Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Market, by J. M. Steele

One night, on an anonymous tip, Kate discovers a website that purports to be a market. But this "market" doesn't tade in the usual commodities -- it rates the popularity and desirability of the girls in her high school. When Kate shows it to her friends, the girls are initially disgusted, but ultimately intrigued at the possibility of playing the market by investing in Kate and inflating her value from "junk" to "blue chip" -- with the goal of cashing in on the gain. But as her "value" starts to climb, Kate learns that there are other "investors" who are eyeing her and that speculation -- even in popularity -- can have dangerous side effects.

A bit heavy-handed and simplistic, the premise makes this book worth reading, but just barely. The (anonymous) authors are slick and on a mission to sell their story as a parable on the perils of popularity. In case you don't pick that up from the main plot, they have weaved in some subplots that tell the same message. The overall effect is a book that seems over-engineered -- like it was the result of a focus group rather than the heart and soul of a living writer. That's not to say that the story is formulaic, but the ingredients certainly are.

No comments: