March 27, 2006

Protective Coloring

Boy Proof, by Cecil Castellucci is another one of those really sensational novels that you read and feel that the characterization is so detailed, and the narrative voice so real that you think, "Hey. I know her!"

Readers who have ever felt alienated for their smarts, style of dress or tastes can truly identify with Egg, aka Victoria. E/V is a card-carrying sci-fi fanatic. She lives, eats, and breathes fantasy and science fiction films, dresses like her favorite character from Terminal Earth, and longs for the day when she can blow off the two-bit world of high school and be the brilliant sage she is, doing special effects stuff with her father and standing on top of the world. And Egg is brilliant, if not a little insecure and arrogant. She pushes hard to be at the top of her class, and allows just about zero contact with people whose G.P.A. is much lower than her own. After all, they've got nothing in common anyway. Egg's socialization skills are decidedly rusty. She likes everything to be the same (with herself as the acknowledged top of the heap), so when a new guy Max comes to school and gets into her space, and is maybe as smart as she is... there's trouble.

The problem with life in high school, though, is that it's sort of a collaborative effort. You kind of need people, even the people who don't get you, to get along and fulfill your dreams. It's painful, embarrassing, unfulfilling and disappointing sometimes to let other people in -- they don't understand your art and don't see your vision, but that's life, right? The quirky/brilliant people fit in as much as they can, and when they can't, they fly solo. It's just the way high school goes. Or so Egg thinks.

Actually, it's scarier when someone does understand. Someone like Max. Suddenly all the protective camouflage in the world doesn't make you boy-proof.

Author Castelliucci based her characters on people she knew growing up in New York City, and her L.A./show business language from her present life in Hollywood gives a behind-the-scenes authenticity.

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