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Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner

Inventing Elliot

by Graham Gardner

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189794,351 (3.64)1
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    Simon Says by Elaine Marie Alphin (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Both YA novels about creating one's identity with psychological twists and turns for the reader.

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Elliot transfers into an exclusive private school, determined to put his dark past behind him. Things are not as they seem at Holminster High and the boy who was once ridiculed and tormented by his peers is suddenly offered the chance to see life from the other side of the fence and be one of the Guardians—a group of boys who keep the other students in line. An interesting and sometimes disturbing look at how a person can re-invent himself given the proper motivation. ( )
  vlcraven | Feb 16, 2015 |
About a boy who was a school bully victim who moves, changes, becomes a bully and has more than one life to live. ( )
  missnix | Aug 31, 2010 |
Richie's Picks: INVENTING ELLIOT by Graham Gardner, Dial Books, March 2004, ISBN 0-8037-2964-2

"And so I wrestle with the angel
To see who'll reap the seeds I sow
Am I the driver or the driven
Will I be damned to be forgiven
Is there anybody here but me who needs to know"
--Grateful Dead, "Victim or the Crime"

"Survival wasn't that difficult. It simply meant cutting off all the pieces of you that didn't fit. After a while, your new identity became second nature, as if you'd always been like you were now.
"The difficult part was managing and keeping apart all the different people you had to become."

INVENTING ELLIOT is a smart psychological YA thriller set in a private high school in which Elliot, a scarred victim of bullying at his previous schools, is given the chance to start over in a place where nobody knows him, and then finds that his careful efforts at creating himself a new image lead to his being adopted into the heart of the students' secret power structure where he is offered the opportunity to mete out the kind of arbitrary, sadistic punishment to vulnerable classmates that he himself had been subjected to in his previous life. Elliot's constant fear is that any reluctance to play the game will lead to his once again becoming a victim himself.

"I'm the king in fighting competition
and the other pieces
are there for my art and my tactics now.
All my games are won before they're played for
I have planned that no opposition can stage a fight
I'll play the game and never ever lose."
--Gentle Giant, "Playing the Game"

As most of us can imagine, being in his position means that Elliot will merely be trading one living hell for another. Elliot's deep fears, artfully hidden behind his newly minted veneer, are infectious. I was thoroughly on edge as I followed Elliot page by page.

"When I'm in the shower
I'm afraid to wash my hair
'Cause I might open my eyes
And find someone standing there"
--Rockwell, "Somebody's Watching Me"

Not having read 1984 since well back on the other side of that year, I was intrigued by the prominent role that Orwell's book plays in this story, with two schoolmates presenting their radically contrasting impressions of the book to Elliot. Through those contrasting visions put forth by his characters, the author provides additional fuel for Elliot's internal struggle, as well as tools for the reader to begin considering why the dynamics of bullying exist in schools and possibly why people in the larger society forever crap on each other as if it's an inherent part of being human.

INVENTING ELLIOT asks more questions than it answers. This exceptionally well-crafted tale will grab readers in its ever-tightening snare and leave them wrestling with their own beliefs about power and how it is used.

Richie Partington
BudNotBuddy@aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 24, 2009 |
not much action yet had an interesting climax and plot...reccommend to avid readers ( )
  hole-n-one42593 | Apr 23, 2008 |
If you are looking for a comedy, this is not a good book. Inventing Elliot is a book about a kid and the problems going on with his family. It is very interesting and I enjoyed reading this very much! INVENTING ELLIOT! ( )
  JonathanB8 | Jan 7, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014240344X, Paperback)

In this stunning first novel, Graham Gardner pays homage to Robert Cormier’s great The Chocolate War with a story about a boy trying to survive in a school run by a vicious secret society. But where Jerry Renault resists the system, only to succumb to it in the end, Elliot Sutton is more eager to do its bidding, and doesn’t take action to resist until it is almost too late. At first Elliot had hoped that it would be different at Holminster High. He carries the fear always--the fear of the beatings and much worse that made his life hell at his old school. But at Holminster High, Elliot can be the kind of person who avoids trouble by fitting in. He watches himself carefully every moment and shapes himself to be noticed just enough in the right way. Ironically, his strategy backfires when the Guardians (the secret three who control and terrorize Holminster High) select him as a candidate to be trained for their group.

After school, Elliot finds a friend in outcast Ben, but both boys know they can never acknowledge each other in the halls. When Elliot falls in love with bright, outspoken Louise, he feels he must wear yet another identity for her. Elliot sinks into numb isolation behind his masks when a crucial decision pushes him to take back his self with an act that could cost him dearly. Inventing Elliot is a heartrending, engrossing novel to be pondered and discussed. (Ages 12 and older)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Elliot, a victim of bullying, invents a calmer, cooler self when he changes schools in the middle of freshman year, but soon attracts the wrong kind of attention from the Guardians who "maintain order" at the new school.

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