had enough of the life, and he's in love with his

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Nick and his friends have everything: expensive clothes, beautiful apartments, rich friends. The island of Manhattan is at their feet. But underneath this picture-perfect world of private schools and private parties lies a gang world filled with drinking, drugs, casual sex, and graffiti. And Nick wants out. He's had enough of the life, and he's in love with his best friend, Kris, even though she's oblivious to his feelings. When Kris's younger brother becomes a gang target, Nick thinks he can help, even if it means putting his own life at risk.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"When you have money and everything still blows most of the time, you don't want to spend your life just making more." This sentiment drives the Manhattan private-school students in Coburn's debut novel to emulate the thuggish nihilism they see on MTV, creating tiered hierarchies of gangs, talking like rappers but wearing Rolexes and Ralph Lauren shirts. Narrator Nick, a reputedly legendary graffiti artist, has had enough of this scene and tries to get on with his life-and more specifically, to tell his best friend, Kris, that he has always loved her. Kris's drug-addled mess of a brother, Danny, runs afoul of the vicious MKII gang, and when Nick intervenes, he finds himself in the crosshairs of the MKII also. The two plot threads never quite mesh. The relationship between Nick and Kris is artfully conveyed, painful and bittersweet. But the sound bites of upscale white-kid ghetto-speak sound hollow ("That Nippon place is whack... sushi's mad dry by the time it gets here"), at times coming across as parody. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Life in the prep school is not all study and work. Instead there is another world, one of gangs and violence where parties with drugs, sex, and heavy drinking are the norm. Nick travels in this hardened world of prep school gangs and must come to terms with witnessing his friend get hurt in a brawl while he stood by and watched. Nick is also in love with Kris, who plays hot and cold with him, until she finally rescues him from police arrest after he is involved in a fight. The romance between Kris and Nick is an interesting twist as it is Kris, the female, who seems to hold the power over Nick and keeps him captive with her on again, off again interest. Profanity abounds in the novel, and although may be relevant to the character, often interferes with the reader's ability to empathize with the character and his problems in a prep school gang. Although an interesting read on a subject not often written about, prep school gangs, the book should only be considered by mature high school readers. 2003, Dutton Books, Ages 15 to 17.
— Mindy Hardwick
Nick attends prep school in Manhattan and comes from a wealthy family; but, like Holden Caulfield, phonies and doubts beset him, and danger lurks at every turn. The evil underbelly of the prep school world is revealed here in the "blue-blood thugs" who imitate gang culture and run tough crews wearing North Face jackets, looking for action and "street cred." Drugs, drunken hookups, house-destroying house parties and violence are all part of an evening's entertainment for them. Nick, a former "tag" (graffiti) artist who withdrew from the scene in horror when a friend was nearly killed, has tried to stay away from these gangs, but when the younger brother of the girl Nick secretly loves runs afoul of them Nick finds himself involved, "throwing down" (fighting) in self-defense in a climatic scene in a church. This first novel by a young writer is based on his own prep school experiences, and it may be a real eye-opener for some. The prep-school thugs even copy the language of gangs: for instance, "So your bitch ass thinks you can just walk away from everything?" Profanities are numerous. Readers will empathize with sensitive Nick as he makes his way through this nightmarish world of privileged punks, mourning his dead father and pining for a girl, and (one hopes) they will be shocked and disgusted by the behavior of the preppy gangs. This is a raw, convincing portrait of a disturbing and little-known subculture. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Penguin Putnam, Dutton, 176p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This novel focuses squarely on the world of Manhattan prep-school teens with too much money, too little family, and too few morals. These young men beat and cut one another for fun, territory, or girls, and generally use violence to gain reputations, power, and control. Nick, a famous ex-tagger, is haunted by the memory of the knife that nearly killed his friend Kodak, and ignores the recruiting efforts of various gang members. He is secretly in love with his best friend, Kris. When her younger brother gets in trouble, Nick tries to intercede and is once again drawn into the gang circle, though he's not sure that he's ready to fight. Prep does an excellent job of revealing the darker side of growing up rich, including drugs, easy sex, and drinking. Coburn's brief sentences and often-raw gang slang create a cadence and reflect the movement of the novel through four suspenseful days. While some of the gang members seem to be from central casting, the main characters are exceptionally well drawn and sympathetic.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
4.35(w) x 7.05(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Prep is Jake Coburn's first novel, which he wrote at the young age of twenty-four. Mr. Coburn grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side and attended several different prep schools. There he witnessed some of New York City's most privileged teens form vicious street gangs. He now is a full-time writer.

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Prep 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i couldn't put down the fone once i picked it up... it was so interesting and i just thought that it kept me thinking about wat was going to happen next i think this book was so great. i love the book because it was not lik a book the your are jst interested of for a second but it kept u asking your self questions all the time. IT WAS GREAT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I myself an 18 year old from a mid size town in michigan really enjoyed this book. Prep offers a 'big city' feel as well as a great sense of being right there with the character. I highly suggest this for any teen, or any book reader. Two thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis was the best book i have eva red. it rOcS
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prep is a real eye opening book that teens and parents of all ages should read. I personally did not know about such gangs and hoods in private schools. This book really shines a light on what goes on in all schools systems public and private. I really enjoyed this book. It discusses real issues surrounding students in schools today. Prep shows how private schools are capible of having problems too. In this novel, kids had everything they wished for, making it hard to please them. After a while the only way some were happy was to take others happiness away. Many teens got involved in drugs and other risky behaviors. This book really shows the hardships teens these days face. This book gives good examples of how to deal with those hardships.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book thinking I was not the type of person to read about prep - school gangs, hoods, and tagging. Jake Coburn made this book AWESOME and wonderful to read! A very realistic dialouge and an action filled plot make this book one you (or at least I) could not put down! I strongly recommend this book just for pleasure, but along the way I learned a lot about underworld New York, prep schools, workaholics parents, friendship, and finding your identity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book that I would definently recommend! It had very realistic dialogue and events that kept me reading! I definently can't wait for the next Jake Coburn book! He is an awesome writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prep is a very realistic book and the fact that he used his real life experiences growing up as a teen in New York are what kept me reading throughout the book. Page after page the violence that people have surprised me and drew me to keep reading to see what else would happen. Teens who had everything they could ever want drew their happiness from other people¿s pain. The romance in Prep seemed just like the emotions I am going through right now and it helps to know that other people are going through the same thing you are and you aren¿t alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book held my attention from first page to last. I was so disappointed when I finished it but now I read it over and over again on a daily basis. It's probably my favorite book and they should really consider making it into a movie. This is for anyone is interested in gangs, unrequited love, drug use, and rich people who hide some secrets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, what I didn't know about white rich guys. I had no idea the gangs and little clicks they had or well have. I see them on the streets of New York all the time, but now reading this book, I think twice about them, they can be dangerous. Anyway back to the review.. well I find this book very well witten and very graphic to the mind. It's good, good as hell. I injoyed it very much. I would recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The relationships are interesting, the dialogue is realistic and the story just draws you in. I can't wait for the movie and the next Jake Coburn book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book i went in to the book store and read the jacket took it home brought it to school and read it i loved this book and i would recomend it to any1 but kids under 13 they may not be able to handle or under stand the sexual things in it and is unnappropriate for them too
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prep is not only a terrific read but a very real depiction of the difficulties being a teen. Growing up myself in NYC, I can say confidently that Prep is very realistic, which only makes the story that much more important. Coburn has struck gold, I cannot wait for his next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prep is a beautifully written novel that defys labels. I read the book in four hours and I am a slow reader. With a magnificant story about friendship, love, loyalty and trust the charachters drew me into their world instantly. When the book ended I was sad to leave. This is a novel that captures the essence of high school and the universal trials and tribulations of life brilliantly. Everyone should pick up this book and enter the world created by Coburn's magic. They won't be sorry!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book rocks! After reading through the entire Todd Strasser collection, I was recommended Prep by a friend. It was awesome. Better than my old favorites. Maybe one day there will be a movie! I would be first in line to see it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having grown up and attended one of the NYC private schools, this book was like a trip down memory lane. Jake Coburn's writing makes the reader feel as if they are actually right there alongside the main characters. One of the better books that I have read this year. Highly recommend PREP to those who grew up in NYC or to those who want to see what a modern day Holden Caulfield would be like. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Coburn does a great job letting us get to know his main character...inside and out. There's a sensitivity and a harshness to him- he's balanced in that way, but we're still left with a complex and brooding young man who is forced to make some difficult decisions(even without our help). No matter who you are or where you're from you can find something to relate to in Nick. I was definitely sucked into this story and I look forward to more work from Jake Coburn.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It's got all the good stuff: violence, relationships, change, friends, family, and redemption/reformation in an environment that makes it relevant.