by Coert Voorhees
David Ellison dreams of acting at Juilliard, but he's expected to attend nearby Stanford University, just like all of his classmates at hard-driving Oak Fields Prep. As if wasting his private school education weren't enough, David is also on track to destroy his relationship with his girlfriend, Ellen, when he finds himself falling for his new co-star, Vanessa.
With David's Juilliard audition approaching, and his relationship teetering on the brink of disaster, Oak Fields is thrown into chaos as a mysterious prankster begins attacking the school's highest achievers, determined to sabotage their college aspirations. Anyone who excels is a potential target, and David, the star of every play, could be next.
From the author of the highly praised The Brothers Torres comes a dangerously insightful book about enduring the pressures of high school, surviving the ins and outs of love, and fighting for your dreams, no matter what.
My Rating: 5 /5 Stars
First off I should mention that this is not your usual or fluffy High School story. This is as it warns in the summary dangerously insightful. It IS going to leave you thinking, so if you looking for fluffy fun. This isn't your book.
And after saying this, I might add. I did a lot of thinking. So this is going to be a tad on the long side. Oh and its going to be personal.
Your second chance to up and go….
Well you have been warned. So here we go:
I read this at a recommendation of a friend. After reading "Smart Girls Get What They Want" I was surprised by the different groups at high school and their seemingly huge amount of separation and even disregard for each other . Since I schooled in Switzerland and the school systems really different there, I asked said friend how close the setting of smart girls was to the truth. As way of answer I was told to read this book since it was closest to my friends High School experience speaking in both cases in general.
And this book totally floored me. What an amazing book! Really well written, funny and it hit me straight in the gut.
Ah let me stop babbling and start at the beginning. The book is all about David. This dorky theater geek, with a slightly inflated ego who does seem very sure of what he wants in life. Well at first any way. The book is his journey through those last months in High School David trying to figure out what he should do.
I really liked David, with all his flaws and cluelessness. My absolute favorite was him trying to set up his girlfriend and his love interest to be BFF's and told them they were practically the same person. SUCH a guy thing to do. He does so many clueless guy things, and lets be honest its not only funny, but at time guys really are. David is a really witty and well rounded character, so well written that i felt like i actually know him… The fact that he messed up and then thought learnt from it and picked the pieces up and went with it, made him all the more lovable. His relationship with his father was especially well written.
And here is another fabulous things about this book the characters are really great, really well written. The different parents, teachers, the students all the support characters even if they only mentioned briefly they are believable and realistic.
Colter was a fun character and i was always at first not sure if he was trust worthy because he seemed so out of place, in the midst of those aspiring high schoolers. He's teasing made me laugh so much and I loved how one learns how in some way he was also affected by the pressure all of those youngsters were under.
Vanessa and Elle are great characters, again i think Voorhees has nailed it. I loved the girls dislike for each other. Their snarling and their reactions to David. I think their 'bitchyness' was way more realistic than one often encounters in High School or YA novels. Elle's reaction to feeling hurt, is so so realistic. I can tell you of countless girls i know who would have reacted the same. They would have gone out and gotten vengeance.
The story line is a bit jumpy at time, but again for me that was ok, it was like David was actually telling me the story. So I didn't mind and I throughly enjoyed the Guy POV and Voorhees's style of writing. It's straight forward with a dry wit. Very amusing but it still is also very insightful.
I guess all of these points would have made me give this book at least 4 stars. BUT as i said, after reading the novel, it not only stayed with me it rendered me unable to read another book for several days. I was totally taken by it. The social critic and observations that were in some parts just hinted at but also it made me ponder over being in that boat myself. See I am one of those lucky fools. While I never pondered over being popular or whatever… I didn't know at 17 what I wanted to be. How could I, I was asking myself who am I? And there I had to choose.. unable to say what I wanted I only knew that I didn't want to do Accounting, Economics, Law or Medicine. I watch my whole class go mad trying to secure their future, still not sure what I should be doing. And then was offered a place, just like that. Because I happened to impress them while I was there for Info-week.
Reading this, while as I said the school system was different, the pressure are the same. As a 17/18year old you have to secure a place for your future education and everybody, and most of the parents as well, scramble to get one. At that age you are expected not only to know what you wanna do for the rest of your life, everybody expects you to chose something reasonable. The competition between peers becomes huge just because of that.
For me the artist was a brilliant way of showing what can happened if you put pressure onto a group of people, when the aim is just what is expected rather than the means and everybody blindly follows those expectations.
Voorhees not only written a brilliant story with great characters he managed with his dry wit to point all those issues out while making me go through a whole range of emotions (i was laughing, floored, upset, hopeful) and then at the end left me with hope for Davids future.
A great book that deserved each one of the shinny five stars!