21 by Jeremy Iversen


Age Range: 14 & up
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Sparse, artsy language illustrates partier Bret’s 21st birthday. Fraternity tradition requires that Bret celebrate with 21 drinks. Popular and wealthy Bret is unhappy, and heavily segued flashbacks explain: He’s at loose ends academically and his business-focused parents don’t care about him. Alas, though at heart he’s intellectual (a genius astronomer despite his seven-year neglect of scholarship) and a nice guy who volunteers in the projects, Bret’s chosen a path of jackass debauchery in order to be liked. He drinks constantly, treats girls as interchangeable sex objects and supervises the near-fatal beating of a rival fraternity’s pledge. Between drinks, he roams campus, musing faux-poetically on his wasted life and orbiting the observatory that represents his losses. Though Bret’s on the verge of redemption, he falls tragically victim to the inexcusably dangerous Greek system. There ought to be irony in the contrast between the flowing imagery of Bret’s stream of consciousness, the spare dialogue (oddly lacking question marks) and the hyped-up excitement of a fraternity of alcoholics. Instead, there’s only choppy prose for a disaffected protagonist. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-87623-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2005