Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Inner Society, by Melinda Louise Bohannon


Social outcast Maggie Kraus is a total fish-out-of-water at exclusive Norfolk High. (Don't ask why she has to go to the swanky school. The plot dictates that she attend, so attend she must.) But the students at Norfolk are more than ordinarily hostile to the (ok, also hostile) Maggie. Like, to the point of inflicting serious physical harm upon the person of those not considered 'worthy' of their awesome school. Rich, powerful, and above suspicion, the 'in' teens are uniformly intelligent, athletic, and unbelievably attractive. They are also cruel jerks ... all except Peter and his super awesome youth group friends (who are still super attractive, rich, etc., but also nice). Can Peter and company help Maggie unearth the horrible secret behind Norfolk's elite Inner Society? (Oh, yeah, by the way, there's a horrible secret behind Norfolk's elite Inner Society. In case you were wondering.)

Ok, here's the thing. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review. I am not required to write a positive review. Which ... is a good thing, for reasons I'll go into in a minute. See, this is not a good book. I feel kind of bad saying so, because Bohannon sounds like a very nice lady and apparently works a lot with troubled teens, and I'm sure this book was a labor of love. But ... it is a ridiculous, kind of terrible book. But in the best possible way. I could not put it down. It was a train wreck in book form, only much, much funnier. And more enjoyable. Because as terrible as this book is, I had an absolute blast reading it. I plowed through it record time, largely because I could not wait to see what craziness happened next.

I think the easiest way for me to explain the awesome/awfulness of this book is to share with you some of my reactions while reading it. Apologies for the length. Here goes nothing [WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS].

--Wait, she's a fat chick in tight jeans and a purple halter CROP TOP? No wonder the kids are looking at her in 'cool contempt'.  Am I supposed to feel bad for her? Girl, I've got news for you: You don't have to go to snooty Norfolk High to get mocked for an outfit like that. There aren't many schools in the country where you wouldn't get weird looks for that kind of sartorial foolishness. (p.1)

--So, at 5'5" and 128 pounds she's 'overweight'? Oh, yeah. She's a cow. Wide load coming through. [eyeroll] (p.3)

--Silver eyes? Is that a thing? And do kids still make Charles Manson jokes? (p.4)

--The rich kids burned a dude's house down while he was still inside? Just to get him out of the neighborhood? Oh, and get this: his name was 'Old Man Keller.' This is awesome. (p.12)

--Apparently I really am supposed to feel bad for her when the rich kids judge her for her clothes. And yet, I do not. Because a halter top and mini-skirt from Walmart do not cost any less than a perfectly serviceable plain t-shirt and jeans from Walmart, which would be both unobtrusive and would cover up the massive gut on her 128-pound frame. You made your bed, honey. You lie in it (or, you know, wear it). (p.14)

--Maggie, if you keep picking fights with the bullies and unnecessarily escalating matters, I am going to have a very hard time feeling sorry for you. Also, she is a budding artist, though she's no 'Kinkade.' Awesome. (p.37)

--Awww, Maggie and Hot Peter went to camp together! How cute! Also, her mom died in a car crash, her dad's a drunk, they have no money, and her uncle sexually abuses her in lieu of charging them for rent? That is ... a lot to happen to one person. (p.45)

--Oh, so that's why Hot Peter's nice. He's in youth group. (p.49)

--Maggie has now been roofied, semi-seduced, shamed in front of all the cool kids, and has run away and is living in the woods. Until Hot Peter saves her, of course. (p.66)

--Cue AIDS PSA. (p. 68)

--Oh my gosh, Hot Peter's parents died in 9/11. You think he doesn't understand pain, Maggie? HOT PETER UNDERSTANDS PAIN! I love this book. (p.69)

--Cue prescription medication addiction. (p.81)

--Aaaaand car bombing. But who is the bomber? (p.81)

--Hot Peter and the Youth Group Gang talk to Town Pastor about the recent violence problems. Town Pastor's response: 'We know that the Bible talks about escalating violence in the end times.' Oh, Town Pastor. You are a delight. (p.87)

--Maggie is now going to nurse Old Man Keller's dog bag to health. His name is Courage. (p. 93)

--Hot Peter's parents: 'You are hot. Girls like that. So be careful with this chick, or she will fall in love with you, Hot Peter.' (paraphrase) Hot Peter: 'I only date Christian girls. And virgins.' (paraphrase, but only slightly) (p.96)

--Maggie's brakes were sabotaged, and now Jessica (the BFF) is dead! (p. 101) 

--Just when Maggie's about to prove the sabotage, her car gets crushed by the junkyard guys. No evidence for you! (p.108)

--Cue suicide attempt involving the lake, a canoe, a pistol, and a wedding dress. Not to worry, Maggie: Hot Peter to the rescue! But first he must sock you in the jaw so you stop being a spaz and nearly drown the pair of you. (p.116)

--MAKEOUT!!! (p.117)

--SECRET TATTOO!! OMG, I think Peter's in the Inner Society! (p.118)

--Maggie, don't you understand? Hot Peter feels your pain--the Muslims almost built a monument/mosque at Ground Zero. (p.119)

--Head Bully pocket dialed Maggie and accidentally left a confession on her voicemail. (p.128)

--The hospital has a secret sub-basement! Also: possible corpse theft alert. (p.137)

--The bad guys have flash drive full of evidence, including the brake sabotage and the arson of Old Man Keller's place. That's convenient. (p.144)

--And it's off to rehab for Maggie! (p.145)

--Maggie's speech in group therapy: 'I am sorrow, the daughter of a dead mother and an alcoholic father. I live in a place called desolation. I had a friend named hope and she was murdered by hate. Now you know me!'  This book is amazing. (p.146)

--Maggie gets the 'Suck it up, Buttercup, you're not the only one with a sob story' talk. (p.147)

--Cue Christian rehab counselor. (p.153)

--Maggie is now Hot Maggie. Hot Peter approves. Yay, rehab! (p.155)

--Genetically manipulated shenanigans! (p.164)

--Hot Peter just gave a Muslim couple his dead dad's car. Awwww. (p.169)

--Hot Peter is also Ridiculously Rich Peter and the owner of a bajillionty luxury cars. But not to worry, Maggie. He uses his powers for good ... and to fund wells in Nigeria. Also, he has a spunky aunt. (p.171)

--Hot Peter: 'You can trust me, Maggie. I'm not like the people who've hurt you.' Said every jerkfaced predator ever. Oh, Hot Peter. SLOW DOWN. (p.172)

--Christian Rehab Counselor: 'God doesn't like suffering, but he won't actually do anything about it. Oh, but He does feel bad about it, if that helps.'  (paraphrase) Thanks a LOT, Christian Rehab Counselor. (p.176)

--Cue conversion. (p.178)

--No more rehab for Maggie. But lots of rehab for dad--Yay! Pop quiz: Will she go stay with Hot Peter's Spunky Aunt? Answer: No, that would be 'weird'. Instead, she will to return to the house where her uncle routinely terrorizes her, and stay there all by herself while a bunch of genetically-enhanced bullies try to hunt her down and kill her. But not before taking a break to hang out at the beach. Alone. At night. Gold stars all around, Mags. (p.184)

--Go, Courage, Go! Eat Funny Uncle! Atta boy. Good dog, Courage. (p.196)

--Uh-oh. Hot Peter just showed up. Things aren't looking good for Funny Uncle. (p.196)

--Awww, Hot Peter's had a crush on Maggie since camp. And now he's macking on her 5 minutes after saving her from Funny Uncle. Dude! Slow down! (p.198)

--Hot Peter also reported the local cops to 'the central unit for Internal Affairs' in New York. They live in Virginia. (p.199)

--Oh, yeah, and Hot Peter is (has?) a black belt. I forgot to mention that. (p.208)

--Hormone alert! Fortunately, Hot Peter is a good youth group kid: 'You're worth waiting for, and I can't jeopardize our souls for a moment of passion.' What a prince. (p.209)

--Ta da! Maggie is secretly smart! She was just playing stupid, like she was playing ugly. (p.222)

--Possible organ theft! (p.244)

--Attempted train murder! Hot Peter to the rescue! (p.251)

--Hit men! (p.255)

--Aaaand Maggie's in the trunk of a car, bound and gagged. This can't be good. (p.265)

--Hot Peter to his ex: 'You're too beautiful as a person to end up alone. It will never happen.' Oh, Hot Peter. (p.284)

--Obviously, the best time for Maggie to bring up the issue of possible organ theft is during the trial. While she is on the witness stand. Oh, Maggie. (p.301)

--Verdict: Not guilty. Will no one avenge Old Man Keller? (p.310)

--Now there's a lone teenage gunman and a school shooting!?!?!? What the heck? This book has everything!!! (p.318)

--Awww, Maggie's sharing the gospel with the surviving bully. 'And his name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life that very night.' And then he died. The end. (p.327)

--Oh, wait, there's an epilogue. Dead BFF's stolen organs saved a bunch of lives and ... Hot Peter is proposing!!! They're going to get married over Christmas break! That way he can wait until she's 18.  (p.333)

So yeah, that's the book. Is it a good book? No. I mean, no. Did I like it? Yes. So much yes. I love it so much. And the best part is, it's going to be trilogy, which means there will be more of them. Needless to say, the other installments are totally going on my to-read list.

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