Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a textbook geek, and all three of Rob's posse hates him, each for his own reasons. But Rob is driven by the need to prove his power, and so he decrees that they will take on the seemingly impossible task of making Simon popular. They take him shopping for a better look, get his hair styled, teach him how to behave. Rob extracts painful sacrifices and uneasy moral compromises to achieve the goal, but each of his followers has a hidden empty place and a related secret that holds them in bondage to his manipulations. Soon Simon is on his reluctant way to becoming Class Favorite, but then he begins to show a dark, cruel side, and an ability to do what the others can't--defy Rob. The complex interlocking motivations of these five move the story inexorably to a startling bloody catharsis.
In an enthralling first novel that evokes William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War, Gail Giles's Shattering Glass employs a brilliantly original structure to layer present and future in an exploration of the consequences of following a charismatic but amoral leader. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell
From Publishers Weekly
In this suspenseful, disturbing debut novel, a high school clique's plans to make over a social outcast go tragically awry. Quotes at the opening of each chapter foretell the disaster to come. Thaddeus R. Steward IV, nicknamed "Young," who is an aspiring writer, narrates the tale. As it opens, Rob Haynes, an out-of-state transfer student with good looks and seemingly unshakable confidence, quickly ascends to alpha male, ousting reigning king of popularity, Lance Ansley. But, as Lance puts it, "[Rob] wasn't happy to have it all, he had to make sure I didn't have anything." By contrast, Rob wants to position Simon Glass, a "textbook geek," so that his peers will vote Simon "Class Favorite." Simon appears to go along with the new clothes and haircut, but he has some ideas of his own. When Simon and Young discover a secret about Rob's past, one of them seeks to use it, the other to protect it. Unfortunately, the novel follows so many characters that readers do not get to know any one of them well. Ronna, Young's girlfriend, provides the most insightful commentary; speaking of Rob's plan to transform Simon, she says, "Instead of making Rob more, doesn't it just make all of us... less?" Such probing questions are overshadowed by the novel's larger events and the sheer number of characters. Still, the thriller plot and breakneck pacing will keep readers hooked and on the lookout for this author's next book. Ages 12-up.
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