This engrossing book portrays how easily even ``good'' kids can lose control of themselves and do cruel and horrible things. Seven junior-high-school students (all ``second-bests'') led by narrator Jared and best friend Cheryl form the Shadow Club to get back at the ``unbeatables'' who make their lives miserable. Revenge tastes very sweet when they play humiliating practical jokes on all the school's first-bests, including track star Austin, Jared's nemesis. Any qualms that Jared has about the club get tossed aside when he's acknowledged as president. And, though he calls a temporary halt to the pranks, someone starts playing really dangerous tricks. Events come to a head when Austin is seriously injured. Sure that school weirdo Tyson is the culprit, the Shadow Club captures him. Jared leads the others in beating him up, then almost causes the boy's death. In the thrilling denouement, Jared learns where the blame really lies. Shusterman vividly conveys the overwhelming qualities of violent emotions and chillingly shows how a group of ``nice'' people can become an ugly, vengeful mob. Ages 12-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988 Release date: 05/01/1988 Genre: Children's
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