Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What we're reading: Brutal Youth

Reference librarian Daryl, who has reviewed teen books for us here before, gave me an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of Brutal Youth, by Anthony Breznican, to read. He praised it, so I had high expectations. They were met, but...with some reservations.

I would actually give the book five stars for both the writing (literary) and the storytelling (mesmerizing), but…the story and characters are so disturbing that I had trouble giving it that kind of praise, from sheer discomfort!

This book is Lord of the Flies (but with girls as well as boys), set in a Catholic private school in Pennsylvania. If you are a YA reader, think of it as a more adult version (for the amped-up meanness and violence) of The Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney. The students run rampant; the teachers either turn a blind eye, pick the wrong side because they're not paying attention, or are as mean and cruel as the students; and the so-called "coming of age" factor is at a considerable price for everyone involved.

I didn't so much enjoy reading it as remain fascinated and unable to put it down. It's definitely powerful, and in some ways brilliant, but also stark and frightening. Brutal youth, indeed. Recommended only for certain mature high school students!

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