By Megan Abbott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
I read some really great reviews on this book and put it on my to-read list fall of last year. It sounded great. A story about a mysterious disease that is sweeping through a school, affecting only girls. The hysteria caused by the unknown, and the swooning, dramatic symptoms that seemingly affect all the girls in this school, but one—the one girl who finds herself at the center of all the crazy.
The girls in this book were painted to only be weak, mindless drones, content with following the latest craze; they were all sex-starved and a little crazy. It made me uncomfortable reading it—not because they were teenagers having sex. What made me uncomfortable with this book was that, for most of the book I felt like this was a warning tale to all girls that as soon as they have sex, they’ll go crazy, the world will go crazy around them, and it’ll be their fault. There was that underlying vibe, even if it wasn’t intended.
So putting the negative view of girls aside, the males in book aren’t much better. The father just seems like an idiot—when it comes to understanding girls, because girls are crazy and don’t make sense as soon as they hit puberty. The brother was also a mess—because having sex with all those girls who just appear at his door, offering themselves up to him, has finally made him feel uncomfortable. Girls are confusing. We’re still focusing on how girls are confusing and, underneath it all, awful because they are girls. Let’s be honest, it’s not girls who are confusing—it’s teenagers in general! How can they not be confusing? They barely understand themselves and are struggling to get a firm grip on who they are, what the world means to them, and how they fit into this world. Heck—life in general is confusing and people are confusing. Even though blame was at one point thrown haphazardly at the boys, the girls came out looking like terrible people--because they were girls.
All in all, I was interested in finding out what started the illness in the first place, but was disappointed in the revelation, although it was somewhat obvious (see above: negative view of crazy teenage girls, who are terrible people because they are girls). I had been hoping I was completely off base. I wasn’t. The characters for the most part are flat and unbelievable, fitting nicely into clichés that help to explain part of their characters. The worst is the father and I found myself skimming over much of his section (which was a lot).I don’t recommend this book to anyone and I will not be reading anymore of Meg Abbott’s work—unless you can convince me that it’s worth it.