Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: The Queen Bee of Bridgeton

The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois is the story of 15 year old Sonya who wants nothing more out of life than to be able to dance. She understands that homework is important, but it would always take a back seat to her dancing, if her older sister didn't push her so hard to make something better for herself. She attends the prestigious Bridgeton Academy and for years she been anonymous. But she attracts the attention of Will, one of the most popular and notorious boys on campus and suddenly, everything starts to change. People start noticing her, and not all of the attention she starts getting is good. She somehow attracts the attention of the schools group of 'mean girls' and she's shown a side to people she's never seen before.

Sonya doesn't really understand cruelty. She doesn't understand why people do things deliberately with the intention to hurt or harm. It's not in her nature. So when the mean girls in school start popping up, Sonya doesn't really understand what's going on, or why people could be like this, but she definitely wants to help those who have been harmed by this group of mean girls. But, the mean girls have a system worked out, a system where they rule the school and they really don't like this girl getting in their way.

I really liked Sonya's character. She was just a genuinely nice person who looked for the good in everyone. She is both observant and blind, seeing a lot that most people overlook, but missing out on a lot of details that are right in front of her. She's fairly innocent without being completely naive and I found her to be completely believable. That's about the way I'd expect a 15 year old with a good heart who only cares about dancing to react. But, Sonya was the only character I completely believed in. Most of the other characters in the novel were well written, well rounded and well developed, but they were somehow missing that solid ring of authenticity I got from Sonya.

I liked Will. Mostly. I found the game he played with his jock buddies to be absolutely and completely reprehensible, which gave me a bad taste for this kid from the beginning. I don't know if high school kids really play games where they get points for sexual acts. Some probably do. I don't want to think about it. (Not in a, let me stay naive-stick my head in the sand way, but in a — if I spend to much time thinking about this I might hit something-way). It disgusts me. Completely and totally. So, I knew I'd struggle with Will when the only thing Sonya knows about him is that she thinks he has sad eyes and that every time she sees him, he's leaving some dark and semi-public place with a half naked, very disheveled girl. So, when he approaches her (wait, me?! Are you talking to me?!) she's a little confused, somewhat concerned, and a lot not interested. And I loved that. I loved that Sonya told him no the first time he asked her out, and that Sonya wasn't afraid to be true to herself.

I will admit that while I didn't guess every single plot detail, I did see a lot of the big stuff coming. Which is okay. Every book doesn't have to be a complete and total surprise, but a lot of the stuff I'm assuming was supposed to be shocking, wasn't. Sometimes this bothers me, but it didn't this time. Which is, of course, a very good thing.

I thought that the book was very well written and it had a great pace. The character development was wonderful, both individually and in relationships and interactions and I loved the speed at which DuBois had Will and Sonya's relationship progress. And, while I was initially very put off by Will, he really wanted to do right by Sonya and he tried, hard. You could see that. It was clear that he was unsure of himself for the first time around a girl and I found that very endearing and very believable. When you are completely confident in your ability to make a conquest and have never tried to have a relationship, it's going to be hard and it's going to get awkward sometimes.

I was explaining this book to someone, mentioning what the book was about and things and they mentioned that it sounded like a cross between Mean Girls and Step Up. And, ya... I'd have to agree with them. The school itself isn't an artistic school, and Sonya is the only one who dances or anything in the story but elements from both movies are present in the book, and I can easily see how you would enjoy this book if either (or both) of those movies are ones that you enjoy watching.

The book also offers a sneak peek at the beginning of book two in the series. While I genuinely liked this one and thought it was well written with well developed characters, I don't really feel like it needs to be a series. I felt like the characters stories were finished. Obviously, there is the possibility for more to tell, because people continue to live, but I thought this book was perfectly complete. So, I don't know if I'm going to pick up the sequel(s) to this one yet. I haven't decided. I might be happy to just let these characters rest in my mind, leave them with their (mostly) happy endings.

*Disclaimer — I received a copy of this book from the author as part of a Teen Book Scene Tour.