All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself and igniting Ella's rage.
As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter.
Adele Griffin's riveting novel explores the issues of generation Facebook: the desire to be someone else, real versus online friends, and the pitfalls and fallouts of posting your personal life online for all the world to judge.
OPINION: 4 STARS
Entertaining and realistic, The Julian Game has some intense characters, lip quirking events, and a certain stunning depth. While perhaps not every high school would go through things like in The Julian Game, some would. The Julian Game is a striking portrayal of how swept up in the online world we can become lately, and how much damage something innocent can wreak.
Raye is a great character, someone who flies pretty under the radar at first with hints of social leperness but isn't all out tormented and targeted. She's intelligent and friendly, content for the most part with things until the prospect of something more comes into the picture. At the first chance, she jumps to spend time with Ella in hopes of getting into the popular group's parties. There is a clear shift in her personality and motivations at this point but it remains believable and understandable, and Raye's overall growth and change is well written.
Ella is intense and eclectic. With plenty of ticks and quirks of her own, a clear hints of OCD, there are numerous ways people could go after her and bully her. Instead, she manhandles much of the school and runs things her own way, using her quirks to her advantage. Hints of an lurking craziness go unnoticed by the vast majority of people, even a Raye starts spending more time with her. I particularly liked this aspect, since it was clear as a reader on the outside but those things are easy to miss at the time. Ella is vindictive and calculating, sure in what she does and well aware of where things will go as a result. Despite the extremes of her character, Ella is very believable and a realistic bully. While Griffin does include a few scenes that cast sympathy on Ella and even give reason to some of her behavior, she doesn't make excuses or condone it.
The plot is intricate in several ways but pitched seamlessly and in an easy to follow manner. Despite some of the intensity in this book, it is an overall light and airy read with humor, drama and entertainment. Much of the events are easy to imagine happening and sends a great underlying message. Griffin's writing is interesting in style, giving a new voice to Raye despite sometimes coming off as choppy.
Overall, The Julian Game is a great read with some interesting twists and plot points, centering around everyone's honest desire to be noticed, get the cute boy, and be part of the popular group. With raw truths coming out about several characters, and a few even being pitched in a different light at the end as when we first met them, Griffin has written a fantastic work.
Source: ARC received for review from author
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (August 26, 2010)