Told with second-person narration, Clark’s teen debut immerses readers in a freshman scholarship student’s social dilemmas at an uber-exclusive prep school. Chapters end with classic Choose Your Own Adventure–style scenarios, allowing readers to navigate various plotlines.
Liberally sprinkled with pop-culture references (“In the immortal words of Beyonce, don’t you ever get to thinking you’re irreplaceable”), designer clothing brands (Marc Jacobs, Cartier) and slang (“chunder”), the teens’ voices are potentially appealing, if a bit caricatured. Predictably, many of the possible decisions center around potential romantic interests. “You” will often find yourself torn between your perfect crush, who happens to be your best friend/roommate’s boyfriend, a “Top Five senior stud” wannabe musician and your semi-nerdy best friend, Walter. Few readers will be surprised that choosing Walter results more consistently in happiness, though many may be dismayed that Walter frequently must first undergo a “bona fide hottie” makeover transformation. More troubling is Clark’s casual treatment of substantive issues. The real consequences of a student’s romantic entanglement with a teacher (and the student’s subsequent jealousy-fueled arson) are never addressed. A victim of rophynol-assisted date rape does eventually seek medical treatment, but the psychological impacts of her experience merit only a few brief sentences.
Some teen readers will accept the slightly shallow plotlines and characters thanks to the (relative) novelty of the format; most will give it a miss. (Fiction. 13-17)