Regina Afton is second in command in the Fearsome Fivesome, the popular, all-girl clique determined to make others’ lives a living hell. She knows how to destroy people’s reputations, scare them into hiding, and make them feel worthless. She also knows how to freeze people out and break their will to live. What she doesn’t know is that one fateful night, and one split-second decision to confide, will strip her of all of her power and status. When she becomes the target of her former friends’ wrath, she learns the hard lesson that what goes around, comes around.
Regina represents that young adult who wants to be good and kind, but is so entrenched in the clique that it’s easier to go along with their cruelty. Knowing that she should stop it, she finds herself, instead, participating for self-preservation. After all, high school is all about survival of the fittest. The only problem with this mentality is that she, like other young adults, compares herself to the queen bee, and rationalizes her behavior by thinking, “At least I’m not as bad as her.” When really, she’s worse.
I really like how Summers showed Regina’s fall from grace and how she went from being the tormentor to the tormented. I think that this twist made the story more effective since the reader finds herself rooting for her only to catch herself and think, Wait, she totally deserves this. The way that Summers creates that internal conflict within the reader is very effective and makes her consider her own views on bullying and “an-eye-for-an-eye.”
My main criticisms come from the fact that Jeanette and Marta, two of the Fearsome Fivesome, are so poorly developed that they’re almost nonexistent. In fact, they were referred to more than they had an actual part in
the novel. As a result, when they finally spoke or did something, it seemed random – almost like the author had to throw them in the story to remind the reader that they’re still there.
My other frustration was the excessive use of “f*ck.” Yes, I know that teens use this word a lot; I’m not naïve. However, when authors use it in a novel, it’s meant to give power behind words (or add intensity to a scene). By
the end of this novel, it was used so much that it lost all of its power and intimidation and became tiresome. As a result, the dialogue grew pretty monotonous when the only clever thing that any of the characters could think to
say was, “F*ck you.”
*Spoilers in this paragraph*
The third thing that bothered me was the portrayal of poor adult presence. I realize that there are workaholic parents, who would rather live in la-la land than take an interest in their children, and there are teachers who
look the other way when kids are being bullied; however, I find it very hard to believe that someone’s car can be stolen and keyed up without a police report ever being filed. Also, as a university supervisor, I’ve been in a lot of middle and high schools – urban, suburban, and rural – and if someone’s locker was filled with rancid hamburger meat, I guarantee that a principal/teacher would know about it, and do something. It seemed that the author removed all adult authority from the novel so that the mean girls’pranks could go unnoticed, and escalate out of control. Granted, some of them definitely would fly under the radar – throwing books in the pool, writing ”whore”on a locker, spreading rumors – due to the rules about hard evidence school officials must possess before accusing anyone, but some of the physical events and logistics simply don’t reflect reality. Not on school grounds, anyway, which is where most of the novel takes place. There are too many legal implications if they were ignored.
Readers who love action-packed, fast-moving plots will love this one. I read this book in a day. To be quite honest, I couldn’t put it down because of my morbid fascination with what mean thing the mean girls would do next. I also loved the fact that Regina fell from grace, but she refused to go down without a fight. Knowing all of the tricks up her former “friends”sleeves, she was able to anticipate events and retaliate a little more effectively than a character who wasn’t in their circle. Still, Summers did a good job of showing Regina’s vulnerabilities, too. No one is invincible, and Regina is no exception.
Again, this novel shows the extremes of bullying and the powers of cliques. For readers who prefer novels that show a more realistic approach to the intricacies (i.e., family dynamics, educators, psychology, peers) of bullying, I would suggest A.S. King’s EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS (2011), Jennifer Brown’s HATE LIST (2009), L.A. Anderson’s SPEAK (2001), Suzanne Phillips BURN (2008), and J.A. Peters BY THE TIME YOU
READ THIS I’LL BE DEAD (2010).
"Well, how many people do you think live perfect lives, son? Aren't we all victims of something at some time or another?" - Granddad Harry (p.
Lucky Linderman lives a pretty
dysfunctional life. He's grown up paying homage to a grandfather who never came home from Vietnam (MIA); he has an emotionally absentee father because he's never gotten over the disappearance of his own; he has a mother who would rather swim laps than face her crumbling marriage; and he has Nader McMillan relentlessly bullying him. His father's solution is to "ignore it" while his mother quietly hopes that the bullying goes away. After Nader's latest assault that leaves Lucky's face mangled goes unpunished, and Lucky's father is moved to inaction, his mother's flight instincts kick in. She's taking him to Arizona to visit family and get away.
When Lucky and his mother arrive in AZ, he finally meets his Uncle Dave and his crazy, pill-popping Aunt Jodi. Things in AZ aren't too different from his life back home; his mother still swims laps, Lucky still dreams about his Granddad Harry, and his Aunt Jodi is convinced that Lucky is suicidal. While trying to dodge Aunt Jodi's helpful interventions to have him committed, he meets Ginny, a beautiful, hair model who suffers from demons of her own. The more that Lucky gets to know about her, and the others, the more he realizes that only he controls his destiny and Nader's days are numbered.
A.S. King takes the emotional struggle of bullying and empowers her charcter in a way that is believeable and
triumphant. As she weaves the story of the missing grandfather throughout, the reader experiences all of the underlying issues that impact Lucky's ability to deal with Nader. I really liked how King doesn't sugar-coat everything. Instead, she shows that everyone has demons, but it's how we face them that has the greatest impact.
Billy Bloom isn't like other boys. Mostly because he's FABULOUS. Unfortunately, students at his new school don't like his gender bender style and decide that one "faggot" at Eisenhower High School is too many. As their hate crimes escalate, Billy takes them in stride until one day the assaults go too far and he ends up broken and in a coma. Surprisingly, he wakes up to find his secret crush, Flip, not only keeping vigil by his bedside, but swearing to protect him.
Everything seems to be going well for Billy after he returns to school and people see that Flip has taken him under his wing until he announces his candidacy for homecoming queen, then, all hell breaks loose. What people consider a joke, at first, turns into a social movement that demands people to stop being cruel to others, and learn to love the "freak" within themselves.
This is a great story for tolerance. Billy is very witty and funny, but I found myself getting frustrated with all of the sidebars and random ramblings, even though I know that that is probably authentic because I have friends who do the same thing - I do the same thing. Overall, the author does a good job of using humor to address the very real issues of hate crimes and intolerance. I feel like the ending was a little too perfect, though. Everything seemed to wrap up in a neat bow, which isn't often the case.
Hannah Baker killed herself two weeks ago, and no one knows why. But, thirteen people are about to find out: thirteen people who unknowingly contributed to her death.
Asher creates an eerie story of a girl crying out for help, and no one listening...until it's to late. As each person receives his package of tapes, Hannah's voice explains their part in the THIRTEEN REASONS WHY.
Although I thought Asher's presentation of this sensitive topic was unique, the story dragged in a lot of places, and some of the "connections" were a stretch - as in, no logical connection. I agree that people need to be careful with their actions; in fact, I'm a huge advocate for anti-bullying, but, the way Asher executed this story, it came across that Hannah only saw what she wanted to see. As a result, she wasn't very likeable, and the reader had a hard time sympathizing with her, not a good thing if the author's trying to
“Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will only kill you.” - Daelyn
Daelyn Rice wants to die. She’s been the target of cruelty since kindergarten, and she wants to stop the pain. She’s tried killing herself before, but failed each time, earning herself the label of “freak” and taunts of, “Next time, do it right,” from her classmates. Oh, she plans to. In fact, she’s given herself 26 days to get everything in order before she steps through the light -permanently.
Peters’ novel deals with the serious nature of bullying and ways that it deteriorates people’s self-esteem to the point that they commit suicide. She shows the reader that everyone plays a part in bullying (whether they say the words, perform the acts, or sit quietly and watch), and, sometimes, the most important difference anyone can make is to show that they care.
"The shooting, which began just as students were preparing for their first class, left at least six students dead and countless others wounded (p. 3)."
What started out as a joke turned deadly when Nick used Valerie and his hate list as a catalyst to murder classmates. Caught in the gunfire and shocked that the boy she loved was responsible, Valerie witnessed each person on their list methodically killed. As he reached his final victims, Valerie lunged for Nick and was shot in the leg, stopping the gunfire and saving Jessica Campbell, the school bitch. Only, she'd lost Nick. As her body crumpled to the ground, she heard the final shot as Nick put a bullet through his brain to stop the rampage.
The novel picks up a few months following the shooting after the hate list is made public and questions surrounding Valerie's involvement are still on people's minds - including her parents. In an effort to be brave, she decides to finish her senior year at the same high school where the shooting took place. As a result, her presence makes people ask questions about bullying, moving on, and who is really to blame. What everyone learns, however, is that every action has a ripple effect, and, sometimes, placing blame isn't so black and white.
This is a book about healing as well as change. It's never too late. flag
Simon Glass is a loser, which is exactly why popular, magnetic Rob Haynes selects him as his pet project. The goal? Get Simon Glass voted class favorite. The reason? To prove Rob Haynes' ultimate power in manipulating people into giving him what he wants. The only problem? Rob underestimated Simon's willingness to play by his rules. Therefore, when Simon learns a devestating secret about Rob and shows that he's in control, Rob can't deal and things turn deadly.
"But Cameron doesn't want people knowing he's hurting. He doesn't think wearing it on the outside will help him any" (p. 25).
Cameron was an intelligent, friendly freshman until he becomes the target of merciless bullying from upperclassmen jocks. Making it their mission to abuse him emotionally and physically, their leader takes it too far when he decides to sexually assault Cameron in the locker room one day. As a result, Cameron decides to retaliate, and what follows leads to multiple arrests and one person dead.
This novel is an excellent example of how bullying can lead to deadly consequences when adults refuse to acknowledge the warning signs and intervene before it is "too little, too late." flag
Someone is making a list of the popular kids that they want dead, and an anonymous "friend" is carrying out the favor. Number one on the list? Lucy Cunningham.
Madison Archer is Lucy's best friend and the last person to see her alive. As she tries to figure out what happened that night, her friends start to disappear one-by-one while she receives cryptic notes that warn her that she might be next.
In this novel, Strasser addresses the issue of bullying and cliques and shows what happens when some kids get pushed too far. The last thirty pages make this book worth the while. flag