The Julian Game
by Adele Griffin
Release Date: August 26, 2010
2010 G.P. Putnam Sons
Softcover Edition; 208 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: ARC from Publisher
3.5 / 5 Star
All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself - and igniting Ella's rage.
As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter.
The Julian Game was a quick, easy read about revenge and the lengths one will go to be included in a popular group in school, and how easily those lengths can backfire on you. While I found the novel to be somewhat predictable and formulaic, there were some interesting moments and some witty dialogue in the writing that I quite enjoyed.
One of the things that really has not changed since my high school days is the concept of revenge and the lenghts one will go to get that revenge; I think just the means of getting that revenge has changed. With the onset of technology in our society today, the possibilities for revenge are endless and that is easily demonstrated in this novel when a reluctant Raye and a headstrong Ella set up their plot against Julian on Facebook. Do I think something like is possible today? Absolutely, and unfortunately, things like that happen all of the time. These are things I am not allowed to even discuss online, but I know for a fact that these things can and do happen. What I would have like to have seen is a little more 'meat' to the story as I felt somewhat disappointed by some of the events against Julian, as if they were just filler pages to get to the revenge against Raye. I also would have liked to have seen more repercussions for students using a school webpage the way it was done as in a real school I know that type of slander would not have lasted for long and students would not have gotten away with it; there are a lot of restrictions in a school for that kind of thing. There was no mention of anything happening after Raye and Natalya complained to school administrators.
One of my favourite characters in this novel was Natalya. I loved her direct attitude and her no-nonsense approach to life. She was very comfortable in her own skin and accepted things the way they were. She also understood people in a way that naive Raye did not and I really wanted to shake Raye at times. I can see why people will change and do things they are not proud of just to be popular and to be thought part of the in-group, but Raye was a frustrating character as she couldn't see what was in front of her face. She was likeable, yes, but I liked Natalya a lot more. I didn't feel anything for Julian, but I loved his friend Henry and really hoped something would come out of that connection. It's a credit to Ms. Griffin's writing as I realized at the end I was being led in my emotions to feel the way I did, even feeling the way I did towards Raye as she was not always likeable at times when she got caught up in the Ella machinations. Yet, I did not feel sorry for her when she became the victim of vicious lies herself. How to explain? I don't believe in bullying, but I also believe that "what goes around, comes around" and you need to be careful in what you do. I was proud of Raye when she finally stood up for herself towards the end and to keep going to school amidst all the bullying and everything else certainly took a lot of courage.
The Julian Game was an enjoyable novel that delves into many social issues. It deals with teen cyber bullying which is becoming a real problem as well as insecurity issues and the lengths to which one will go to be popular. While I found some of the lingo and language between the characters to be a little too much at times, and the plot was somewhat predictable, I still had fun with this novel and look forward to reading more books by this author.