Plot Summary: Jane dreams of being chosen as the freshman member a dominant school clique made up of one girl from each class. When her wish is granted, and she is offered a place in their group, Jane discovers the terrible price of their particular kind of popularity. There is a sinister secret to their power, one that will change Jane forever.
Awhile ago, I read BLISS by Lauren Myracle. I didn’t care for it much because the ending confused me. Then I found out that it was the second book in the story, the first book being RHYMES WITH WITCHES. So I picked up a copy from the library, hoping it would clear some things up.
I think would have enjoyed these books better if I’d read them in the proper order. BLISS is better written and plotted than RHYMES, and I liked the characters a whole lot better. That made RHYMES a little hard to get in to. Then again, if I’d read RHYMES first, I might never have read BLISS.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
RHYMES WITH WITCHES is your typical mean-high-school-girls story. Not my cup of tea, so keep that in mind as you read this review.
Jane has a driving desire to be popular. She wants it so badly that she’ll do almost anything to get it. And keep it. And the things she (and the rest of her clique, called The Bitches) does, both knowingly and unknowingly, are awful. Because of that, I couldn’t stand her. Only a truly selfish and cowardly person will do things like that, and I don’t believe in setting that kind of example for teenage girls. But that’s just my own opinion and belief system. If your belief system is different, more power to you. :)
Setting Jane’s likability aside, I want to examine the story’s arc. Jane starts off as a nobody, with an uncoordinated nobody for a best friend, and a geek who has a crush on her. Then she’s recruited by The Bitches, stops talking to her best friend and geek friend, and then finds out that in order to stay in The Bitches she must do terrible things to other people. She’s bothered by it, but she still does it.
Then, when trying to help one of the victims of The Bitches, the tables turn and she loses her place within the clique – replaced by the very person she was trying to help. In the end, Jane goes back to being a nobody with her geek friend, minus her best friend. The shape of the story is fine up to this point, but the ending is too abrupt. It ends right when you expect Jane to try harder. Instead, she gives up. It's also confusing since Lurl’s role is never really explained (it’s explained in BLISS, but there's no hint of a sequel in the making).
The ending is also very similar to BLISS in that both main characters don’t seem to grow or learn from anything. Both just accept their demoted and miserable statuses as though there are no other options. To me, this sends a disturbing message to teen girls: “If someone is hurting you or your friends, don't bother to do anything about it. Just take it lying down.” I don’t agree with any part of that.
I don’t need a happy ending where the main character conquers all. But I do need the main character to at least try to make things better for herself, even if she fails miserably. Even if she makes things worse. At least she’s tried, and didn’t let herself become a chronic victim whimpering in the corner. Jane let herself remain a victim, and that I just can’t respect.