Saturday, June 7, 2008

Prey by Lurlene McDaniel

This book was one of the ARCs I brought home from the Texas Library Association conference and the first Lurlene McDaniel book I've ever read. I've heard of McDaniel; I even used one of her books in an assignment several years ago in a children's lit class when I had to compile a list of books on a certain topic. This book is not the type of book McDaniel typically rights, by her own admission in the author note.

Prey is the story of a teacher who seduces her 15-year-old student and proceeds to have a (highly inappropriate) sexual relationship with the boy. The story is told from the point of view of three characters: Lori Settles (the teacher), Ryan Piccoli (the boy), and Honey Fowler (Ryan's best friend, who is secretly in love with him). While this book is definitely a page-turner (I finished it in one day, something I haven't done in ages), it is deeply disturbing. The relationship is consensual, insomuch as a 15-year-old boy can consent to sex with a woman more than twice his age, but that doesn't justify the affair. The whole thing is really very sad. It becomes clear early on that Lori was sexually abused at some point, and Ryan lost his mother tragically when he was very young. There is so much psychology involved, but again, nothing that makes it right.

You know how sometimes one error in a book can throw you off and bug throughout the book? I had this happen in this book. Ryan is 15, a freshman in high school. At one point in the book, his father tells him he should start thinking about college and maybe fill out some apps. As a freshman? Yeah, that happens. And in the same conversation, Ryan tells his dad he has already taken the SATs. Um, no, not as a freshman. I found this really annoying, because McDaniel rights books for teenagers, and has for years, and you would think she would be more in touch with what teenagers actually do, and when. Sorry - I know it's nitpicky, but the author lost credibility with me at that point.

I give the book about 3 stars. I enjoyed it; I couldn't put it down. But the subject matter was disturbing, and, really, the writing style wasn't very good.

If you've reviewed this book, leave a comment, and I'll link to it here.

This book fills the "M" author spot for the A-Z challenge.


Amanda said...

Actually, it's very possible that a freshman might have already taken the SAT. Eric did so in both 7th and 8th grade as part of a talent search program. His was through Johns Hopkins; Texas' is through Duke.

My nephew just completed his freshman year at an Austin-area high school, and he is attending a summer program at Duke that required an application, test scores, essay, and recommendation.

Somer said...

Ok, yes, I do know that in some cases younger students have taken the SAT and there are cases where applications for other programs might be submitted in early high school. What bothered me is that this was presented as the norm. This was an average high school student, not in any honor classes, and it was presented as if all 9th graders should be thinking about these things. Just not realistic, speaking from someone who hears all year long about what junior and senior high school students are going through in terms of college aps.

Carl V. Anderson said...

It sounds really disturbing and I doubt I would pick it up for that reason. I know I've given my wife her books in the past but I don't think this will be one of the ones I spend money on.

Somer said...

Carl - Yes, I found Prey very disturbing. It's definitely not one I would have chosen had it not been free.