Let me start by saying this: I am not putting up a cover comments section because I want to rave about it in depth. Right now. This cover is just amazing. It makes me want to eat healthier and exercise more just because I want to be able to look at it again in the morning. Not only does it look really cool, but it's completely plot oriented! That's right, it actually has something plot relative. In fact, the entire thing is plot relative. Even the title font. I'm practically oozing out of my seat in a puddle of awe. But does the book stand up to its awesomesauce cover? Heck yeah!
Raye Archer recently lost and gained a few things: her mother died and left her and her father to recuperate, and eventually adjust to an almost-stepmother named Stacy who is pretty cool. She got lucky enough to be accepted into an ace-scholar program at a school that trims students for Ivy League. And she just doesn't really know what to do with herself. Raye and her best friend decide to make an online alter-ego named Elizabeth, to fool boys from the adjacent boys school and just have some fun. Ella, the Designated Popular Bitch (DPB), squirms her way into finding out about Elizabeth, and uses Raye and her alter ego to concoct a plan.
The victim: Julian Kingberry (aka crazy hot guy whom everyone knows about - yes, even Raye) The motive: Revenge The plan: Sweet, online seduction. Ella and Raye take some risque pictures of 'Elizabeth' (Raye with an electric blue wig and other accessories) and send them to him...All the while, Raye is talking to Julian behind Ella's back. When she gets to know him, and develops a kind-of major crush, things can only get more complicated as Ella's itty-bitty revenge snowballs into a plan reminiscent of the most cruel villains on Saturday-morning cartoons.
Character wise, you will be addicted. Raye is a startlingly intelligent personae that manages to actually show off the intelligence and still be a teenager. Ella is the classic popular chick...until you dig deeper. Her depth as a character in terms of her odd-number obsession and her cynical outlook on life made for some interesting thoughts. Julian was actually a well-done popular jock, and I was strung right along with Raye as she got to know him. I knew he was bad-news for her and I still liked him! The secondaries are also pretty fun, if not appearing much. I liked the idea of naming a British exchange student Henry Henry and felt it was really funny. Don't ask me why, but it appealed to my sense of humor...and his characterization wasn't bad, either, though I would have liked to see more of him.
The writing and plot fit together just as perfectly. I never once felt like I was getting the short end of the stick. For only being two hundred pages, it really packs a punch, getting in a bunch of great events that revolve around the internet, true relationships, and the ability to be logical in your teenage years. Internet plots easily move into contrived areas, but the more updated take on Facebook and social networking kept it surprisingly fresh. It was also nice to see something so real in a YA novel. Sometimes the internet is really fictionalized, and not in a good way. Raye gets brutalized by using the pictures she took, and it sends a good message to teenagers about monitoring themselves and their friendships.
The Julian Game is the work of someone who knows their craft. The plot's tight, the characters are sharp and dimensional, and the premise is unmatched. If you like any number of YA genre types, you'll find yourself magnetized to this read; be it for the connection to Facebook, the fish-out-of-water story involving a popular girl and one normally in the shadows, and the quest for gaining a love that is at first unattainable. The combination makes for a gripping story that will leaving you wanting to read more of Adele Griffin, and that's the one of the best types of books.
Rating: Five Stars
Causes Adele Griffin Supports
Brooklyn Historical Society
Harlem Village Academies
Boys Latin School of Philadelphia