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by Nicole McInnes

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: March 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2741-3
Publisher: Holiday House

A captivating opening and fresh, honest dialogue elevate this tale of teen angst run amok, making for a promising debut.

The novel opens: "Here's a list of what not to do when you're sixteen (and a half) and the guy you just went all the way with keels over from a heart attack on the floor of your sister's house." Who could resist? McInnes does a superb job following the labyrinthine inner logic of a self-involved teen. Brianna Taylor is a cheerleader from the dirt-poor side of the tracks. She attributes her rise in status to her role as head sycophant to her school's lead sociopath and top cheerleader, Jules Hill. The novel shines when Brianna offers access into the snarky, vicious world of teen put-downs. However, the luster wears off around midbook, when Brianna's untethered lifestyle leads to disaster, yet she fails to learn the error of her bullying, selfish ways. While McInnes paces the plot like a mystery, the outcomes ultimately offer little intrigue. Brianna's predicament feels like a surprise only to Brianna.

Though still a little weak on plotting, McInnes keenly captures the nuances of teen dialogue and the duplicity of high school alliances, making her an author to watch. (Fiction. 14 & up)