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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Cruel Summer (Fast Girls, Hot Boys)* by Kylie Adams - young adult book review


Cruel Summer (Fast Girls, Hot Boys)
by Kylie Adams
Young adult 240 pages MTV Books March 2006 Paperback    

MTV Books really are better than one would expect, considering they're labeled with the name of a company famous for music videos and reality television. Doesn't exactly seem to go hand in hand with great fiction, does it?

From what I've seen so far, if that's your opinion, you may be surprised. Cruel Summer, first in the new series Fast Girls, Hot Boys, really does surpass expectations. It's a story about five teenagers living in Miami: Pippa, Christina, Dante, Vanity, and Max. It's summer before the five of them start their senior year at the Miami Academy for Creative and Performing Arts. But, as you learn right off, only four of them will finish the year alive. The question is, which four survive?

It may be a morbid way to start the book, but none of that is mentioned past the prologue. After that, it's all about five Miami teenagers living the life of the rich and famous. Well, they're not all rich, but those who aren't are A-listers by association. It's all about hitting the hottest clubs and bars, or being invited to the most exclusive parties. This book doesn't just gloss over the antics of the five friends, though. It gets up-close and personal with the problems they have. There's more to the Fabulous Five than meets the eye.

Some of the problems involve Christina's very outspoken anti-gay mother, who has no idea what every word on the subject does to her daughter. Vanity is depressed and can blame it all on a physically absent mother and an emotionally absent father. Max's family is screwed up, too; there's his father, his father's trophy wife number two, and his sister who got breast implants for her fifteenth birthday. Dante and his mother have been trying to keep it together and make enough money to live since his father died in Desert Storm, and Dante's dreams of being a hip-hop star scare his mother too much for her to support it. Pippa, who used to be fabulously rich and living on an estate in London, now lives with her mother in a small Miami house with only $60 each week for allowance.

With five main characters, it's surprising how well the reader gets to know and like each one of them. It's also a great look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous. In the same places frequented by the Fabulous Five, you can also spot Vin Diesel or Nicole Ritchie. It's an intriguing look at this world that demonstrates how people are not always what they seem to be.

Cruel Summer pulls you right in as the prologue fast-forwards to graduation day at the Academy, when one of the five seats for each main character sits empty because one of them didn't make it through the year. This book, the first in the series, doesn't reveal everything, but it certainly makes you want to know what's coming next for the Fabulous Five, and you're more than ready for the next book, Bling Addiction, by the time you finish reading the last page.

The MTV Books are turning out to be some of the best new young adult books out there, and Cruel Summer is no exception. These titles are sure to interest even reluctant YA readers, who might just pick up a book good enough to get MTV's name on the cover.

Cruel Summer may not be the most original idea for a book, but there aren't too many completely original and unique ideas out there. The challenge for a writer seems to be making an old idea live again and keeping readers interested from beginning to end, a goal which Kylie Adams certainly achieves with this novel. The cliffhanger ending will have fans wanting to read the next book in the series as soon as it is available.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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