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Jake, Reinvented Hardcover – September 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-When Rick comes home from summer camp, he discovers that there is a new "it" guy in his high school--one who dresses straight out of J. Crew; is a great football player; and throws the party, complete with multiple kegs, on Friday nights. When Rick finally meets Jake, he discovers that he likes this hip fellow. He is stunned to find out that Jake once tutored Didi, the girlfriend of the quarterback and the most beautiful girl around, in math. When they start spending time together, the entire student body awaits the fallout. It turns out that Jake has given himself a whole new image and persona in his new school to win the approval of the school's most popular and completely superficial crowd simply to attract the attention of someone he loves. Korman's reworking of The Great Gatsby places the action in a modern framework, which makes it more recognizable for today's readers and may lead them to the classic. Teens will find deeper issues to consider about popularity, being true to one's self, and taking responsibility for one's actions as they relate to the setting and characters.--Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. High society meets high school in this retelling of The Great Gatsby, set at the class-conscious F. Scott Fitzgerald High. The stories correspond in many particulars: new kid Jake Garrett, "cool, mysterious, different," has won over the "it" crowd with raucous parties at his subdivision McMansion. Popular opinion turns against Jake when alpha male Todd Buckley suspects the newcomer, rightly, of pursuing his best girl, Didi, and turns up an ugly secret: Jake was once (gasp!) a big nerd. So begins Garrett's plunge to ignominy. The Nick Carraway character, Rick, offers a wry, comic voice, but constricting Fitzgerald's plot to the narrow world of high school, and scaling back the major crises (there's no death, murder, or suicide), leaves behind a drama that has more in common with a John Waters movie than a great American novel. Yet even as young adults feel insulted by the novel's portrayal of teenagers as nerd haters, beer guzzlers, and herd followers, they're also likely to read it with a wink and a smirk as they catch the sundry Gatsby allusions. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078681957X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786819577
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,074,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gordon Korman has written more than fifty middle-grade and teen novels. Favorites include the New York Times #1 bestseller The 39 Clues: One False Note, The Juvie Three, Son of the Mob, Born to Rock, and Schooled. Though he didn't play football in high school, Gordon's been a lifelong fan and season ticket holder. He says, "I've always been fascinated by the 'culture of collision' in football and wanted to explore it-not just from the highlight films but from its darker side as well." Gordon lives with his family on Long Island, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on September 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited--they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island, and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door. Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby, and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
"Everybody was there--most of the football team, their girlfriends, the cheerleaders, and a bunch of their boyfriends and friends, the cooler people from student council, and a collection of athletes from basketball and track. I noticed some sophomore girls whose names I didn't know--they'd really filled out over the summer; and a few guys who played in their own rock band. It was the guest list that really made this bash what it was. If I could put together the party of my dreams--not that my parents ever left me alone in the house for more than five minutes--this was exactly the kind of crowd I'd want. I marveled at how a newcomer like Jake Garrett could waltz into town and instantly know all the right people to invite.
"I turned to Todd. 'Do you see him?'
"Todd shook his head. 'Must be upstairs.'
" 'Don't his parents notice there are fifty kids going nuts in their house?' I asked.
"Jake's dad's out of town five days a week,' Todd explained. 'His mother lives in Texas somewhere. He picked up a slice of pizza from the table that was loaded with the stuff, folded it expertly, and took a bite.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. A. Mills on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
From the first page, Korman sucked me into his novel. Mimicing "The Great Gatsby" in a much more simplistic style, "Jake, Reinvented" follows high school students who attend parties every Friday night at Jake's house. He's the new, mysterious kid in school who instantly wins over the "in" crowd by joining the football team and throwing parties where the beer flows, the pizza is free, and the beautiful people go to mingle. Jake, of course, has reinvented himself to win over the beautiful, self-absorbed, and unavailable Didi. He does win her affection -- somewhat -- but it's not enough for him, and soon his obsession has dire consequences.

The story is narrated by Jake's new friend and all-around nice guy Rick, and the novel really shines when Rick displays his wry sense of humor.

Some of the storyline lacks believability, though, which I found distracting. For example, the parties are so crowded that no one can drive up and down the street. In reality, a neighbor would have called the cops. Also, Jake's house is destroyed every weekend, and Jake cleans it up himself before his father returns. Based on the description of the wild activities at the party, restoration of the home would seem an insurmountable task without a team of professionals.

Jake's secret former life was a letdown. I was expecting something a little more shocking than a nerdy past. In reality, it would take something more than one being highly intelligent to instantly turn off an entire student body to the new kid. The real world has plenty of advanced students who are popular because, ultimately, popularity is more about personality than anything else.

Rick's motivation for supporting Jake through the end of the novel, including in court, was not well supported in the story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MC on February 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who has read The Great Gatsby several times under different circumstances, I was intrigued by the idea of a teen version of the story. While the book is easily read and not very long, it took me some time to finish simply because it held no allure to draw me back. From the opening party, I was bored. The only interesting aspect was Korman's parallels to Fitzgerald. To Korman's credit, he does shadow Fitzgerald's characters and plot. But that's all he does. There was nothing new or noteworthy about this version of obsessed love.

The few parts where Korman shined (briefly) were the final courtroom scene and Rick's interaction with Jake afterward, and the fact that the Myrtle character (Nelson) does not end up dead.

Also sorely lacking is Fitzgerald's rich use of language through symbolism and figurative language. Korman does not use parallels to the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg or the Valley of Ashes, he does not use the green light off the Buchanan's dock, even his wild parties do not come across the way Fitzgerald's did since there is the undertone of underaged drinking and the mild vandalism in a home not "owned" by Jake, but by his unobservant father.

At least Jay Gatsby had an air of dignity about him. Jake's dignity is shattered early in the story and he never acquires the same level of nobility again. Jake comes across as a sham, where Gatsby retains a bit of mystery and respect.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lady of Shallot on February 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If I could, I would give this book negative stars. The characters are flat stereotypes, the plot a simplistic reduction of the original, the language mundane. I was insulted by the brute characterization of the football players and the vicious hatred of the nerds.

I spend my days in an American high school and the kids there are much more tolerant and sensible than any of these characters. This retelling of Gatsby eliminates any of the romance of the orginal in favor of trite descriptions of drunken high school frenzies. At least Gatsby's parties included some beauty.

Finally, the premise that Jake finances all of this by writing college essays and that his father doesn't notice the destruction of his house just doesn't work.

Shakespeare took plots from many sources and enriched them. Korman has taken the Gatsby plot and simplified it into a crass portrayal of fools. No beauty, no romance, even Jake's idealism of Didi comes across as ridiculous.

Don't bother reading it.
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