cover image THE RULING CLASS


Francine Pascal, . . S&S/Wiseman, $14.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-689-87332-4

Pascal (the Sweet Valley High series) jumps onto the Alpha Girl trend that fueled books like Gossip Girl and the recent movie Mean Girls with this novel set in a wealthy high school outside Dallas. Most of the story unfolds through the points of view of two characters (indicated by different typefaces)—ultimate hanger-on Myrna Fry, and feisty Twyla Gay, a cash-strapped new student. Another voice occasionally intrudes, that of Jeanette Sue, leader of the school's most exclusive clique ("It's all about Jeanette Sue," says Myrna), the Ruling Class, known as the RCs. Twyla Gay becomes a favorite target for the RC's nasty pranks partly because of her unfashionable clothes, but mostly because she appears to have piqued the interest of Jeanette Sue's hunky ex-boyfriend. After the clique lures Twyla Gay to a deserted mall, where she narrowly escapes being raped, the girl vows to seek revenge and becomes the leader of a ragtag group of outcasts bent on overthrowing the social order. Unfortunately, this thread may not be convincing to readers; Twyla Gay's tactics (e.g., greasing a dance area with lip gloss so that Jeanette Sue takes an embarrassing tumble) seem like child's play compared to Jeanette Sue's chilling ability to turn ordinary teens into an ugly mob. Still, despite some sketchy plot elements, it may be hard for readers to put this novel down, thanks to its fascinating subject matter and catchy, fast-moving narrative voiced by all-too-recognizable teens. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)