You’re a foster kid who somehow manages to get a full ride plus expenses to Trumbell Woodhouse, the most exclusive boarding school in the nation. You hope you’ll fit in despite your secret: you get visions of the past, present and future that you can’t control. But even weirder, once you get to the school, you begin to suspect that the campus holds a secret as strange as yours and that someone’s out to get you…
That’s right, YOU are the main character of this story which is written entirely in second person. It’s a conceit that actually worked well for me – reading this book made me feel like I actually was attending this glamorous school. I picked up my brand new laptop, visited my mysterious advisor, did a difficult Greek translation and made some nice new friends.
I was really impressed with the writing. The dialogue and inner monologues were snappy and hip without resorting to the kind of pop culture name dropping that ages a book all too quickly. The supporting characters were painted with just enough brush strokes to make them distinguishable and memorable. Case in point: Emily, your friend from back home. When you’re applying to schools and start getting rejections, she suggests she burn them to make you feel better, even though she’s not allowed:
“Emily got in trouble for starting fires at recess. She was burning up her exams marked lower than a B-. Ever since, she has had to fight a pyromaniac rap.
She led you to the backyard and lit the letter and envelope with a match. She did seem to get a gleam in her eye while the paper burned. Actually, over the next week, she got that gleam five more times when she burned five more rejections.”
Many mysteries are brought up during the course of the novel but only one is really solved by the end. I guess this means I’ll have to read the sequel (which comes out Jan 25, 2009). It will be my pleasure.
NOTE: I just happened to pick up a copy of Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty today (which I haven’t read yet – I know, a travesty, right?) and just by reading the jacket copy, I see some major parallels between its story and Fabulous Terrible (including the title!). Both have characters that have visions going off to boarding school and running up against secret societies. But I’m going to look at it as homage rather than rip-off. What do you all think?