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Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke

Boy Heaven

by Laura Kasischke

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This is hardly a typical book selection for me. It had been sitting on my shelf for a year already by the time I gave it a try, and even then it was just the book I grabbed blindly on my way to bed for the night. To its credit, I read the entire book in a couple of days. I'm not normally a fan of this kind of literature. It's the kind that they call young adult in some bookstores only because the main characters are teenagers. The thing is, I've read quite a few books targeted at adults that broach fewer "taboos" than this book did and they do it with a greater sensibility in their approach. This one was a bit over the top.

It was a pretty good ghost story. Or maybe it's wrong to call it a ghost story. Is a ghost only a ghost if the person they are born out of is already dead? Maybe I'm just mincing the details too much. Anyway, the thing that this book does best is take the reader along on the psychological train wreck of being haunted or stalked by something creepy. It follows three teenage cheerleaders, Kristy, Kristi, and Desiree, at cheerleading camp (yes, I almost put the book down for that alone). They are your typical self-absorbed, petty, contradictory messes that you have to anticipate a writer creating as filler in most high school dramas, basically three overfilled barges of mental baggage. Top it off with the story being written in the first-person view of one of those aforementioned messes, Kristy Sweetland, and you've got a world-class narcissist on your hands.

It opens with an unplanned afternoon excursion to go skinny dipping at a local lake that goes terribly wrong thanks to a few relatively creepy local boys playing stalker after crossing paths with the girls at the local gas station. Okay, so the beginning reads like just about a thousand movies I've consistently avoided like the plague of American cinema that they are. There's the predictable chase through the backroads of nowheresville, the narrow escape, and the triumphant taunting of their pursuers wherein they decide to give them a taste of what they missed by baring all from the waist up as they cruise past the gawking hormonal creeps. Yes, I even suffered through the nauseating descriptions of each girl's chest as compared to that of insecure Kristy. Where it all picks up is in the aftermath of that ill-fated trip.

Back at camp, their victory is short lived. Of course, the stalkers somehow aren't through with the girls yet, not after getting a look at the three of them topless. The girls try to return to business as usual, Kristi going back to sulking, Desiree angling her way into the pants of the attractive male camp counselor, and Kristy standing by to envy her loose friend for her carefree and vivacious ways and of course, obsessing over how every other girl at camp views her. The author does a pretty thorough job of making you root for the stalkers or perhaps an oversized alligator from the lake with an overdeveloped appetite for self-obsessed teenage girls. That last part was just a suggestion, but I think it would have been worth a closer look.

Anyway, the boys begin turning up in the woods outside the cabins to stare and generally creep the girls out and one by one the three of them begin to unravel in their own little ways. This was the real fun of the story, comparing their different descents into paranoia and the measures they went to to protect themselves, none of which really helped. If they were even remotely likable people, I suppose at one point I might have started feeling bad for them, especially the sulky Kristi who seemed fit for a straight jacket pretty early on, but that never was the case here so it kept the fun simple for me. I could have done without the chronicles of Desiree and her boy toy, but I suppose it was a necessary piece of the whole unfortunate puzzle. You can't have a sex-crazed supporting character sit around eating ham sandwiches for the entire book…unless of course she's waiting to get groove back or something.

Overall, if this book were made into a movie that stayed true to the original text, it would be rated R for sure, and not just because of the flashing scene toward the beginning. There is enough sex in this otherwise to make sure of that. But it's a good psychological thrill ride. There are some pretty tense moments. The writer has an absolute mastery of metaphor and the descriptions of everything from the scenery to the characters' expressions are chock full of vivid imagery. The plot is a mixture of clichés and overdone twists, but the end scene and the final plot twist are both fairly alarming. Bottom line is while I wouldn't make the mistake of suggesting this to any random teenager, I wouldn't call it a bad book for the rest of us. Give it a try when you're after a fast, mindless summer read and I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. ( )
  matthewbloome | May 19, 2013 |
This is one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book. I love the writing, I love the format of the book (story within a story within another story), I also love that the characters aren't sympathetic or unsympathetic. This book is addicting, it's easy to get through and the tangents are all foreshadowing. Even with the large amount of foreshadowing, the book is written in such a way where the end comes as a complete shock. The book is realistic, it's like an urban legend/campfire story, and every time I read it I love it all over again. The only thing that I would ever even consider changing about this book is a couple of the tangents towards the end. But 95% of Kristi's tangents are all interesting. ( )
  xwhiterose08x | Aug 13, 2012 |
Reviewed by Samantha G. for TeensReadToo.com

Seventeen-year-old Kristy Sweetland is a pretty, blonde cheerleader away for the summer at cheer camp. Bored out of her mind, Kristy and her best friend, Desiree, join up with fellow camper Kristi to skip the cheer camp practices and hit Lovers Lake. Perfect, sunny days do not happen often, so why waste the chance to get a good tan and chill on the beach?

The girls stop at a sketchy gas station to fuel up on diet sodas and candy bars. Of course, the three cute girls in shorts and bathing suits catch the attention of two "grubby" guys hanging out in their car. Kristy makes the mistake of smiling at the guys, which completely freaks out Desiree and Kristi. Quick to hit the road, the girls are shocked when the guys begin to follow them. Intending to give them the thrill of their lives, all three girls flash the guys when they pass at a steep turnaround.

Once back at camp, the girls laugh off the incident and are proud of themselves for getting rid of the guys. All of a sudden, though, strange things start happening around the camp. Kristi hears all sorts of noises, including screeches and crunching branches. Then she feels like someone is always watching her and claims she talked to the guys out in the woods. The girls begin to believe these guys are stalking them at camp, yet they can't prove anything.

Each girl handles the stress of the situation completely differently. Desiree hooks up with a hot lifeguard and becomes intent on meeting him out in the woods alone. Kristi refuses to eat or shower, essentially becoming a prisoner in her cabin. Kristy thinks back on her life and how things could have been different for her. With Kristi essentially out of commission, Desiree and Kristy find themselves in for the shock of their lives one night out at Lovers Lake.

The ending twist of BOY HEAVEN is not to be missed. I found myself speeding through this book to find out what exactly happened to the three girls. The suspense builds with each page and the end is straight out of an urban legend. A must-read for fans of thrills and chills. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060813164, Paperback)

They planned on a joyride in a convertible on a hot summer day. They planned on skinny-dipping in a beautiful, secluded lake. They planned on making it back to cheerleading camp before anyone noticed they were gone.

The three girls were seventeen, with perfect tans, perfect bodies, and the perfect day. But then Kristy Sweetland smiled . . . at the wrong time . . . in the wrong place . . . at the wrong boys.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

While attending cheerleading camp, seventeen-year-old Kristy Sweetland and two of her friends begin to have forebodings after an encounter with three teenaged boys.

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