Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wuthering High

Now that I’m back in the United States, I had to hit the local public library. But what to choose? I feel a bit out of the reading loop, so I decided to check out what the kids are reading—literally. I browsed through the Amazon bestsellers list and somehow ended up in the teen section. I compiled a huge list of “to reads” and started with Cara Lockwood’s Wuthering High.

As a Brontë fanatic, I couldn’t resist the title. And the blurb sounds interesting—a boarding school run by the ghosts of dead authors.

The premise is intriguing, but I’m not yet sold on the execution. Lockwood seems a bit confused about her audience—is it teeny boppers or English majors?

The book is drenched in pop culture references—dooming it to obscurity in a few years. Miranda, the heroine, references iPods, MySpace, Juicy Couture, and Ricki Lake (Ricki Lake, seriously?).

Yet, at the same time, the teachers at the school are Coach H, Ms. W, and Headmaster B. I could figure out the teachers were Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and Charlotte Brontë. But how would a preteen reader (or teen, for that matter) have a clue? even after Lockwood reveals their identities at the end of the novel?

I was also rather disturbed by Lockwood’s characterizations of these literary greats. Charlotte Brontë is a harpy, and Emily Brontë is an insane villainess. Granted, I didn’t know either woman personally, and I am sure each had her flaws, but I found these characterizations practically libelous. (And the disclaimer "[a]ny resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental" is an absolute farce.)

Of course, I am a sucker for a series. And Miranda is having a romance with Heathcliff (the Heathcliff), so despite my less-than-stellar review, I will have to head back to the library for Lockwood’s sequel.

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