Author: Adele Griffin (Twitter)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: August 26, 2010
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Personal Copy
All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself-and igniting Ella's rage.As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter.
Raye doesn't fit in in her new school. While most students at the all-girls prep school are there because of their parents' wealthy status, Raye is on scholarship. And, what's more, all Raye really wants is to fit in with a few friends. On a whim, she and her friend, Natalya, create an online profile that embodies everything they're not - witty, popular, sexy and wanted. But their harmless prank goes horribly awry when Raye falls into the clutches of mean girl, Ella. But Raye realizes quickly that things on the internet never really disappear, and sometimes the scheming sorts of bullying are worse than outright treachery.
I bought this book a long time ago and, if I'm being entirely honest, I never really put two and two together to figure out that this is by Adele Griffin, also known as one of my favourite authors. The Julian Game is a cloak and dagger maze of lies, ambition, bullying and the thin, deceitful veil of the virtual world. Giving readers a taste of revenge, a hearty dose of resentment and a topping of malice and melee, this book blows the doors wide open on cyber-bullying. Offering a fast pace, steady drama and characters worth fighting for, The Julian Game plays its cards right.
I had some hesitations when it came to reviewing The Julian Game because most of the reviews I've seen for it average around three stars. Nevertheless, I've been challenging myself to read more contemporary novels, so this one definitely fit the bill. Raye was a great character to make this novel revolve around. Though she's a social outcast, she's never really self-deprecating or pathetic. Rather, she's like every other teenage girl - just trying to find the social circle in which to survive high school. The beauty of her character is that she doesn't really feel the need to stretch the bounds though. Yes, she wishes she could fit in, but she's also content with her life as it is. I did feel as though I lost her slightly when Ella's offer to bring her into the fold started to sway her, but it was believable above all else. Many a teen would do the same thing. Ella was the stereotypical mean girl that we've all heard of, but she kicks it up a notch with her scheming, backstabbing and deceit. She was willing to step on and walk all over anyone to remain at the top. While I've never really encountered an Ella in my life, I know many people who have, and her vindictive nature left an acrid taste in my mouth page after page. I do like that, at times, we feel something other than blind hatred for the girl, but I also like the fact that The Julian Game never actually makes an excuse for her actions. The plot, itself, is decidedly malicious, but it reads well for the young adult crowd. It never felt over-the-top or cloying, and the novel definitely made a case harder repercussions for cyberbullying. While spoken words sting and last for a while, eventually the wounds heal. Bullying on the internet lasts forever, and The Julian Game slyly shows us that it will never truly end once it hits the web.
Overall, The Julian Game was a well-written, quick read about a very relevant topic in our day and age. It's a fast read, and the author's signature prose will capture you from the start, leading you into a thoughtful, articulate and engaging web of lies. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.