A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fans may be inspired to read other books in the series. Also, parents could use one of the book's pranks -- someone post naked pictures of one of the play's stars on the schools website -- as a reason to review Common Sense Media's tips for being a good digital citizen.
Bryan prefers to be "a supporting character or background player" at his private school but learns to take on more of a lead role.
Positive Role Models
Bryan is a likable, funny narrator who tries to get to the bottom of the mystery and save his best friend.
Violence & Scariness
Some of the pranks that befall the Dorothys are pretty severe -- one star has an allergic reaction and needs a shot to stay alive, for example.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bryan asks Sam if she was "locking lips" with her boyfriend, and checks to see if she is still wearing a unicorn necklace, a sign that she's still a virgin. Bryan is gay, but closeted and doesn't pursue any romance here. Another character's nude pictures are posted on the school's website.
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Products & Purchases
A few references: Pop-Tarts, some label names, and mentions of movies and TV shows.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book features a gay protagonist (though he's still in the closet and doesn't pursue any romantic relationships). Parents should also know that some of the pranks that befall the Dorothys are pretty severe -- one star has an allergic reaction and needs a shot to stay alive, while another has naked pictures posted of her on the school's website. Parents may want to use this latter prank as a reason to review Common Sense Media's tips for being a good digital citizen.
Is It Any Good?
This is pretty tame fare in comparison to the author's controversial novel about oral sex, Rainbow Party. Readers may like some of the clever details here: For Bryan's private school's production of Wizard of Oz, four students are cast in the lead role (that makes the rich parents happy); another scene has Bryan and his best friend Sam going to an outrageously large stuffed-animal emporium to pick out Totos for the show. But the pranks being pulled on the Dorothys seem dark in contrast to all the light, funny touches. Is the author trying for the dark comedy of the movie Heathers? This shift in tone makes it hard for readers to know how they should be feeling.
The book is pretty meandering, and the payoff isn't big enough. It's not really a mystery who is behind the crimes -- and readers may be disappointed that nothing really happens to the mean rich girl at the end -- at least, nothing hugely publicly humiliating. They also may be surprised that Bryan discusses his sexuality a bit but remains closeted. But perhaps that will be further developed in the next installment of the series. Yawn.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.