Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sex is the worst thing you can do, just beyond showing your stomach, or Prey

Ever since I heard about Prey (published 2008), Lurlene's newest book, I have been dying/terrified to read it. The other day I met up with my book biz friend Kristy, who presented me with a copy, an act I'm assuming was the first time Kristy saw anyone accept such a gift with so much gleeful enthusiasm. Thanks again, Kristy!

I have so much to say here, so let's just jump right into the synopsis so you guys know why I was so ready/not prepared in the least:
A teacher is supposed to impart a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge. It’s a bit different with Ms. Lori Settles. All the kids are talking about how hot she is–and she is especially interested in Ryan Piccoli. When she starts giving Ryan extra attention, he’s feeling more than happy–at first. He’s used to being the class clown, but really he’s a loner. One day after school, the friendship with Lori Settles goes farther than he ever expected. She’s his teacher. She’s at least twice his age. Intimacy with a teacher is wrong, yet it feels so good in every way. Soon, Lori is making demands and Ryan begins to feel overwhelmed, but Ryan refuses to even admit anything is going on. Something immoral is going on and before too long the choices made will change lives forever.
Um YEAH. This isn't a joke; this is totally what this book is about, you guys. YOU GUYS.

Would you like to see the cover? Oh, please, I know you would. Let's do it!

I was looking over this cover with my friend Mallory who's a graphic designer, and she's all "IS THIS A SCI-FI BOOK WHERE SOMEONE GETS EATEN?" which, seriously, between the title and that creepy red silhoette, I'm not surprised Mallory came to this conclusion. We were also incredibly blown away by the typeface chosen for the title; it's a child's handwriting. A CHILD'S HANDWRITING OMG. It's not like the kid is six! He's fifteen going on sixteen. Way to make this even MORE inappropriate and gross, graphic designers. Mallory and I are ashamed of you.

So, seriously, I have no idea why this is a direction Lurlene decided to move in. Do you? Does this have anything at all to do with kids with cancer? I'm not saying once you pick an interest as a writer that you can't branch outside, but Lurlene's been writing about dying kids for over twenty years now, with little seeming desire to talk about anything else (except maybe a dying boyfriend or parent or sibling, yeah?), so this is weird.

One interesting thing I really thought about a decent amount while reading the (surprisingly tolerable) Briana's Gift was that had I not known Lurlene's history, I might have enjoyed it even more. Hey, I'm not saying it was fantastic or out to win any awards, but it didn't offend me as most of her books have, I thought the characters made believable choices, and its prose was decent. And I wondered if Lurlene was becoming a stronger writer, or had gotten a new editor, or perhaps was just feeling pressure by this wave of really popular Y.A. writers who are churning out damn fine books (you can check the sidebar for links to some of their sites, if you are curious).

So if I was forced to guess, I would gander that ol' Lurlene is feeling a bit threatened by the direction the Y.A. world seems to be heading in, and wanted to feel relevant too. I don't necessarily think that's a good idea; it makes me think of a bunch of recent McDonald's ad campaigns. Listen, you can try to tell us you're all about health now with a bunch of salad options and apples in Happy Meals or whatever, but why are you even trying to sell yourself that way? People run to McDonald's when they're in a rush or are broke or just are really friggin' craving one of the crappiest hamburgers known to man (no judgment, if I'm out and about before 10:30 a.m. I have no ability to keep my car from veering into a drivethrough and forcing me to order a McGriddle).

Lurlene, don't feel threatened! The kids who read you really love those dead kids; the audience who's getting caught up with kids who deal with adult stuff like sex and relationships and the terribly difficult task of finding young adulthood, whatever that means, has likely already left you behind.

This all said, Lurlene has an intro to Prey letting us gentle readers known her intentions. Or something:
A Note from the Author: Part 1

Many of you who are familiar with my book will know that Prey is not my typical book. In fact, as it's turned out, it isn't even the book I intended to write about the subject of a female teacher involved with a male high school student. [I assume the original had a bunch of cancer too.] The book I planned was different from this one [Didn't you just say that?], but once I got into the research and actual writing of Prey, the story took on a life of its own. I hope it makes you come to conclusions, as I did. [No worries, there, Lurlene, I certainly came to conclusions.]

This is a novel I felt compelled to write and one that supports my philosophy; no one gets to choose what life gives to him or her; one can only choose how one responds to these happenings. [Um WHAT? Deciding to fuck your teacher/student is not exactly like catching the leukemia. I mean, I get what she's getting at, the whole MY LIFE SUCKS SO NOW I WILL MAKE BAD DECISIONS, but, oh man, Lurlene, this is sort of crazy shit already. Also, is it legal to use TWO semi-colons in ONE sentence? Also all this talk about "my philosophy" has totes put "Hakuna Matata" in my head. Imagine if THAT was Lurlene's philosophy, you guys! What the heck would she write about then?] This book is a study of characters who make bad choices [what a terrific idea for a book for young adults!] choices that will follow them, even haunt them [spooky!], for the rest of their lives. [Oooh, is this gonna be one of them LESSON BOOKS?]
She goes on a bit about male students/female teachers and the fact that there are ALL THESE CASES, which, okay, let me say something IN SUPPORT OF LURLENE. (Don't faint from shock, guys.) So the other week I was home on a Friday night (because I live the glamorous life) watching 20/20 (because apparently I am also eighty), and John Stossel did this whole special about the age of sexual consent. Basically the entire special was really offensive, as it relied a lot on gender stereotypes and the assumption girls can't ever really consent to sex (story after story about sixteen-year-olds needing to be protected from their boyfriends, etc.), but there was a whole section on this very topic of female teachers having affairs with their male students. It was pretty irresponsible reporting; basically at the end of it, Stossel sort of shrugged like, "there are no real damages due to this, it's not like when girls have sex with older men, maybe it's fine!" and never once delved into the gender/power issues present in our society, and why girls who have sex with older men might have a lot of emotional issues later and why boys who do the same don't (even though Stossel was upfront about these boys gettin' lots of "atta boy!" from not just their families/acquaintances but society too). Like, way to report on a sexual double-standard without ever mentioning there's a sexual double-standard!

That was a really long-winded and tangential way to tell you guys I'm happy at least the almost-always-misogynistic Lurlene recognizes that it's no more okay for a female teacher to seduce a student than a male one to do the same. Thank you, Lurlene, for that. Abuse of power is abuse of power, period, even if society grins at one and is disgusted by another.

Wow, you guys, that got really serious. You know what we need to get back to our happy place?

That's right:

All righty. The book opens from Ryan's POV. (By the way, considering Lurlene was all "I WISH I'D WRITTEN MY SISTER'S KEEPER", I bet that's where she stole the idea of ten zillion POVs (three, okay, to be fair). Jodi Picoult, you should totes sue; it was definitely your idea first to not worry about conveying how other characters were feeling and just let every single one TELL US.) Ryan is cocky with a capital cock:
"Hey, watch where you're going, turd." [You guys, if you think "turd" is Lurlene's attempt to be, like, potty-mouthed and edgy, you are so right. But just wait. This is just the tip of the turdberg.]

I've bumped into a senior, a joke, and he's snarling [Seriously, snarling? Is he, like, part wildcat or something?] at me. I bow slightly and get out of his way. He'd stopped without warning in the middle of the hall. I say, "Sorry, my bad. I didn't see the traffic light over your head giving you the right of way." [Wow, that's like the worst OH SNAP! moment ever.] His pretty girlfriend looks me over, giggles. [I love that Ryan thinks the giggling is related to the comment; I like to think the giggling is related to what a turd he is. Sorry, guys, now I want to keep saying "turd". It doesn't help that my roommates were literally just watching this episode of South Park which totes included a whole turd song.]

The guy puffs up. "Take off, creep."

He turns and I take a chance and wink at his girlfriend. She's pretty, but off-limits.

She blows me a kiss when her boyfriend isn't looking and I watch them take off down the crowded hallway. Wait for it, I think, and am rewarded when she glances over her shoulder to make sure I'm still watching. Gotcha! ["Gotcha"? Wha-what?]
So basically I already hate Ryan because he's played for serious and not for laughs. In another book written by a more skilled author, a guy who talks like this and claims to have worked out all summer on top of working on his tan, and who lives the life of luxury because his dad's in sales and he gets the place allllllllll to himself allllllllllll the time, well, please! I'd love this guy! But he's FOR SERIOUS. Stupid turd.

What does Ryan think about his amazing life with his amazingly on-the-road dad?:
"I got the new Grand Slam Poker game on Saturday."

Joel's eyes light up. "I'm in."

"It's tricky."

"Bring it on. You're lucky your dad gets you stuff like that. I have to save every cent and buy stuff I want myself." [Oh BOO HOO Joel.]

Lucky? I think. It's a bribe, Joel, my man. Dad buys me stuff because he sheds guilt over leaving me alone so much like a shaggy dog sheds hair.

Oh man, I hate this book so much already. Where's a good cancer symptom when you need one? Only one thing can help me now:

Whew, better.

Ryan's first class is World History, which would totes suck except it's taught by Ms. Settles. Why is Ms. Settles so awesome?:
Ms. Settles is gorgeous. Straight jet-black hair to her shoulders, skin the color of cream and big blue eyes so clear you could swim in them. Her body is as sexy as any movie star's, with curves and boobs and a sweaterdress that shows off her assets.
That is a weird description. First of all, aren't "boobs" part of "curves"? Also, is a sweaterdress part of your body? Also, let's be fair, a lot of movie stars these days aren't exactly resplendent in the boobs/curves department.

I totes picture Ms. Settles as Bernie Dexter:

Sorry, Bernie, that's totes not fair to you. I'm just saying, if I were casting the TOTALLY HYPOTHETICAL PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD DON'T GET ANY IDEAS film version of this, I'd totes ask for a Bernie Dexter type.

Of course Ms. Settles isn't just hot, she makes them all laugh and enjoy history! Also, she's wearing stilettos. For some reason, this is a big friggin' deal. I haven't been in high school for, uh, awhile, but are teachers never in high high heels? I get that I'm in a different line of work, but I wear ridiculously-high heels all the time and no one bats an eyelash. That said, I'm not around teenage boys, but, uh, don't teenagers get turned on by, like, everything? Whatever. Ms. Settles wears stilettos, therefore she is a sexual predator.

The next chapter is from the POV of Ryan's BFF... Honey. No, I'm not kidding. Her name is Honey. WTF! She hates her name, blames it on her scriptwriters of the eighties, because apparently she is named after a character in "some police drama on TV". You guys, I just spent a long, long time on Wikipedia trying to figure this one out, and I've no idea. The closest I came was some show from the 1960s called Honey West. If Lurlene is referring to something REAL, let me know. I would probably judge Honey's parents more harshly if I hadn't, more than once, thought it would be cool to name my future hypothetical daughter Murphy.

Honey's totes in love with Ryan, but she's tall and horsey so of course he doesn't share these feelings. Honey also totes hates Ms. Settles:
Then I add, "I think she looks like a hooker." It's mean, but teachers should wear cute baggy sweaters and not flaunt their bodies.
Shut up, Honey, I hate you already.

Now we get Lori Settles's POV. If you liked Ryan's description of her, you'll loooove her description of him:
Then one speaks out. A wise-guy answer that makes the room laugh. He's beautiful. Dark hair, blue eyes, dimples--not yet a man, yet more than a child. [Who else is singing this song? Yeah, just me then? All right.] Yes, I know that too in an instant. It's a gift, being able to see inside them. I stare at him and the room seems to recede. A halo of light encircles him and suddenly, I know... he'll be the One.
Holy fuck that's terrifying!

So Ryan's dad's home, for the moment, and we learn he sells hospital equipment! HA! Of course he does. He probably runs into dying kids all the time. Whatever. Ryan's dad is a terrible father; who has a fifteen-year-old he thinks he can just LEAVE COMPLETELY ALONE for days and weeks at a time?

Ryan's all "MY DAD DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE LIKE ALL THE TIME I SPEND LOOKING AT AND THINKING ABOUT LORI SETTLES" and says something so gross I want to share it with you guys:
Sometimes when I see her unexpectedly, like in the halls or in the lunchroom, my heart races and the crotch of my pants gets tight.
Ew ew ew! I don't want any erection talk in the Lurleneverse! I didn't even know there WERE erections in the Lurleneverse. I thought babies came from magic, god, and angels. And, seriously, if you want to say he's got a hard-on, say it! This weird phrasing just made me imagine the crotch of pants magically shrinking.

Man, after that, you guys, let's go to our happy place:

Also, Ryan starts doing that expositiony vague hinty thing about how he doesn't have a mother, how she's gone, how she left them, and how he knows all this psychological bullshit about how obviously he needs a mother figure in his life. Man, I hate Ryan so much. It's like Lurlene watched one episode of the O.C. and thinks she's got this self-aware snarky teen thing down.

So Ms. Settles makes her move: she asks Ryan if he and some of his friends can help her move some furniture. Yeah, I think Ryan knows a way to get some furniture moving, if you know what I mean. Ryan's down with that, of course, but shows up to her place sans friends. Believe it or not, this isn't because he doesn't have any! I expected the sexing to start with this visit, but it doesn't. She just asks him if he "like[s] cappuccino". Then she makes him a cappuccino. Man, now I'm jealous of her wardrobe AND her cappuccino machine.

Back to Lori's POV. She senses that Ryan's starved for approval, so she wonders "especially" about his mother. Just another lady hatin' on ladies! I love that clearly we're supposed to be "aw poor Ryan, his mother left him!" when, uh, shouldn't we also be blaming his craptastic dad?

So Ryan's all crazed, and Joel tells him he needs to get laid, that there's only so much a dude can do for himself in the shower. OH MY GOD! Here's yet another topic I wasn't really prepared for the Lurleneverse to bring up! Man, this book reeks of trying way too hard. I think it's time for another happy moment, don't you?:

So Lori asks Ryan on what's basically a date, to "another part of town" where they go to a coffee shop. I hope it's not the one I write some of these recaps from! Lori, of course, orders a drink called the Italian Stallion! They have all sorts of typical first-date talk, I mean, if you're a teacher on your first date with your student. Lori's perfume, again, makes Ryan's jeans grow tighter in the crotch. JUST SAY IT. Also, I hate the word "crotch". Not unrelated, I also hate the word "crouch". It's just too close to "crotch".

So Ryan and Lori keep, um, dating, which is rough on Ryan:
I've taken so many cold showers that my skin's started to wrinkle and my balls have shriveled.
OH MY GOD JUST STOP IT LURLENE. Do you fucking get that you can be, you know, edgy and relevant and honest in dealing with sexuality without just being lewd? Oh, man, I can't believe I said "lewd". That's what this book has driven me to.

It's definitely time for some of MY philosophy:

Ryan's friends are starting to get pissed that he's never around anymore and is all SECRETIVE. You guys, seriously, be relieved! Who'd want to hang around Ryan besides an emotionally-fucked up teacher? Even his dad stays the hell outta town!

Of course, it FINALLY happens:
"Oh, my dear, precious Ryan." She leans forward, lifts my face and kisses me lightly on the mouth.

I take her shoulders and kiss her back. Hard, I kiss her, and long. [Are we still talking about the kiss?] Her tongue slides between my teeth, igniting a fever I can't control. Outside, the rain drums on the glass, giving a rhythm to some primitive force in me that I don't want to control.

Her hand slips onto my crotch, cups the bulge pushing against my jeans and makes me groan. She rubs me and I think I'm going to burst. "Do you like that?" she asks.


"Yes." I kiss her again, driving my tongue into her wet, hot mouth.
It just gets worse from there, you guys. Afterwards Lori's all "oh, was that okay?" and of course it was, and he's all I'M GLAD YOU'RE MY FIRST and she's all I'M GLAD I WAS YOUR FIRST and, man, it's so terrible. SO TERRIBLE. This book is so gross. Who knew Lurlene could turn me into a prude?

Honey and her lady friends are out shopping, and decide to try on stilettos, to see if they can walk in them like Ms. Settles does. Man, what is with this stilettos fascination? It's like these kids have never seen a four-inch heel before. Anyways, Honey's all, "boldly", asking for a size ten, and explains that basketball makes a girl's feet bigger. WTF! Anyways, that's my size too, and I have never played basketball in my life, and I never feel the need to make excuses when I want sexy shoes.

Speaking of the shoes, the school has a talk with Lori about her attire. They want her to dress in ACCEPTABLE attire. I'm not sure where I stand here. I have a feeling we're supposed to think Lori always looks totes inappropriate, and I do know from my friends who teach that it's best not to draw attention to yourself in any way if you want kids to pay attention to the lesson and not you, but this just reeks of women needing to cover themselves up. I mean, not that I'm defending Lori, she's clearly doing this just to make the boys want her. I just wish it was presented a bit more that way, and not "GOOD WOMEN COVER THEMSELVES UP".

Ryan and Lori are on the phone, and he actually tells her he has a hard-on just hearing her voice! I'm so proud that for once it wasn't just jeans-crotch shrinkage. Still, now I have to digest this, and again, I go to a happy, happy place:

Better now. Phew.

Ryan gets Lori a Celtic love knot necklace for Christmas, and Honey's snooping around in his room and sees it. OH NOES! Lori goes crazy and buys Ryan a bunch of designer clothes, an iPod, just a ton of shit. Hey, teacher friends of mine, you should go be teachers in the Lurleneverse, where it's apparently an amazingly-paid profession! Ryan's dad sees the gifts and is all "WTF" but Ryan just says his friends gave him this stuff. Ryan's dad jumps on the fact that Ryan says Honey gave him a bunch of it, and he's all "so do you like her?" and when Ryan says no, he's all "Well, you do like girls, right?" and Ryan's all pissed that he thinks he's gay, and also that he acts like everything's cool if he IS gay because his dad's a homophobic jerk. Wait, in the Lurleneverse it's bad to be homophobic? I guess there can be something good here after all! What a freaking shock!

Lori starts getting "cold and possessive" but of course Ryan's still under her spell. They have A LOT of sex. This book is pretty smutty. If I'd read this in junior high it totes would have gotten passed around for the juicy bits, I mean, before we discovered V.C. Andrews. Also at gifted camp we passed around those Earth's Children books. But, yeah, Prey would have gotten some mileage for sure. Seriously, what was Lurlene thinking? I can't believe her usual fanbase would be all "OH YAY FOR THE SEXING". In fact, I noticed on Amazon that, whereas as most of her books have ten gajillion glowing reviews, Prey only has one.

So of course Ryan's not hanging out with his friends much, and his grades are slipping. He lies to Lori and says his dad's around more, just so he can get his grades up and spend just enough time with his friends for them to hopefully stop being suspicious. Ryan's at Honey's, and she gets all embarrassed because she sees HIS STOMACH, which, um, Honey is the biggest prude I have ever met. It's amazing to hate someone in this book who isn't Ryan or Lori, but I hate Honey and Ryan's dad so much. What a cast of heinous people, for such varied reasons.

Anyways, Ryan and Honey are wrestling (right?) and Ryan kisses Honey. She gets that it doesn't mean anything, but it still pisses her off that he ignores her afterwards. Uh, Honey, that's how lots of people handle making embarrassing choices like that kiss. And after you were all OMG YOUR STOMACH I doubt he thinks he can talk to you maturely. Anyway, Honey confronts Ryan, so he doesn't know what else to do but ask her to the school dance. WTF! Bad idea, Ryan. Though I guess this is the kind of jackassery "I'll make you forget what an asshole I am" move a guy like Ryan would likely make. Plus it's not like he could take his actual girlfriend!

Speaking of our happy couple, they take a day trip to Savannah where they can be open about their relationship. In case you guys think Savannah is some mecca to teacher/student relationships, it's just that no one knows them there. Lori spends tons of money on Italian suits for Ryan, which, again, how does she afford them, and what the fuck does a kid need with a bunch of Italian suits? Does he join the mob in the sequel?

At the dance everyone's having a good time until Honey notices that chaperon Lori is wearing that Celtic love knot necklace she saw in Ryan's room. OH NOES! Also Lori is a crazy psycho jealous type so she doesn't like Ryan there with the "big, horsey girl". Horsey is only a few letters off from Honey, I'm just saying! Anyway, in all of Lori's crazy rambling, she exposits that her father molested her and her mother never did anything to stop it. OH SO IS THAT WHY YOU CAN'T HAVE A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP WITH MEN YOUR OWN AGE LORI? Ugh. I'm not saying that abuse doesn't lead to abuse, but this is totally painted like once that kind of shit happens, you're doomed. I know several abuse victims within my life who didn't start screwing students.

So Honey goes back to Ryan's room to snoop some more, hoping against hope that necklace is still there, but of course it's not. So she hacks into his computer, finds all the emails between him and Lori, and copies them all to disc. HONEY! This is sort of nuts, but, than again, none of my guy friends from high school AS FAR AS I KNOW YOU GUYS were sleeping with any of our teachers. So I can't say what I'd do.

Soon they have a substitute teacher in Lori's class, and Ryan gets called out by the principal. Whoa! Detectives are waiting for him! They have his emails! They tell him that he isn't in trouble, but that Lori is a sexual predator, and this isn't the first time she's struck.

Ryan's all BOO HOO I THOUGHT I WAS SPECIAL AND HER FIRST, which, dude, you're the one who was going on and on about the amazing sex and how she knew things no high schooler did. Did you think that was just what happens when one waits until age thirty-three to do it for the first time? Yes, I'm sorry, you're absolutely right, that's totes the work of a pent-up virgin-no-more. Shut up, Ryan.

Ryan goes to Lori and CONFRONTS HER about the other guys, and she's all "BUT YOU WERE SO SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT" which, just, SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU.

Of course the police show up, but Lori freaks out and STABS HERSELF WITH A KNIFE!!!! Of course Ryan's all "DON'T DO THIS TO ME NOT THE WAY MY MOTHER DID IT" so, yeah, Ryan's mom killed herself. And that's why Ryan fucked his teacher. Good to know, guys.

Actually, Lori is fine, though. I mean, not dying from her self-inflicted stab wound. There's nothing "fine" otherwise about Lori except that she's hot.

Ryan's dad is PISSED, and I am actually thrilled and relieved. I honestly expected him to be all "atta boy, she was HOT" and he's not like that at all. First good parenting I've seen from you yet, Ryan's dad. Way to show up at the end and win me over.

In all the fallout, it becomes apparent that it wasn't exactly a secret Lori had done this before, the parents had just kept it quiet to spare their kid media embarrassment. Um, wouldn't this have come out then when Lori was transferring to a new school? Way to cover all the research, Lurlene.

Ryan realizes Honey's the only one who could have found those emails, so he goes over to confront her. She's all EW SEX and he's all, "what if it was with a girl my age, would that have been cool?" and our lovely anti-sex Honey says that he shouldn't be having any sex at all. WTF is with Honey? If there's anyone who CLEARLY has something fucked-up in her past, it's her.

The last chapter, from Ryan's POV, is three years later. By now he's slept with giant gobs of high school girls, and admits Lori wasn't his first either. WTF! So he thinks it was cool he wasn't a virgin at fifteen when he met her, but it was that SHE WASN'T AT THIRTY-THREE. I hate you, Ryan. I have a feeling you should read Jessica Valenti's new book when it comes out.

Ryan's waiting for Lori because she's gettin' out of jail! WOO HOO! And then it ends. I guess they're gonna live happily ever after. Clearly we're supposed to see how fucked up Ryan is, and how messed up this whole situation is, but, um, I still don't get the point to this book.

"Don't worry!" you tell me. "There's another note from the author! She'll explain EVERYTHING!"

Oh, okay then!
A Note from the Author: Part 2

Now you know Ryan and Lori's story. It is fiction, but there are many real relationships like it. The more research I did, the more cases I discovered.

Years can pass before the psychological damage surfaces in a young man's life. One primary long-term effect is the inability of such men to establish lasting relationships with women of a more appropriate age. These men are hesitant to commit, and many suffer from serious depression.

The female teachers who engage in such seductions often have serious emotional problems of their own--histories of physical and sexual abuse, and bipolar or other psychological disorders that contribute to their dysfunctional behaviour.

Having studied this growing problem, I have concluded that nothing can justify this kind of relationship. These relationships cause legal, psychological and emotional harm to both parties, as well as to their families and their communities. [Was there some possibility up until this, Lurlene, that it was OKAY to fuck your teacher?]

. . .

I hope this novel will make you, my readers, think, and help you understand that today you make choices that you will have to live with forever.
WHAT? WHAT? Like, okay, yeah, first of all, while of course Ryan had a say in this, he was clearly targeted and abused, at least emotionally, by Lori, so I hate this whole "KIDS IF YOU DO SOMETHING BAD NOW YOU'LL BE SCREWED UP FOREVER" screed of hers. That coupled with Honey's whole sex-is-terrible attitude, I have a feeling that's actually what Lurlene is getting at. No matter how hot it is, sex will ruin your whole life, so don't have it!

I mean, I think that's the lesson. I love how in the synopsis Honey's grouped in with them, when the only thing she has to live with is Ryan no longer speaking to her because she turned him and Lori in. That seems like something manageable v. a life-long sexual/relationship problem! Plus who would even WANT to talk to Ryan anymore. He might do something unseemly like show you his stomach!

People, I am at a loss for words. If the lesson is how fucked-up you'll be if you engage in this sort of behaviour, why was the sex so hot (uh, to them, not me), and why did they end up together after all? Because that's like real life? I have no idea what that means, as far as these life-long consequences.

So instead I'll leave you with this:


Madeline said...

Oh man, why did she have to be a history teacher?

I'm a history teacher (or will be, in a matter of months). Good grief.

This whole post made me laugh like, a lot.

ames said...

Clementine, take comfort: at least in the Lurleneverse you could be FRIGGIN' LOADED on your history teacher salary! Will you buy me some stilettos???

Jujube said...

"he sheds guilt over leaving me alone so much like a shaggy dog sheds hair"


"my heart races and the crotch of my pants gets tight"

Double cringe.

"I've taken so many cold showers that my skin's started to wrinkle and my balls have shriveled"

Cringe infinity.

This book sounds like the world's worst Lifetime movie...

ames said...

Oh man, Miss Bliss, you are SO SO RIGHT. This has Lifetime Movie written ALL OVER IT.


Megan said...

EWWWWW, I need to take a shower. Call me a prude, but I really don’t want to read awkward prose about teenage boys getting gross, sweaty erections in their jeans. “Do you like that?" NO! Gah!

… sorry.

Creepiness aside, I think what really surprised me the most about this book is the absence of the handwritten, inspirational Lurlene McDaniel scrawled across the cover. I guess the presence of illicit sex deserves more stern looking lettering…

ames, you're a saint for enduring this for us.

Anonymous said...

Jesus... it's like she watched the Mary Kay Letourneau story on lifetime and decided to change the names around. I sat through it once through the entertainment value. I'm honestly surprised Lurlene even bothered to change the names.

This is Genevieve by the way, Ames...

ames said...

Megan, and the thing is, I have totally read YA books where boys deal with, uh, their bodies, and I have never been grossed out like this before. Listen, we all have our share of weird bodily shit to deal with especially during puberty and shortly after, but, man, there's a way to write about it and then there's THIS.

And you're so right... so strange to see a newer book of hers without the madass scripty font!

Genevieve, the one thing I figured was different from that story was that the teacher didn't get pregnant. Besides that, yeah, seems freaking IDENTICAL. Way to "research", Lurlene.

Anonymous said...

do you have any more friends with babysitters club names?

also- we had a really cool teacher that fell in love with one of his students at the school he was at before (obv he had to change schools), and they got married and lived happily ever after (as far as i know). aww.

snappleaddict said...

Holy shit I need to read this. It has Lifetime movie written all over it.

snappleaddict said...

Oh shit, I should have read the above comments.

Anonymous said...

So, I just discovered your blog and have been having hysterics trying to cough up my laughter ('cause I'm at work, of course).

After this post I immediately requested "Prey" through library-loan, because, well... how can I not?


Anonymous said...

Wow. Just...wow. What happened to the Lurlene McDaniel of my middle school years, she of "Six Months to Live" and "I Want to Live" and "Mother, Help Me Live" and "Don't Die, My Love" (it's sad I still remember all those).

Oh, and this was the book that was passed around my high school because of its gratuitous and extremely graphic sex scenes. Those were the days.

ames said...

Nancy, all my friends have BSC names. Except for my roommate Dawn Rochelle!

Snappleaddict, you will lovvvve this book. I mean, you won't, you'll hate it, but you'll love hating it. It is INSANELY AWFUL and not in the usual Lurleneverse way.

OMG Meghan!! So last year I got a bunch of books from the library for vacation, including Swimming Sweet Arrow, having NO IDEA it was basically sex with some plot thrown in. I was reading it ON A PLANE and noticed the horrified look on the person's face who was sitting next to me because, like, EVERY SINGLE PAGE was all GRAPHIC SEX GRAPHIC SEX GRAPHIC SEX. I am so not a prude but I would have taken along a different book had I done the slightest bit of research.

Tiny Pants said...

WOW, this one made me choke back tears of laughter as well as vomit of well, vomit. Who'd have thunk there'd be nutsack description in Lurlene? Srsly!

Also your points abt power and gender (in the part abt watching 20/20!) are well taken. Don't worry, I'm more often than not doing cool shit like that on a Friday myself.

Anonymous said...

Hey! this is the first time i'm commenting on your blog, I think I found it off Tales of a former walking highlighter. Anyway, i LOVED lurlene when i was a kid, and I totallyyy would never have guessed she'd write a book like this. LOL.

ACTUALLY, when i checked the date you posted, I thought this was an April Fool's joke.... hahah

stephanie said...

Thank you for recapping this book so that I never have to read it. Or maybe I will. It seems far too terrifying for words!

Lauren said...

I am enjoying this blog way too much.

I'm another lifelong Lurlene-hater (even in middle school I wondered what the hell the appeal of her books was) and I ordered Prey from Amazon this spring out of morbid curiosity. Holy fuck. What exactly does Lurlene have against young, unmarried female teachers? Clearly I'm one step away from sleeping with my male students, considering that I'm young, female, unmarried, a teacher, and I prefer heels and skirts to "cute baggy sweaters."

I totally didn't get the end of this book. Are we supposed to suddenly hate Ryan? (As if we don't already?) Does this excuse him or something? All I can figure is that some teacher pissed Lurlene off to no end, and this was her attempt at lame revenge.

ames said...

Lauren, I'm with you one hundred percent. I genuinely couldn't even make sense of what Lurlene was TRYING to say, much less what she was actually saying.

There's also just a way Lurlene has of writing, IMO, where it's not about A single teacher who dresses sexy being evil, no, it's portrayed as This Is How Evil Sexy-Dressing Single Women Who Teach Always Always Always Are. It's like the stuff in her other books about Working Women and Rich People. Generalizations galore in the Lurleneverse!

Laurie Stark said...

You had me at 'tip of the turdberg'.

But seriously? Why do both of her author's notes sound like they were written by a 12-year-old?

Anonymous said...

This book sounds DREADFUL.
may I never read it, ergh!

Sara said...

I checked out a copy of this book from the library and read it in two sittings. I'm pretty convinced this is either an anti-sex screed or that Lurlene actively sought out the most tired Lifetime or YA cliches to bundle together. Smartass "loner" teenage boy protagonist? Check. Homely female BFF crushing on protag who whines about how he'll never love her? Check. Sexy predator who was a sex abuse victim so that's why she hates grown men and fucks young boys and gets off with a slap on the wrist because she's hot and cries her way out of things? Check. And holy shit was that a disturbing ending.