For fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and Looking for Alaska (as advertised on Amazon), Elizabeth LaBan’s debut novel follows the lives of two boys, Duncan and Tim. At the Irving School, it’s Duncan’s senior year and tradition states that seniors are left special ’treasures’ in their rooms by their predecessors. Duncan receives the smallest corner room, infamous because of its previous inhabitant, Tim, an albino boy who experienced a turbulent senior year. The treasure Tim leaves him is a bunch of recorded cds; evidence, Tim states, for his Tragedy Paper, a required essay for all Irving School seniors. The cds relate the events of Tim’s previous half-year at Irving School when he was secretly in love with Vanessa, plagued by her boyfriend Patrick, and the climatic events of the Game, a senior tradition. Although Duncan does not want anything to do with Tim, the story sucks him in and forces him to see the consequences of his choices and decisions so that he, hopefully, does not make the same mistakes that Tim did. This book contains secrets, romance, peer and social pressure, crises of self-doubt, and, of course, the tragedy.
While I enjoyed the story and the raw handling of the characters, I still find myself feeling a need to read the book again to fully taste the whole effect. I think it will be interesting to see how well this book does in the coming year, especially as far as awards and nominations. One very well could write a paper on many of the ideas, themes, patterns in this book; it would be a great study for an upper English class.