I enjoyed Dead Ends, the only other book by Erin Jade Lange I've read, and I was excited for this book based on its blurb. I think the blurb is a little misleading. If you are going to compare something to The Breakfast Club it better have fun. And hijinks. The funny kind not the terrifying kind. This book is like terror thriller Breakfast Club. That's not to say that I didn't like it. Just that I quickly had to adjust my expectations while reading it.
Sam had a plan. Buy her mom's present for her anniversary of sobriety after another boring evening at work. Her plan falls apart when she is fired from her job for being rude to a customer. From there her night descends into mayhem when she follows a classmate into the woods at a party to retrieve a stolen item. When the cops come to break up the party in the woods, Sam finds herself hiding with Andi (the thief who is a former popular girl), York (a former football player who is drunk and has a major chip on his shoulder), and Boston (York's nerdy genius younger brother). They decide to steal a car to escape and that is only the first in a series of very bad decisions that snowballs into a night of tension, fear, and running for their lives.
Reading this book is kind of like watching a train wreck. It is rather impossible to look away. The writing is what I expected it to be from reading Lange's previous book. The train wreck aspect is what the characters are doing to their lives. It is a series of bad decisions I can totally see a group of four misguided teens making. It is enough to strike fear in the heart of any parent. (I read this on the same day I had to talk a group of tween girls that included my daughter out of jumping off a balcony into snow that wasn't as deep as they thought it was only to find out they went back and did it anyway after I left. So yeah. Fear). I think this is probably going to get a lot of complaints about the characters being stupid and the events unrealistic. I don't think they are. I think the characters are teenagers whose brains aren't fully developed and the way the plot is tied together in the end makes all the strange events make complete sense. The plot is action packed and the pacing well done. Lange allows for a series of breaks and breathing points before sending the reader careening through another series of turns and jolts in the action. It's a roller coaster ride for sure.
The characters make some incredibly ridiculous decisions. They are young. They are scared. They are directionless. I really loved the bond that formed between this ragtag group and came to appreciate each of them individually. They all have strengths and weaknesses. All of them learn and grow (though some more than others). In the official blurb each of the characters is tagged with one of the labels in the title, but it isn't quite as simple as that. Each of them have elements of all four of these in them. At different points in the story they each show a different label as their dominant trait. The way Lange showed this through their actions, conversations, and interactions was really well done. It is a study in how each person is more than one thing and we are formed by experiences even as we sometimes try to outrun them.
This is a good book to give teens who enjoy action and thrills.
Content for those Wary: underage drinking, some language, references to sex
I read an ARC made available by the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, via NetGalley. Rebel Bully Geek Pariah is on sale February 16th.