The Night Room: 3

E. M. Goldman, Author
E. M. Goldman, Author Viking Children's Books $14.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-85838-5
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-14-037253-3
Prebound-Other - 216 pages - 978-0-606-11683-1
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Like the movie The Breakfast Club, this novel is a veritable roll call of teen types-here, a jock, a genius, a tough-minded reporter for the school paper, an overweight aspiring actress, a cute blonde cheerleader-type, a timid outsider and an all-around nice guy-who forge unexpected friendships. Goldman gives the formula a science-fiction twist via an inventive plot device. These high schoolers have been selected to participate in ``Argus,'' a virtual-reality computer program that sends each to a simulation of their 10th high-school reunion. The first session goes pretty much as its creator has planned: Joy finds that her wildest dreams have come true, but she also sees the possible consequences of her obsession with weight. Then a vengeful computer hacker activates an alternate program designed to kill one of the students. Tumbling to the scheme, the teens embark on a sweetly comic (if somewhat misguided) rescue mission composed of equal parts matchmaking and derring-do. Characters start off fairly flat, but gain some appeal: the obnoxious football star reveals his vulnerable side as he initiates his first romantic relationship; gawky Ira learns that his caring is his greatest talent; and so forth. A tempting premise plus plenty of action keeps the pages turning. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
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