21

Jeremy Iversen, Author . Simon Pulse $6.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-689-87623-3

Iversen's debut novel has a familiar-sounding setup: Bret Stanton seems like a typical fraternity guy, with his good looks and party lifestyle, but through flashbacks readers see a misfit kid who was willing to sacrifice everything to fit in. Bret is turning 21 the same night as his fraternity's big party, and he is determined to live up to the Pi Alpha Kappa (PAK) "tradition" of drinking 21 "units of alcohol" in one night. But as the evening wears on and Bret gets progressively drunker, events start to spin out of control: he has sex with a random freshman girl, evades police when a prank goes wrong and stands by as his PAK pledges kick and humiliate a rival who later requires hospitalization. As night becomes morning, he tries to break out of the shell he's created for himself, but it may be too late. The exchanges between the characters have an empty, but realistic ring (a girl at the party complains that she got fired from Pacific Outfitters for having "bad PPT" or "pants per transaction"), and readers will be shocked by the depth of callousness in the world that Bret has chosen to embrace—from the colored beer cups his brothers use to rank partygoers, to a horrific rape, to betraying their friends. The plot takes some creative turns, but frequent flashbacks derail the momentum, and some readers may ultimately be turned off by the author's heavy touches, especially the over-the-top finale. Ages 16-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4391-2171-9
Prebound-Other - 978-1-4176-6291-3
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