the boyfriend list* by e. lockhart (the lack of capitalization is not my doing)
Before leaving school today, I grabbed four books that interested me. I chose to read this one first because it was short. Yes, I admit it: I chose the skinniest book — it’s the second-last day of school, okay?
I had some preconceptions when I started this book. The first is that I pictured the protagonist, Ruby (Roo) as a mini-Zooey Deschanel type, based solely on the picture on the cover. This was reinforced by the description of her fashion sense, but not much else.
My second preconception was that, because it was set in a “prep school”, I would find it unrealistic. Having worked in a number of private schools, I’m often frustrated by how private school students are presented in books. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as Gossip Girl, this was not.
the boyfriend list* is the first in a series of four, but it works as a standalone book. The author uses some gimmicks, like lists and footnotes. Some readers might find these distracting. Considering that I used the word gimmicks, I might be one of these people. You do get used to it after a while, as it helps to establish the character and her tone.
The plot is pretty believable, if a bit dramatic. Ruby is in the middle of a social-life meltdown which may or may not be her fault. The story is told in the first person, but the author does manage to present varying perspectives.
The story moves along quickly, and there’s a little bit of mystery. Ruby keeps hinting at something that has happened, but the incident isn’t explained until later in the book. Rather than feeling baited, I was intrigued, and was fairly satisfied when I got to the explanation. There was a subplot about Ruby’s parents that I didn’t see coming, but it worked, and added some closure to her story.
Ruby is a believable character. I found her voice realistic, and the emotions described through the first person p.o.v. were credible. The least believable character was Jackson, at least until we saw the jerky side of him.
While this wasn’t the best YA book I’ve read lately, it was enjoyable, and I’ll probably read the three remaining books in the next week or so. I found myself caring about what happened to Ruby, and that’s enough to make me want to keep reading.