Regina Afton is second in command in the Fearsome Fivesome, the popular, all-girl clique determined to make others’ lives a living hell. She knows how to destroy people’s reputations, scare them into hiding, and make them feel worthless. She also knows how to freeze people out and break their will to live. What she doesn’t know is that one fateful night, and one split-second decision to confide, will strip her of all of her power and status. When she becomes the target of her former friends’ wrath, she learns the hard lesson that what goes around, comes around.
Regina represents that young adult who wants to be good and kind, but is so entrenched in the clique that it’s easier to go along with their cruelty. Knowing that she should stop it, she finds herself, instead, participating for self-preservation. After all, high school is all about survival of the fittest. The only problem with this mentality is that she, like other young adults, compares herself to the queen bee, and rationalizes her behavior by thinking, “At least I’m not as bad as her.” When really, she’s worse.
I really like how Summers showed Regina’s fall from grace and how she went from being the tormentor to the tormented. I think that this twist made the story more effective since the reader finds herself rooting for her only to catch herself and think, Wait, she totally deserves this. The way that Summers creates that internal conflict within the reader is very effective and makes her consider her own views on bullying and “an-eye-for-an-eye.”
My main criticisms come from the fact that Jeanette and Marta, two of the Fearsome Fivesome, are so poorly developed that they’re almost nonexistent. In fact, they were referred to more than they had an actual part in
the novel. As a result, when they finally spoke or did something, it seemed random – almost like the author had to throw them in the story to remind the reader that they’re still there.
My other frustration was the excessive use of “f*ck.” Yes, I know that teens use this word a lot; I’m not naïve. However, when authors use it in a novel, it’s meant to give power behind words (or add intensity to a scene). By
the end of this novel, it was used so much that it lost all of its power and intimidation and became tiresome. As a result, the dialogue grew pretty monotonous when the only clever thing that any of the characters could think to
say was, “F*ck you.”
*Spoilers in this paragraph*
The third thing that bothered me was the portrayal of poor adult presence. I realize that there are workaholic parents, who would rather live in la-la land than take an interest in their children, and there are teachers who
look the other way when kids are being bullied; however, I find it very hard to believe that someone’s car can be stolen and keyed up without a police report ever being filed. Also, as a university supervisor, I’ve been in a lot of middle and high schools – urban, suburban, and rural – and if someone’s locker was filled with rancid hamburger meat, I guarantee that a principal/teacher would know about it, and do something. It seemed that the author removed all adult authority from the novel so that the mean girls’pranks could go unnoticed, and escalate out of control. Granted, some of them definitely would fly under the radar – throwing books in the pool, writing ”whore” on a locker, spreading rumors – due to the rules about hard evidence school officials must possess before accusing anyone, but some of the physical events and logistics simply don’t reflect reality. Not on school grounds, anyway, which is where most of the novel takes place. There are too many legal implications if they were ignored.
Readers who love action-packed, fast-moving plots will love this one. I read this book in a day. To be quite honest, I couldn’t put it down because of my morbid fascination with what mean thing the mean girls would do next. I also loved the fact that Regina fell from grace, but she refused to go down without a fight. Knowing all of the tricks up her former “friends”sleeves, she was able to anticipate events and retaliate a little more effectively than a character who wasn’t in their circle. Still, Summers did a good job of showing Regina’s vulnerabilities, too. No one is invincible, and Regina is no exception.
Again, this novel shows the extremes of bullying and the powers of cliques. For readers who prefer novels that show a more realistic approach to the intricacies (i.e., family dynamics, educators, psychology, peers) of bullying, I would suggest A.S. King’s EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS (2011), Jennifer Brown’s HATE LIST (2009), L.A. Anderson’s SPEAK (2001), Suzanne Phillips BURN (2008), and J.A. Peters BY THE TIME YOU
READ THIS I’LL BE DEAD (2010).