A retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray set in a New England prep school.
There may not be many teens acquainted with Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, but there are plenty who are familiar with clichéd mean-girl books. At predominately white Chandler Academy, Heidi rules the social roost. When roommate Biz’s pimply cousin, Doreen Gray, transfers to Chandler, Heidi oversees her makeover. Biz’s touched-up photo on the school social media site makes Doreen look glamorous, and soon Doreen has traded places with the image. Under Heidi’s tutelage, Doreen surrounds herself with snobbish friends, collects designer bags, and tramples on boys’ hearts. There’s as much hedonism here as in Dorian Gray, but the plot focuses to a surprising extent on Heidi’s preoccupation with male approval as it wanders through the thematic territory of both Pygmalian and Heathers. According to malicious, blackmailing Heidi, it’s “important to be waited for, waited upon, but never to wait for anyone. It [makes] a woman seem desperate, like less of a prize.” The narrative is full of 19th-century language (“I cannot tolerate this inconstancy. Resolve yourself”) oddly juxtaposed with more pedestrian prose: “then Doreen would tell him, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck himself.”
While some might find pleasure in the ironic tone of this novel, overall it’s trifling at best. (Fiction. 14-17)