Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci

Remember back in the high school days of what you thought cool was and those who were considered cool did you ever wonder about them or what they did or what problems they may have faced in life? Libby Brin is the cool girl. She has a wild character, panache and even seems courageous. Her life seems free from too much attention from parents or even teachers. She seems as if she could do or have anything in her life without major consequences.
Yet, life isn't always so carefree for her, inside of herself she is looking to be different or to feel something, anything really. She is oblivious to how cool she seems to others yet understands that she is popular. Her view of herself isn't the same as those around her and what they think of her. She has to make choices, although they didn't always seem significant enough in general, they were tough for her. A reality check comes into play a little bit for her when she is highly encouraged by a teacher to sign up for volunteering at the Zoo. This is where life gets a bit interesting for her and she meets teens from her class who are often the brunt of a lot of jokes.
I wasn't always clear what Libby was thinking or feeling even in her connection with them or how valid her loyalty was with any of her friends but there was a moment when I felt hopeful for Libby and that she might actually have a new perspective. I did find while reading the book that my own prejudices and perspectives about the high school world were tested and that's not a bad thing. I don't think this book was so stereotypical with its characters as I've heard others mention as I think it was my own view of them and what I was thinking was skewed.
Anytime, a book brings out such thought-provoking feelings and makes me think of things that are even uncomfortable for me I'd have to say I learned something and whether you think that lesson is good or bad will be up to you as much as it was up to me in this instance.
As far as minor characters go, I feel that Tina, Sheldon and Sid deserve a mention. I wonder if I was like Tina in high school and I think I wish I was but deep down I feel I wasn't as bright and confident as she was. I liked how overwhelming the odds were stacked up against her each day but that didn't stop her from being accomplishing tasks that she set out to do. I even understood her cool factor worship a little bit of Libby and her hope of what could happen for her friend too. In the end, I can still feel the sting of her disappointment. I love how well-developed these characters were and the I found myself wishing that the ending hadn't of come so fast.
Perhaps, I was feeling melancholy as I read this book because I found myself wondering where all these characters would be ten or even twenty years after high school. What would be realistic for them then? I'm sure that was just because this summer was my high school reunion which I was unable to attend (haha). :D A little bit ironic, I thought.
Overall, just a note that for me, although I'm sure it is sadly realistic for teens and what they deal with, I wouldn't recommend this book casually because this book contains use of profanity, drinking, and instances of sexual activity. I know I curiously finished it, although, maybe because I know nothing of being a teen in this type of world since I made different choices and grew up in a highly religious environment. It was interesting but personally I'm glad my life as a teen was different from Libby's.
Maybe this book wasn't my favorite or even the type I would usually read but I do like this author's personality and I like following her on Twitter. I have seen her in interviews (see what I mean in Author Mix) and I think her writing is talented. It may be a guilty pleasure but I'm still curious about reading her other books.

Young Adult, 176 pages, Candlewick; First Edition edition (February 14, 2006)
My rating: 2 stars

You don't have to take my word for it:

Neary Notes

The Hiding Spot

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Hamilcar Barca said...

kewl review, Julie. but i for one have absolutely no desire to relive my high school days.

Julie said...

Thanks, Hamilcar and I don't blame you in the least. Maybe it's silly but I like reminiscing sometimes. :) Nice to hear from you!