When Rob, the charismatic leader of the senior class, turns the school nerd into Prince Charming, his actions lead to unexpected violence.
Publishers WeeklyAn out-of-state transfer student ascends to alpha male, and his high school clique's plan to make over a social outcast go tragically awry, in what PW called "a suspenseful, disturbing novel." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
KLIATTThis is an intriguing and at times painfully real story of the world of boys in a contemporary American high school that should be owned by every high school library. The boys in the novel work to meet the expectations of their parents, their school, their peers and themselves, and they quickly find themselves in far over their heads. One day, the head of the "popular boy" group at school decides to turn Simon Glass, the quintessential pocket protector nerd, into "class favorite," meanwhile dethroning the ever-popular captain of the football team. His friends go along with the ruse, teaching Simon about the ins and outs of high school stardom and showmanship. Soon, however, the boys find that Simon is savvier than he first appeared, and they are in far deeper than they'd ever imagined. This is a captivating story of privilege, belonging and rank in high school, and should be well received by both girls and boys in high school. The author uses the interesting device of including quotes at the beginning of each chapter that foreshadow events at the end. This technique will capture the interest of even the most reluctant reader, because the clues definitely build the suspense and predict the final tragedy. KLIATT Codes: JS*; Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Simon & Schuster, 215p.,
VOYABy the end of the first paragraph, readers know that Simon Glass was easy to hate and that eventually he was killed. It takes the rest of the book to find out who killed him and why. Told in the different voices of students, teachers, counselors, and law-enforcement officers, the story unfolds little by little until the explosive climax. The reader soon realizes that the narrator of the story, Young, was one of Simon's classmates and is in prison for killing him, but it does not seem possible given the manner in which Young's character is portrayed. It soon becomes clear that Rob, Young's friend and unofficial group leader, is a master manipulator, pulling the strings of all the characters, influencing their actions to fulfill his master plan. In the early pages of the book, the language used by the students, the way they talk to and refer to each other might not seem authentic. After that initial reaction, though, as the suspense begins to build, readers will find it hard to put down the book. Robert Cormier's recent The Rag and Bone Shop (Delacorte Press, 2001/VOYA October 2001) explores the question of how a person can be influenced to do something that they ordinarily would not do. Although the plots of the two books are dissimilar, Giles's novel is also a chilling portrayal of manipulation leading to tragic consequences. Teens in upper middle school and high school will relate to the characters and, sadly, to some of the events in this book. PLB
Children's LiteratureThis dark and suspense-filled teen drama introduces us to Simon Glass, who is a world-class school nerd. Rob, Mr. Charisma, is out to turn Simon into Prince Charming by the end of the year. And it looks like he just might pull off the feat. The narrator, Young Steward, has fallen under Rob's spell and finds himself a pawn in Rob's game. Though he feels a personal repulsion toward Simon, Young goes along with Rob's plans, even sacrificing his own girlfriend in the process. What makes this novel fascinating is that the author lets us know at the outset that something tragic is going to result, but keeps us guessing as to the form the tragedy will take. Each chapter is preceded by a quotation from one of the characters that deftly foreshadows oncoming doom. The device works to perfection, catapulting this novel above those in the mainstream. The disturbingly violent yet satisfying climax lives up to the hype. Gail Giles is an author worth watching.
School Library JournalGr 9 Up-Gail Giles' debut young adult novel (Millbrook, 2002) makes a searing audio production as read by Scott Brick. His cold, calculating delivery style raises the tension on this already tense story about an in-group of high school seniors led by a true sociopath. Listeners can tell from an early scene involving torture of a laboratory animal that Rob means the most chilling sort of trouble for Simon Glass, class misfit. The story's narrator, Young Steward, a member of the clique, makes clear the grip Rob has on all his friends and focuses on his implacable intention to re-make Simon for purposes of his own. The violent frenzy Rob orchestrates ends in Simon's death after he shows signs of self-confidence that Rob can't allow. With a constant edge in his voice, Brick never lets up as he relates this riveting story. One somewhat problematic factor is the series of quotes from classmates and adults that introduce each chapter. As read, they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the actual chapter narrative, leading to momentary confusion. The cover includes a list of chapters contained on each side of the tapes, a nice feature for finding a place in the text version. Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, this is a story with mature themes focusing on the darkest side of human nature but in the most chillingly realistic of modern settings. The compelling writing is enhanced with convincing narration, but its intensity may give pause for thought.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA grimly comic debut novel revisits the dark hell of high-school cliques. The ruling posse at BrazosVale High includes the usual suspects: rich, well-connected "Young" Steward; smooth stud "the Bobster" DeMarco; dumb jock "Coop" Cooper; and the exquisitely cool and charismatic alpha male, Rob Haynes. As a demonstration of power, Rob decides to elevate the school outcast, dweeby Simon Glass, to the heights of popularity. While Simon seems pathetically eager for any crumb of attention, he eventually reveals an agenda all his own. As Simon exposes their hidden vulnerabilities, the agents of Rob's whims explode into shocking violence. While grownups might cavil at the ubiquitous adult cruelty and cluelessness, most teens will nod with recognition at the adolescent characters. Giles skates the fine edge of stereotyping, but manages to give his characters authentic voices; the narrator Young is particularly well realized, with his sardonic wit, his artist's sensitivity, and his tightly wrapped rage. As much provocateur as victim, Simon subtly goads the reader into compliance with his eventual murder. Even though the denouement is known almost from the outset-Young is sent to prison for the crime-this narrative device actually heightens tension as the reader struggles against its awful inevitability. Most intriguing are the quotes heading each chapter, revealing the perspectives of the characters five years later, and which raise questions of justice, mercy, and individual responsibility. A sure-fire hit for book discussion groups, from a writer to watch. (Fiction. YA)
- Listening Library, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
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