Review: Prey

Prey – Lurlene McDaniel

I knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book, knew that it wouldn’t be good by any objective standard.  But female teachers seducing students is a hot topic in the world and in YA books, so I was interested to see what a book handling it poorly would look like.

Narrated in turn by the three major characters, it never rises above a superficial portrayal of any of them.  Lori, the sexy teacher was abused as a child by her father and now sees all grown men as predators.  She also talks about young boys like their youth will somehow be imparted to her, like she can suck it out of them:

Being with Ryan feeds something deep inside me I can’t describe.  Such a beautiful boy.  And so willing and eager to make me happy.  His enthusiasm is an elixir.  Even the way he avoids eye contact with me in the classroom is exciting.  This thing between us is like water simmering on a low, constant fire.  I need him.  He makes me feel alive.  Especially now.

 The occasional chapters told through her eyes make her less sympathetic and more flatly evil.  Ryan, a 16-year-old high school freshman, is handsome and popular with a dead mother and an uninvolved father.  The fact that he’s at least a year older than normal isn’t addressed, and his friends are the same age.  He’s also already taken the SATs and his father is hassling him about getting into college.  As of his first day of high school.  And then there is Honey who has been Ryan’s friend since they were little but is secretly in love with him, she’s pretty boring but necessary to the plot. 

The whole book is ridiculous.  Timeline’s don’t make sense.  Obviously the age thing doesn’t either.  I guess it’s a way of making Ryan seem vulnerable and youngish while making most of the sex they have legal.  The characters use weird slang, ending sentences with “girlfriend” and using the term “gal pal” pretty frequently. 

All of this said, part of the reason I read it was because when I was in middle school, I loved Lurlene McDaniel.  She even came and spoke at my school once.  Her “One Last Wish” books about dying teenagers?  They were probably horrible books, but I loved them.  This is a much younger book than Doing It or Boy Toy, and maybe there’s an 11-year-old who doesn’t really know what high school is actually like and will enjoy this without noticing its flaws.

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