3.7 56
by Nick McDonell

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From The Catcher in the Rye, to The Basketball Diaries, to Less than Zero, there have been books that captured the soul of a generation. Now comes a novel for the new millennium — Twelve, a chilling chronicle of urban adolescence that has already created an international sensation. This is not a coming-of-age novel because these kids…  See more details below


From The Catcher in the Rye, to The Basketball Diaries, to Less than Zero, there have been books that captured the soul of a generation. Now comes a novel for the new millennium — Twelve, a chilling chronicle of urban adolescence that has already created an international sensation. This is not a coming-of-age novel because these kids never had a childhood; rather it is a rare look into a sealed world rendered with authority and wit. Set in Manhattan between Christmas and New Year's Eve, from the housing projects of Harlem to the penthouses of Park Avenue, it is the story of White Mike, a seventeen-year-old prep-school dropout turned drug dealer, and his privileged peers. White Mike is a loner and an anomaly: he doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and he never uses drugs. His mother is dead and his father is depressed — but they're hardly more absent than the other parents who are off on holiday in Bali or business in Brussels, leaving hired help to look the other way while the kids of Twelve stay home in their multimillion-dollar co-ops and town houses, partying with drugs and sex and escalating violence. Access to cash is a given here and the kids of Twelve have it all; Chris and Claude and Hunter and Laura have the best, and most, of everything, but are constantly looking for something more exotic, and more dangerous: like the new designer drug, twelve. From page one, the seventeen-year-old author, whose clarity and skill far exceed his years, sets an icy pace toward an apocalyptic climax. In the penultimate party scene, when we thought we couldn't be surprised, we are shocked. And throughout the book, where there is an excess of everything but hope, we are filled with that very emotion as White Mike struggles for nothing less than his soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"White Mike" dresses in an overcoat and lives with his dad on Manhattan's Upper East Side (his mom died of breast cancer not too long ago). The 17-year-old doesn't smoke, doesn't drink and doesn't do drugs. He dropped out of high school and now sells drugs pot and an Ecstasy-like upper called "twelve" to the city's moneyed teens. In this shocker of a first novel, McDonell who was 17 when he wrote it carries readers through White Mike's frantically spinning world, one alternately peopled with obscenely wealthy teenagers who live in gated townhouses with parents rarely in town and FUBU-clad basketball players in Harlem. In terse, controlled prose, McDonell describes five days in White Mike's life during Christmas break. He introduces a host of characters, ranging from Sara Ludlow ("the hottest girl at her school by, like, a lot") to Lionel ("a creepy dude" with "brown and yellow bloodshot eyes" who also sells drugs), writing mainly in the present tense, but sometimes flashing back in italics. His prose darts from one scene and character to the next, much like a cab zipping down city streets, halting quickly at a red light and then accelerating madly as soon as the light turns green. And although it brims with New York references e.g., the MetLife Building and Lenox Hill Hospital this is really a story about excess and its effects. The final scene, at a raging New Year's Eve party, will leave readers stunned, as well as curious as to what might come next from this precocious writer. (July) Forecast: A blurb from Hunter Thompson and buzz about McDonell's age and subject matter should kick sales reasonably high for this slim first novel, rights for which have been sold in seven countries. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In the world of wealthy New York, everyone pretty much knows everyone else. They belong to the same clubs, go to the same schools, and have the same drug dealers. Twelve follows a group of rich, well-educated teens and their connection to White Mike, a blond prep school graduate who has decided to defer going to Harvard for a year and deal drugs to his peers instead. McDonell's sparse prose captures the disassociation of this teen social set and reveals how the risks taken by these high achievers spiral into violence. Set in the days leading up to New Year's Eve, Twelve puts on display the absent parents who leave for Europe with no forwarding number, the girls who use their sexuality as casually as they change clothes, and the ease with which these teens can get drugs to dull their emotional pain. Author Nick McDonell wrote Twelve at the age of 17 and the book has an authentic voice that will strike a chord in teen readers while horrifying adults unaware of this underworld. Libraries with audiences with a taste for realistic fiction and prep school libraries with students who can relate to these issues would do well to add this work to their collection. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Grove, 244p.,
— Courtney Lewis
Library Journal
Authors keep getting younger; this one is only 17 and a student at a private high school in New York. Predictably, he goes after the spoiled rich kids who are going after the newest drug in town, called twelve. Let's hope that this acquisition was inspired not by sensationalism but by good writing. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The New York Times
Mr. McDonell finds an authentic voice. . . . He gives us a palpable sense of the privileged but spiritually desolate world that his characters inhabit, without ever condescending to them, and he gives us some digitally clear snapshots of life in the upscale ZIP codes of millenial Manhattan. —Michiko Kakutani
Kirkus Reviews
Debut novel penned by a 17-year-old private high-school student in Manhattan. If you liked Harmony Korine's film Kids, you'll definitely be into McDonell's story. Set entirely in New York, it follows the closely linked but vastly different worlds of Harlem and the Upper East Side, where the accidents of birth and geography create problems that few outsiders might guess at. The central character is White Mike, a very bright but alienated prep-school kid who has dropped out to become a drug dealer. Mike has never so much as tried marijuana himself, but he likes the freedom drug money brings him, and he has a very ready market among his old classmates-a weird bunch indeed. There's Charlie, who pawns his mother's jewelry to buy guns. And Jessica, a debutante who trades sex for drugs. Claude is into guns, too, and it seems that most of the rich kids of Park Avenue have gangsta' fever: The coolest among them speak in black slang and like to hang out in neighborhoods way uptown even when they don't need to score spliff. Hunter McCullough, for example, comes up to Harlem with White Mike to shoot hoops at a gym called the Rec-but one night he gets into a fight with a kid from the projects named Nana. Too bad for him, too, because when Nana and Charlie are found dead one night on 117th Street, the cops arrest Hunter (who still has Nana's bloodstains on his clothes). White Mike, whose mother died of breast cancer not long before all this, is pretty demoralized no matter how you look at him, but he has enough heart left to figure out that Hunter's not the man. But, like, what can you do when everything's so wickedly messed up? Not bad for a by-now 18-year-old, but still far from good: McDonell should stay in school a few more years.
From the Publisher

“As fast as speed, as relentless as acid.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Nick McDonell is the real thing, a powerful young writer with the look of a dangerous freak and very sharp teeth. The ratio of age to talent is horrifying. His trick is he writes the truth. I'm afraid he will do for his generation what I did for mine."—Hunter S. Thompson

“An astonishing rush of a first novel, all heat and ice and inexorable narrative drive…A pleasure to read, a horror to contemplate, a real achievement.” –Joan Didion

“McDonell is an authentic talent…His novel will endure as a snapshot of his generation as surely as Less Than Zero did of the eighties.” –Stephanie Merritt, The Observer (London)

“[McDonell] renders Manhattan’s cosseted Upper East Side with both the casual authority of an insider and the wry distance of an observer….Impressive.” –Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review

“McDonell, like the young Jim Caroll, displays a frightening acuity in his astonishing debut.” –Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

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Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

Joan Didion
An astonishing rush of a first novel, all heat and ice and inexorable narrative drive -- the kind of novel you finish and immediately read again, just to see how it works. And it does work -- a pleasure to read, a horror to contemplate, a real achievement.
Hunter S. Thompson
Nick McDonell is the real thing, a powerful young writer with the look of a dangerous freak and very sharp teeth. The ratio of age to talent is horrifying. His trick is he writes the truth. I'm afraid he will do for his generation what I did for mine.
Richard Price
In Twelve, Nick McDonell displays a remarkable arsenal of gifts -- wit, near poetic concision, a terrific eye and ear -- all of which add up to the Great Gift: the ability to tell a story, in such a way, that once engaged, the reader will find it near impossible to put the book down.

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Twelve 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ok for all you adults saying it was a bad book, its only cuz you dont understand it. i woudlnt recommend this book to an adult, it's way over your heads. For teens, though, it's one of the best books ever. Teens can connect to it on a totally different level than adults or lil jr high kids. Also, it's got a great story line and is true to wat life is today. trust me, if you're a teen, you'll love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. The characters were very flat and had absolutely no personalities. The chapters were extremely short - 98 in all and the book is less than 250 pages. The title is a bit deceiving because 'twelve' was only mentioned a handful of times and only one character used it. I think all the praise around this book is due to the author being so young. Big deal! So he proves he's got a good vocabulary and is a bit more observant than your average teen. This book might appeal to teens and those who have very short attention spans, but for people who want a good read...definitely don't waste your time with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really, really wanted to like this novel. the author was featured in entertainment weekly, and its comparisons to catcher in the rye really made me interested. now i see how undeserved those comparisons are. the things the characters do... i would say that they are out of character, but the characters are never fully developed... things just happen. i think in a few years, we are all going to see just how dated all of the imagery in the novel is... a nelly song that no one even listens to now is prominently featured, as are constant references to 'hip' clothing lines. that was the beauty of the catcher in the rye... i read it in high school (just 2 years ago), and it still made sense even though it was set in the 1950s. twelve does not make sense now, and it definitely wont in a few years... and the ending was horrendous!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i just read this book, and it is very, very poorly written. one would think that with all the editorial help that the author's connections get him (his parents are rich and famous in the publishing industry; hunter thompson, joan didion, and richard price are all friends of the family; his godfather OWNS GROVE ATLANTIC, the publishing house which published the book) the book would be a lot better than it is. mcdonell can't even write a creative sentence--the structure for almost every single sentence in the novel is the same. noun, verb, object. noun, verb, object. and so on. and the drug trip (in which the author neglects to mention which drug his character is tripping on, apparently because he doesn't have any experiences of his own to draw on) is spectacularly unconvincing. i have to think that hunter thompson's blurb must be slightly sarcastic.
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Great book, easy and quick to read. Makes you really think about what goes on outside of your own world. Author did a great job tying the story lines together.
Skylars_Jess More than 1 year ago
As much as people will rave and rave about how good of it, I know better. I've read a lot of books and this does not come close to the good ones I have read. There is no real plot, nothing to keep you guessing on where the story is going to take you next. Chacters are all over the place and very undefined. I haven't gotten to the ending yet but since there is no real plot the ending is just going to be a dead end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the plot was really good and it was worth reading. But the part I like most about books is getting to know the characters which the author didn't offer in this novel. The ending was also very abrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was first intrigued by this book because of the movie trailer. The movie trailer sort of seemed like an episode of gossip girl but more in depth with drugs. But anyways this is my favorite book of all time. I recommend this to anyone and everyone! The ending was surprising. I wont give anything away but it was totally unexpected. I cannot wait til the movie comes out.
clairebear7190 More than 1 year ago
I have read many books about drugs and dealers, but this one is different. This goes into the past of the dealer, White Mike, and looks at what made him into the shut off person he is now. Chace Crawford is going to play him in the upcoming movie and I am really interested to see how it turns out. The style the book is written is is interesting and keeps you on your toes. I recommend this to anyone looking for a thrilling book with a twist at the end. It is a really easy read that you can do in 2 days.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I started out reading this book for a class project (we had to select our own books from a library) and ended up finishing it the night I got it! I'm not really into all the books about drugs and what not, but this book was REALLY good and kept me reading! The ending is very shocking but also very believable and I would quite highly recommend this book to anyone between the ages of 16 and 30! (Actually, I think I've already recommended it to all of my friends!) Immediately after I finished this book, I looked online to see if there were any other books by Nick McDonell and I'm starting the second one today. If you enjoy reading books about crazy kids you'll love this. If you enjoy reading in general, you'll love this. And if you need something to read quickly without trying to analyze it, you'll love this. Twelve is one of the best books I've read in a while!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book a year ago while I was on vacation and I read it right away. I figured that it'd be fun, since I'm a sucker for those 'violence, drugs, and sex' books, and I was right. I really enjoyed reading it. It's vivid and energetic. The story just sort of...feels as dirty and messed up as all of the characters are. I don't really know how to describe it. The fact that McDonell could produce something like this at such a young age makes me crazy with envy. I'm 17, and all I've done is a couple short stories and innumerable essays. Hunter S. Thompson and Joan Didion are talented writers, and if they speak so highly of it, no body should argue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book a impressive coming from someone so young. The characters are a bit premature, but overall the book gives a good overall concept of the modern teens of today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this is a good a$$ book it was easy to go along with .and im one of those with no patience
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tour de force! Excellent book. Fresh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I used to hate reading till I found this amazing book, the stuff that goes down in this book is something I can really relate to in my child hood.. and although I am only fifteen years old I am forced to reach adult hood at a young age. This is by far the best book i've ever read. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down I read through this book at least five times the first month I had it. I would love to read some more of mcdonells literature if he writes anymore. I think every person should read this book it really was a great story.