Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book Review: Boys Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Title: Boys Girls and Other Hazardous Materials

Author: Rosalind Wiseman

PAges: 288

Received from: ATWTs


Looking for a new beginning after a terrible mean girl past, Charlie Healey realizes there’s no escaping high school drama

Charlie Healey thinks Harmony Falls is the beginning of a whole new life. Middle school was brutal. But high school is Charlie’s big chance to start over and stay out of drama, except that on her first day she runs into Will, her ex–best friend, who had moved away. Now a varsity athlete and hotter than Charlie
remembered, Will hangs with the crowd running the school. But Charlie doesn’t understand their power until an innocent delivery guy falls victim to a near-deadly hazing prank.

Torn between doing what’s right and her secret feelings for Will, Charlie must decide whether to turn in her very best friend or live with the guilt of knowing what he did.

Rosalind Wiseman’s first novel for young adults is a fresh, funny, and juicy read about friendship, betrayal, and how far some will go to be accepted

Its no secret that Hazardous Materials is pretty universally acclaimed. Everyone seems to have loved the pants off it, which lead to some purdy high expectations from myself. So I'm kind of dissapointed.

Y'see, I expected more from the women responsible for the One True Teen Movie, Mean Girls. I expected dialogue that would blow me away and characters that jumped off the page and a sense of rightness, that this is that one voice, that one author who still remembers being a teenager. Buts thats not what I got. Yeah, it wasn't horrible. But it was missing something.

The plot involves Charlotte "Charlie" Healey, fresh on her first day of freshman year after having transferred from her old middle school to escape the web of frenemies she had formed.

Right away she meets some unusually friendly people, such as Sydney and Michael (kudos to Wiseman for putting a black kid in there!), but then theres also Will, ex-neighbor with whom she shares some sort of History. But thats one thing, right? She hasn't seen the kid in years. He doesn't know enough to ruin her fresh start, right?

Except she goes out for the school paper. And she sees Nidhi. And it all kind of goes to hell.

I think my main issue with Hazardous Materials is that I never for a moment thought I knew any of these people. Maybe I could generously say I knew of these people, in theory, but if you want me to be completly honest (which I usually am), there it is. Maybe its because I'm in a pretty thick haze during school hours, but none of the characters struck me as real. Everyone spoke with a lot of explanation! points! and in this overtly friendly way that only adults would think we talk like.

Charlie met her friends way.too.easily. I cannot stress this enough. No one gets that damn friendly that fast. It doesn't happen. Especially considering Charlie is a supposedly world-wary teenager. Theres supposed to be this whole process, you know? You happen to sit next to someone (no, they don't invite you unless they're trying to make someone jealous), you exchange some clever banter about that one teachers mustache or something. You happen to walk side-by-side out of the room and find you have your next class together. You spend the next several days sizing each other up and trying to decipher whether or not the others likely to dump you for greener pastures. Its a thing thats been going on since we got our lockers in sixth grade and if it became that easy all of a sudden, I would've gotten a memo.

But this is all relative. I don't know how things are in other schools. For all I know, to someone, somewhere, this book is their soul on ink and paper. For all I know this is some kids biography. I don't know. But this is how I feel.

If there's only one thing I enjoyed about this book, its Wiseman's ability to cover all the Main Issues of High School in less then three hundred pages in a relative easy manner. It was optimistic at the end, leaving room to remind the reader that, yes, in this book these things are huge. To you they may be huge. But remember, seriously, that it is only four years. It'll be over soon enough.

Rating: 7 out of 10--leaning back towards a 6


April (BooksandWine) said...

Yeah, I remember high school was definitely not that easy to make friends, but college was probably the easiest place I've ever made friends. Everyone is so outgoing around the keg :-P That and well, college tends to weed out some people.

Also, I agree about Mean Girls being the ultimate teen movie, although I do still love Breakfast Club, I can't quote it the way I do Mean Girls.

Dahlia (TheBookShopaholic) said...

I agree with you completely. This book disappointed me, too. It wasn't for me.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I love The Breakfast Club much more than Mean Girls. But that's just showing my age. ;-) I come from the Brat Pack generation.

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