December 24, 2005

V's R Us

Once again, I just cannot say enough good things about cover art! When it's good, it's really worth the occasional shout-out. I'm quite liking the style of Amy Saiden's work for Simon & Schuster. It's got a certain... je ne sais quoi that reminds me of both artwork of the sixties and kind of an anime feel at the same time. I didn't comment on it before, but now that I've run into her work again, I want to express how it caught my eye, and encouraged me to pick up a book I may not have.

And why wouldn't I have picked up this book? The title! The V Club made me feel like I was going to do a lot of yawning. Though Kate Brian is known to be an able YA writer, the topic seemed horrendous. The trend for teens to join virginity clubs sort of both makes my skin crawl and my teeth ache. Why on earth should something so personal be something about which one makes so public a statement?! (But then, I also question why people put political bumper stickers, 'Baby on Board' signs and fish symbols on their cars... but I digress.)

Kate Brian has written a complex novel that is both entertaining and somewhat predictable. Anyone writing a book about teen virginity and/or virginity clubs is, even indirectly, making a statement. The plot device which brings up the topic - a scholarship only available to those who can show "purity of mind and body" - was believable, because there are people who make unpopular decisions about how to bequeath their estates every day. The fact that everyone was eager to apply for the scholarship, knowing that it was essentially for virgins was less believable, and brought up some minor plot issues. Perhaps in my Christian high school it would have been no big deal for everyone to know that people were applying for the scholarship, but the scholarship, and all who were applying seemed too well known for a public school. The prurient interest of an entire student body could surely not be held on one group for so long.

There are eventual epiphanies voiced by some of the more intelligent characters about the unfairness of someone deciding that, if one has lost one's virginity in high school, one's life is basically not going to be worth living later and so no college help should go to them, but it seems to me that those conclusions could have been reached more speedily. There was a lot of drama in the book but that at times reminded me of the unlikely machinations of a slapstick film, but mostly the drama was realistically rendered popular-girls angst, and, the friendships which bound the girls together seemed to be true. Add a good cover, and you've got a book worth reading at least once.

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