Alex Flinn, Author . HarperCollins/ HarperTempest $15.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-623847-0

Heavy-handed writing undermines Flinn's (Breathing Underwater) stated goal for her second novel, namely, to "stimulate discussion" among teens about why kids commit violent acts. When geeky ex-homeschooler Paul Richmond enrolls as a sophomore at an exclusive Miami private school, he is immediately targeted for harassment. Living in a shabby apartment with his needy, newly divorced mother (her job in the school office lowers Paul's tuition), Paul would feel miserable even if the jocks weren't calling him "faggot" and trashing his locker. Then popular Charlie Good suddenly befriends him—outside of school, that is—and Paul seems willing to do anything to stay in favor. First Paul vandalizes mailboxes, then he hacks into the school computer system to change Charlie's transcript. Charlie's hold on Paul intensifies until he persuades Paul to plant a bomb in the school. Characterizations are stock, and no one, particularly not the all-powerful Charlie, seems convincing. The boys' reasons for wanting to blow up the school remain murky, and many of Flinn's devices, like the school sermons that parallel the plot, are contrived. For a more developed treatment of similar themes, readers may appreciate Gail Giles's Shattering Glass, reviewed Feb. 11. Ages 13-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/20/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 240 pages - 978-0-7569-6300-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-0812-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 4 pages - 978-0-8072-0811-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-06-447371-2
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-58258-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-58259-1
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-06-220821-7
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