Jaime Adoff, Author, Jamie Levi Adoff, Author . Dutton $15.99 (192p) ISBN 0-525-47175-8

Adoff's (The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth ) novel brings stereotypes and some gimmicky writing to a familiar plot about deadly violence at a high school. Segments relayed in different formats (first-person accounts, transcripts, free verse) focus on a small cast over the course of one day, the anniversary of the drug-related slaying of an upperclassman. Golden-boy quarterback Ryan's sovereignty at school is undercut by the beatings he endures from his widower dad, the Colonel; these in turn fuel Ryan's hatred of "losers" (in a broad hint to readers, the Colonel warns of danger and reminds Ryan, early on, to take his "just in case " to school). Kurt, the uber-pariah, listens to weird music, attracts every bully within range and threatens, silently, to explode. The most likable character, Tisha, gets bullied, too, because she's half black, half white. Floater, a fat, power-mad former outcast, serves as the craven principal's personal snitch. Enter a news reporter filming live interviews, unaccompanied by school staff; throw in a girl's accurate charge that Ryan has molested her, which will cost Ryan his college scholarship; gather all the players near the principal's office and wait for the "just in case " to go off. Instead of dissolving the story in chaos and destruction, the trigger scene brings about the imposition of justice and order, closing on a sudden note of cheer. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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