Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Devil With The Blue Wig On

Erin works past cover prejudice to enjoy The Julian Game by Adele Griffin. Plus: Henry Henry!

Devil With The Blue Wig On

BOOK REPORT for The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 7 Minus 9 Plus 5 Equals 3
Talky Talk: Straight Up with a Side of Chatspeak
Bonus Factors: Sarcastic British Boys, Cyber-Bullying, Borscht
Relationship Status: Just Friends

The Deal:

Raye Archer is the new kid in her posh, all-girls private school, and her only friend is Natalya, whose social currency closely resembles the current balance of my bank account. Raye's pretty desperate to fit in, so when Mean Girl Queen Ella Parker takes notice of her, Raye's panties are all twisted in excitement.

Ella wants Raye's help in getting back at her exceedingly fine ex-boyfriend Julian Kilgarry, so, with Ella's blessing, Raye uses a fake Facebook account to beguile Julian and lead him on. Things backfire, though, as they inevitably will, when Julian and Raye hook up, thereby causing Ella to go apoplectic with fury.

Can Raye escape Ella's wrath? Will Julian and Raye weather this relationship storm? Will anyone in this book stop writing in chatspeak?

BFF Charm: Yay!

To be honest, I was a little hesitant to give Raye my BFF charm at first, because LORD, she is the DUMBEST PERSON ALIVE. Dumber than Amanda Seyfried in Mean Girls. I mean, at least her tits forecasted the weather.

First of all, Raye totally ditches the awesome Natalya for Ella, who is CLEARLY an unhinged crazy person who would eat your face off if she thought she could benefit from it. And THEN she gets soft on Julian Kilgarry, EVEN THOUGH HE IS A GIANT CHEESEHEAD.

But! When Ella's bullying campaign kicks into high gear, I couldn't help but feel bad for Raye and want to stand up for her. And when she takes the bullying in stride and stands up for herself, I'm nothing but proud of her.

Plus, Raye needs a sassy best friend to slap her upside the head and say, "What are you doing? What, what, what are you doing?" Often.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7 Minus 9 Plus 5 Equals 3

I admit it. Julian Kilgarry is a fine piece of landscaping. Tall, dark, handsome, and cheekbones that I imagine rival my current obsession's, Benedict Cumberbatch. So, I mean, just looking at him would probably make my swoon-o-meter start moving. BUT. He's SUCH A DICKFACE. And he's so obviously a dickface that after hearing him talk for more than five minutes, my swoon-o-meter would have quickly sunk all the way back to 0, possibly accompanied with one of those "Ruh-Roh!" noises on my internal soundtrack.

And then, he goes from just plain dickish to dumb and dickish, which I cannot abide, so the swoonworthy scale dropped to an all-time low of -2.

So wherefore the 5 swoonworthy points that saved the day and topped the scale back into real digits? They're all for Henry Henry, so nice they named him twice, who sort of makes me have tingly feelings inside my tummy. I think my swoon-o-meter is buzzing!

Talky Talk: Straight Up with a Side of Chatspeak

So, for the most part, Adele Griffin does a good job of making her teenagers talk like teenagers without being annoying. No stupid introduction of words that don't mean anything, etc.

However. That all changes when the characters are messaging or emailing each other online. Oh, how it changes. The chatspeak - I CANNOT DEAL WITH THE CHATSPEAK. You know what? Maybe Raye and Julian did have an awesome online connection which somehow excuses Julian's jerky behavior slightly, but I wouldn't know! BECAUSE I WILL NOT READ CHATSPEAK. "R" is not a word!

Bonus Factor: Sarcastic British Boys

Oh, Henry Henry. SWOON. You're my second favorite same-named fictional character from The Continent of all time! And you're not a pedophile, so that actually gives you a little bit of an edge over the other one!

You're so awesome - sarcastic, just slightly rude, and bored with almost everyone - that I sort of don't buy the fact that everyone likes Julian more than you. Julian sucks! Henry Henry is the bee's knees!

Bonus Factor: Cyber-Bullying

Well, I mean, cyber-bullying itself is not really a bonus, obviously. The internet is just another forum for teenagers to be assholes to one another, which is frankly the last thing this world needs. I mean, I love you, teenaged citizens of the galaxy; I really do. But you guys are assholes. Don't be upset! All teenagers are assholes! It's just what teenagers do! Being an asshole from age 12 (I was precocious) to well into my 20s is what gave me the guilt complex I needed to start being a nice person and caring about the environment, or whatever!

But, I digress. Considering that cyber-bullying is now leading to suicides in teens, not to mention several criminal court cases, it'd be easy for Adele Griffin to turn a major plot point of this book into a Preaching Moment. But she really doesn't, and handles it quite deftly, and for that I give her props.

Bonus Factor: Borscht

Natalya's family always make borscht for Raye to eat when she comes over! BORSCHT!! True Story: when I was in Russia this past winter, I was really excited for two things: snow and borscht. All my life, all I'd ever wanted was to make a snow angel and eat some borscht, because they always ate it on the classic Nickelodeon cartoon, Doug.

And can I just say that both experiences MORE than lived up to my hopes and dreams! BORSCHT IS DELICIOUS.

Casting Call:

 

Dakota Fanning as Raye

We all know I love me some Dakota Fanning. Slap a blue wig on this girl and let's get to work!

 

Rachel McAdams as Ella Parker

I can't help it! Rachel McAdams has ensured that all Mean Girls will forever emulate and idolize her. I can't wait to feed Ella some weight gain bars.

 

Ethan Peck as Julian Kilgarry

Well, I did say he was hot.

 

William Moseley as Henry Henry

Ha ha, yep! That's right! I cast Peeta and Gale as Julian and Henry Henry! I can't help it; the second I read about HH, my mind immediately supplied William Moseley.

Relationship Status: Just Friends

This book took me by surprise. When I first met its gaze across the crowded cafeteria, I wasn't too impressed. I mean, just look at the cover. Why would I want to get to know someone wearing a blue wig and dishwashing gloves for no apparent reason? I tried that once in university and it just ended badly.

But, despite my previous judgement, this book surprised me by being funny, sweet and hard to put down! People might even think that this book and I are dating, because I've been spotted out and around town with it more than once. And while we may not be headed to the chapel anytime soon (at least not until the cover gets changed), I think we've settled into being really good friends.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).The Julian Game will be available August 26, 2010.

But! I have one copy to give away, so if you're interested in swooning over Henry Henry, drop us a comment below. Make sure to subscribe to comments. A winner will be chosen next week.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K