cover image The Cutest Girl in Class

The Cutest Girl in Class

Quentin S. Crisp, Justin Isis, and Brendan Connell. Snuggly, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-943813-33-9

At the heart of this antic novel set in a vaguely realized New Jersey, there’s a serious critique about the objectification of women and the complexity of male-female relationships. Designer Zak Landers, who admits to being “more at ease around inorganic women,” is the owner of Sooki, a sex doll whom he treats as his girlfriend. Sooki is coveted by like-minded members of a doll-collecting subculture who scheme to “dollnap” her with the help of Zak’s double-crossing friend Thad, and the book’s three authors use this plot thread to intertwine subplots involving a budding romance between teenagers Clive and Marybeth, Clive’s strained relationship with his doll-coveting father, and Thad’s awkward overtures to Marybeth’s older sister, Angela. The narrative alternates scenes of comic absurdity with serious moments of character introspection, especially those involving Clive, whose innocent reflections on the emotions stirred by his first love stand out in sharp relief against the silly behavior of the more “mature” adults. This wry satire offers more than its loopy premise would suggest. (Apr.)