Sunday, February 26, 2012

The School for Dangerous Girls

I haven't written too much about grad school, but I'm currently enrolled in the Library & Information Science program at Dominican University. I've generally liked all my classes so far (except for cataloging, which I hated), but I'm really loving my classes this semester. One of the classes is Reader's Advisory, which is teaching us how to recommend books to people. How do you not love that? Every week we read a book in a different genre and post about it on a class blog. Check it out at RA763 if you want to find something new to read. The stuff posted there is mostly about why the book would appeal to someone looking for a book in that genre, so I figured I would write broader reviews on this blog. Warning: thar be spoilers.

Last week we had to read a suspense novel. Think John Grisham and the like. I'm not a big fan of that genre...I mean, I like suspense, but not the OMG THE CLOCK IS TICKING AND THE BAD GUYS ARE CLOSING IN GO GO GO variety. I asked Trench to lend me something, so he gave me an Elmore Leonard book. I was bored in two chapters. I only had a week to read something, so I decided to look for a YA novel with suspense in it. I found "The School for Dangerous Girls" on Novelist, like a good library student. It was perfect for the assignment and I breezed through it on my Nook in a weekend.

Fifteen year old Angela is troublemaker  and her parents have had enough of it. To get her away from her older boyfriend, she gets sent to Hidden Oak, a school for troubled girls hidden away in the mountains of Colorado. Angela makes two very different friends...Carmen, sweet and quiet, and Juin, loud and brash. After the first month, girls begin getting sorted into different groups. The gold thread is for girls that show hope of changing their dangerous ways, while the purple thread is for the girls the school deems to be lost causes (but don't want to just expel because then they would lose their parents tuition money). Carmen is put into the gold thread and Juin is put into the purple thread. Angela walks the line, but ultimately is thought to be just smart enough to go gold. After finding herself with the "good girls", Angela can't stop asking about what happened to the purple thread, which is a big no no, and she's severely punished for it. This just makes her more curious, until she finds a way to contact Juin and finds out that the purple thread girls have been left to fend for themselves Lord of the Flies-style in an abandoned gym, and are punished harshly for trying to escape. Angela, Juin and Carmen figure out the school's dark past and find a way to stage a rebellion and bring down the school for good.

During Angela's counseling sessions, her psychiatrist tells her that her problem is that she only acts on what she wants that minute rather than what would make her happy the next day. If Present Angela wants to run away with her boyfriend, she will do it without a thought to whether Future Angela will be as happy about it. At the end of the book, Angela has to choose between the quick getaway with Juin, which she knows will end badly because there's nowhere for her to go and Juin is kind of crazy, or staying behind with Carmen and helping to bring down the school (or possibly stay trapped there if things go wrong). Angela's arc is complete when she chooses Carmen.

What goes wrong: (SPOILERS HERE!) The girls are winning! Incriminating tapes have been found! The evil staff is outnumbered! Angela takes off for civilization with her sexy love interest (sigh...there had to be a love interest, even though it was unnecessary and lame), and he warns her that this still might not go well. The authorities rarely listen to girls like her, and they might side with the school no matter what's on the tapes. The final chapter is the epilogue, which takes place two months later. Angela and the dude return to the school, where the rest of the girls are.

Angela: It all totes worked out, just like I knew it would! How do you like my haircut?

Seriously, that was the ending. Everything wrapped up beautifully with a big fluffy bow on it, and no one even mentioned what happened to Juin after she escaped with the teacher she seduced (yup).

If I have to give it a grade, I'll give it a B-. If you like YA novels that are fast paced and suspenseful, give it a read.

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