Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: 1/5/2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Blurb(GR): Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.
Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.
Wow. Well, I can’t say that this was enjoyable. It made me feel uncomfortable, disgusted, and horrified. The ending, while maybe a bithopeful, was pretty bleak. But still I say, Wow. This is an extremely unflinching, harsh look at the twisted dynamics of teenage girl “friendship,” and a much more comprehensive picture of the mean-girl psyche than other one-note portrayals I’ve seen.
Regina Afton is the beta to Anna Morrison’s alpha in Hallowell High. She’s been the messenger, the lookout, the tormentor, the bully. She’s ruined the social lives of friends and enemies alike, all on the whim of Anna. But when she finds herself the subject of vicious rumors, Anna cuts her out, and she becomes the target.
It would have been easy to paint Regina as the unwitting accomplice, or the mean girl with a squishy soft heart of gold trapped inside, but the author never lets that happen. She challenges the reader with Regina’s rage, her spines, and her cowardice. Regina is a damaged girl, who really doesn’t know how to deal with her tormentors except through violence and revenge. It would also have been easy to write off Regina as a complete bitch, unworthy of sympathy, but that never happens either. This is a story about guilt and forgiveness, and about coming to terms with the ugly things that you have done.
It was extremely hard to watch Regina fall right into Anna’s hands, to be outwitted time and again. But it was her lack of flair that also gave me hope for her. I’m not sure that I believed, at the end, that Regina was going to be okay, or that the romance was even a healthy one. This book never takes the easy road; there’s no neat and pretty ending for these characters. I really respect Ms. Summers for writing it that way. It rings true, however difficult it is to read.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Taylor Swift – Mean