cover image The Julian Game

The Julian Game

Adele Griffin, Putnam, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-399-25460-4

National Book Award–finalist (Where I Want To Be) Griffin starts her perceptive novel when Raye and her best friend, Natalya, two "pretty much invisible" sophomores at their elite all-girls school, create a fictional Facebook persona, Elizabeth, who is sexy, bold, and quickly popular online with the boys coveted by the Group, the popular girls at school. When Raye tries to ingratiate herself with Ella, a member of the Group, she gets enlisted in a revenge plot against Ella's ex, Julian. By acting as Elizabeth, Raye gets close to Julian and ends up confessing that Elizabeth is an invention, which brings them closer but turns Raye into Ella's enemy. Ella's revenge is fierce, and when Julian refuses to stand by her, Raye is left to see who her true friends are and what she is made of. Canny use of details makes Griffin's characters fully realized and believable; Ella, for instance, pairs a stereotypical mean girl personality with obsessive-compulsive quirks, an uneasy combination that underscores her unpredictability. There are darker, more powerful stories of cyber-bullying out there, but strong pacing and a sympathetic protagonist ought to keep readers hooked. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)