The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois
When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights. Maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer
My Take: First of all, the good points - The protagonist is different from the usual plain-girl-gets-hot-guy in that she is 1) African American 2) perceptive and strong personality 3) attracts the attention of Will, a.k.a. Bad Popular Boy because she stands out as good and perceptive 4) brings depth to a minor character, Tyrell, neighborhood gangsta 5) gives a voice to the African American girl who does not talk black enough to fit in but her skin color prevents her from fitting into an upper class, white prep school. Actually, this aspect deserves more positive attention. Sonya wants out of the ghettos. Her personality is genuine, she is good and she works hard. I really liked that aspect. 6) she's a dancer. I always have a soft spot for the ballerina and wondered how many fouetté rond de jambe en tournant she can do before she tips over. I'm at two.
What I didn't like was another book about Mean Girls. It wasn't just the Mean Girls but it was page after page of what kind of trauma they could and did cause. They were Mean Girls on steroids. It was icky. I know. Really articulate, but it just was. Adding to the ick-factor was the sex games. It's sweet and all that Will put the skids on his sex score card while he dated Sonya but I would hope the girl would give pause before considering the diseases he may be carrying around.
I also didn't like the unfinished issues and storylines. Will admits to Sonya he has OCD. She watches it in action a couple of times but by the end I wonder what it had to do with the story since it didn't play a part. Will is an orphan who attempted suicide earlier. Okayyyy - again, what did this snippet add to the story? Will's character seemed to have much more depth that I wanted to explore but it doesn't go anywhere. In fact, besides Sonya, character development was too minimal for my tastes.
It is not a poorly written book by any stretch. The dialogue is intriguing, if raunchy. Oddly, swearing is kept at a minimum which I appreciated but it is not a clean book. Mostly I felt dissatisfied with understanding the main characters' motivation. I wanted to know them better.
It's the first book in a series so perhaps there will be more depth introduced. I liked Sonya. I liked her strength. I didn't like how her strength melted when her hormones kicked in. I liked Will. I liked that he sought Sonya out because she elicited the good in him. I liked that he struggles with his own demons of OCD, guilt over his parents' death, and he accepts Sonya's own quirkiness and doesn't blink when he discovers her poverty. I also liked the bi-racial couple concept. I just wanted more depth.