As the son of a U.S. Congressman, 17-year-old Jason Weatherby knows all about power and influence.
His father’s connections secured his admission into the prestigious Lambert School for the Gifted, while the geniuses for whom the school was founded have no such clout. As a sophomore, Jason joined the exclusive Youth Leadership Group, and his invitation to join the Chamber of Five in his junior year is the ultimate reward for his father’s generosity. Inclusion in this elite group of upperclassmen comes with a price: Jason must convince an undesirable freshman named Thomas Singletary to leave Lambert, by any means necessary. Until Jason agrees to become a Chamber member and gets rid of Thomas, the other Chamber members ridicule and physically threaten his friend Elvis, one of the novel’s few sympathetic characters. Jason’s own elitism comes across in his first-person narration and may leave some readers questioning both his decisions and Harmon’s choice of protagonist. Jason’s decision to stage a coup d'état during the student council elections sets off a chain of events leading to the novel’s dramatic conclusion, although perceptive teens may unearth the personal vendetta behind the Chamber’s Machiavellian actions before Jason puts all of the pieces together.With a cast of mostly unlikable characters, this novel of privilege and corruption proves uninspiring. (Fiction. 14 & up)