Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to school: a sinister booklist

Because it's not just clean white notebooks and pep rallies.

Bray, Libba. A Great and Terrible Beauty.
After her mother's death, Gemma must leave India and the only home she's ever known to attend Spence Academy, a girls' boarding school in England. There she begins having strange visions and discovers a mysterious place known as the realms. She blackmails her way in a clique of friends and brings them with her to explore the realms, where they enjoy freedoms they will never have in their futures as Victorian wives. Meanwhile, they try to unlock the secrets of the burned-out East Wing of the school and the mysteries surrounding the class of 1871.

Handler, Daniel. The Basic Eight.
A group of eight surreally pretentious high school students are the focus of this satirical novel about dating, absinthe, murder, and the media. Written in the style of a highly-edited journal, the dark humor is reminiscent of the author's acclaimed children's series A Series of Unfortunate Events. But don't be fooled – this is definitely not a children's book.

Perrotta, Tom. Election.
Darkly comic satire about a high school election for student body president. Tracy Flick, popular, ambitious and hiding a scandalous secret, is the clear front-runner until an idealist teacher encourages jock Paul Warren to enter the race and give Tracy a run for her money.

Pullman, Phillip. His Dark Materials series.
Young, orphaned Lyra Belacqua lives among scholars at Oxford's Jordan College in a world just a little different from ours. Her sheltered life is abruptly changed when her uncle Lord Asriel arrives with news of mystery and danger in the far North, and soon Lyra is drawn into a search for her missing friend Roger, leading to even larger and more dangerous adventures.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter series.
Obviously. And let's skip the synopsis on this one, shall we?

Sittenfeld, Curtis. Prep.
Indiana student Lee Fiora wins a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school in New England, where she finds herself an outsider among the wealthy students. After carefully ascending the school's social ladder she learns how precarious popularity can be.

Tartt, Donna. The Secret History.
A small group of students in a strangely isolated Classical Greek program are involved in a murder. Richard Papen is the newcomer of this group and struggles to hide his humble origins while trying to understand the complex and secretive relationships between his classmates, including how they drew him in and involved him in a second murder.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments!


Anonymous said...

I've read the His Dark Materials trilogy and I'm quite excited for the movie version of The Golden Compass. I'm not sure they'd ever be able to make a decent movie of The Amber Spyglass, though. I'm quite appalled at the previews of the movie for The Dark is Rising, which is a series I loved SO MUCH and the stupid movie makers TORE IT APART and ruined the whole thing. I'm entirely bitter about it, but the series if absolutely wonderful!

3goodrats said...

I have a mixture of anticipation and fear for the Golden Compass. I hope hope hope the movie does justice to this fantastic book!

A. Leigh said...

My mum is a librarian, so she gets a lot of books as an advanced reader. ANywho, I loved the Libba Bray book. That's one she got as an advanced reader. I really want to read the new Daniel Handler book. Bit of trivia: He plays accordian for the Magnetic Fields, and interviewed Stephen Merritt for the book that goes along with '69 Love Songs'.

3goodrats said...

Oh, thanks for the info! Does he have a book newer than Adverbs? I still haven't gotten to that one yet!

Kevin said...

Geronimo Rex by Barry Hannah

One of the most grotesque coming-of-age stories I've ever read, most of which tracks the career of young Harriman Munroe at a small Mississippi college. It's been years since I've read it, but I recall amusing prose, sexual interludes, pistols being pointed at school chapel organists, and run-ins with White Supremacists.

If you are at all prone to self-loathing, you'll feel much better about yourself after spending a few hours in the company Harriman Munroe. He's impossible to like.

Elizabeth said...

I can highly recommend the Pullman series, the Harry Potter series, Prep, and The Secret History. All fantastic. You may also like A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews about a young Mennonite girl's coming of age in rural Manitoba.

Anonymous said...

Maximum Ride by James Patterson and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; both are the first in a series and both are incredible.