If we believe every teenage film ever, then Anika is the quintessential American high school student, fortunate enough to be a part of the popular clique but knowing that with one false move she could be thrown to the wolves. Anika serves under Becky Vilhauer, the Queen Bee/Bitch…anyone else picturing Regina George right now? Yes, essentially this book is just a slightly different slant on Mean Girls with the protagonist stuck in a cycle of hate but helpless to anything about it. She is a part of the popular world and the only thing scarier than being a part of it is…well…not being a part of it.
If you strip the story right back then it may have been an enjoyable book. However, my biggest problem with this novel is its narrative style. I found the protagonists voice telling the story extremely irritating! So much so that I nearly didn’t finish the book, it actually grated on me and didn’t feel real or genuine. I wonder how much better the book had been if it hadn’t been written from the point of view of one of the most annoying characters I have come across. The worst thing is that it really felt like somebody impersonating a teenager rather than an actual teenager talking to me, it felt completely out of touch.
In fact, the entire novel felt out of touch. I honestly had to check the year it was published because I convinced myself it must have been written in the eighties, nineties at most. There didn’t even seem to be a mobile phone in sight! Ok so yeah teenage novels don’t need to have mobile phones but nothing about it felt…modern? Not sure that’s the word I’m looking for…it just wasn’t right. I think that all novels should be wary of using pop culture references because it can easily date a book. The pop culture in this book though, at least for me, wasn’t relevant or even cemented in the present…it dated the book to before it had even been written…work that one out.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad book I guess. It was just a bit of fluff, a throw-away, easy reading book. Due to its extreme fluffiness there was a moment that genuinely took me by surprise but mostly it just made me shrug. It didn’t excite or offend me, it just was what it was. Good for an easy read, bad for engaging the imagination.