Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Monday, February 15, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah
by Erin Jade Lange

To be published by Bloomsbury
on February 16, 2016

Source: ARC for review from publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother. The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college. The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.  When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive. 

My take: While The Breakfast Club is a favorite movie of mine, I haven't had great luck with YA books that try to replicate its formula. You know, the four high school kids who seem to have little in common trapped in a situation that helps them get to know one another better.

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah had some good points, like a great cover, a sympathetic main character, and an unexpected (in a good way!) ending. But overall, I thought it was a stretch to try to cram both a heartwarming story of unlikely friendship (which necessitates a lot of character development/backstory) AND a suspenseful thriller into a few hundred pages.

The story is narrated by Sam, a girl with a tough home life, and her narrative uses a before/after format that I found confusing and unnecessary given all the other stuff that was going on. Besides Sam, the book features three other main characters: Andi (rebel), Boston (geek) and York (bully). The four of them wind up at the same party, and when that party is raided by the cops, they end up on the run in a stolen car that's hiding a big surprise in the back. This part of the story necessitated a huge amount of suspension of  disbelief for me - I just wasn't buying the fact that all these kids who didn't know each other would agree to steal a car and flee (hello, felony!) rather than take their punishment for being at a party where there was drinking. And as they speed away, things go way downhill for them from there. But hey, I guess teens have that undeveloped prefrontal cortex...

While they are on the run, these four characters get to know each other a little better (yes, the magical Breakfast Club formula!)  But it seemed to me that the unlikely friendship aspect of Rebel Bully Geek Pariah was often at odds with the book's desire to be a thriller. Because there were four characters to get to know, the story alternated between a road trip feel with chunks of dialogue-heavy narrative (to further character development) punctuated with some very suspenseful scenes. That issue, along with the before/after technique I mentioned before, gave this book an inconsistency of pacing. There's little to no romance (which I thought was a good choice given all the other stuff going on). For me, this story might have worked better with just two main characters (you know, the classic Odd Couple Thriller, like Speed or Romancing the Stone.) In those types of stories, the relationship and the thriller elements go hand in hand.

I've read and really liked other books by this author (I'm a big fan of Butter!) but for me, Rebel Bully Geek Pariah didn't quite gel together as either a thriller or a story of unlikely teen friendship.

16 comments:

  1. i have seen others struggle with this book. I actually haven't read any books by this author yet. I was interested in this one but not too sure.

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    1. Try it - or try Butter if you'd prefer a purely dark contemporary...

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  2. I am not really on board with how you mentioned they all meet. It seems really far fetched!

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    1. It was! The suspense parts of the book were good. I just wish the book had gone one way (contemporary) or the other (thriller)

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  3. Aw man, sounds like it tried to do too much

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  4. This is the first time I read about this book. It sounds good, but right now I don't think I can handle a book with big chunks of dialogue, but maybe some day.
    Great review, Jen!

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    1. lol I usually like those chatty road trip books (which was what this seemed at times)

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  5. I like the trope. It'll be interesting to see how it stacks up. While I see some pros and cons, I think I'm curious enough to give it a chance. :D

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  6. I've seen similar reviews, and I'm not as hyped about reading it now. I will, eventually. Great review!

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  7. Omg I'm laughing at this: "teens have that undeveloped prefrontal cortex..." TOO TRUE. XD I did like Dead Ends by Erin Lange (not such a fan of Butter, but it was still good!) and so I wanted to try this one but a) I haven't even ever seen The Breakfast Club, and b) Australia doesn't even have those cliques so I always find them confusing in books. XD The heartwarming/thriller does seem like an odd mix. D:

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  8. I know what you mean about it being hard for some books to replicate some situations! It seems like this one is a decent read, but it does seem pretty short and like it is cramming a lot in there! It might be better if it was just a little bit longer.

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  9. I can see where this would have a hard time balancing the thriller and Breakfast Club type elements. I've been wanting to read this one and I probably still will, but it's good to know this stuff going in. :) I've heard the fleeing part is a bit unrealistic... this sounds like one that is fun if you just go with it and don't analyze it too much. Great review!

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  10. I haven't read many books that can pull off The Breakfast club style either :-(

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  11. It's always a bummer when a book by an author you like doesn't stand up to the others. I LOVED the Breakfast Club. The description makes it sound interesting, but it may not make it to the reading pile. Great review though :)

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  12. Huh. I didn't know about the thriller aspect. Well, I'll still give it a try and see what happens...

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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