cover image Hazing Meri Sugarman

Hazing Meri Sugarman

M. Apostolina, . . Simon Pulse, $8.99 (266pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0610-0

In screenwriter Apostolina's offbeat debut novel, Cindy Bixby goes to college and believes that joining Alpha Beta Delta sorority is a "once-in-a-lifetime chance" to go from loser to popular girl. But sadistic sorority president Meri Sugarman shows her that sisterhood has a price (Cindy not only has to do shots, but also pose as a prostitute). After her initiation, Cindy gets a taste of the good life—she no longer needs to take tests, and when she says she wants to be a cheerleader, Meri makes it happen instantly. But when Keith, Meri's ex-boyfriend, kisses Cindy, it's all-out war between the sisters. This is an intriguing premise—the sorority sisters wield power using "the Hoover File," which contains dirt on everyone, including the dean. And the story, which unspools via Cindy's journal entries, boasts a memorable supporting cast (including Cindy's sister, who becomes a pop star with a dirty song called "Tune My Motor Up," and the heroine's overweight roommate, who diagnoses everyone's psychological disorders, including her own "hypertension, borderline personality disorder, [and] panic attacks"). But while readers will root for Cindy when she and a band of misfits try to tear Meri down, they may be disturbed by some of the plot points (Meri forces Cindy to accuse Keith of date rape, for example). In the end, this is a surprising, dark and ultimately uneven novel, but readers will likely find enough amusing and bizarre material to keep them going. Ages 14-up. (Jan.)