Thirteen-year-old, Elliot Allagash has been thrown out of nearly every private school in New York, it’s only because of his fathers rather large donation, that he probably won’t be thrown out of this one. On his first day there he pushes fellow thirteen-year-old, Seymour Herson on the stairs. Partly because he recognises Seymour to be on the bottom rung of the school hierarchy, but mostly because it was the most expedient way of testing his new boundaries.
In a bit of a twist on the old Hollywood trope of turning the dour brainiac, into the belle of the graduation ball. Elliot sets out on a three-year project to turn Seymour from the least popular boy in the school, to the most popular.
Elliot’s schemes and behind the scenes machinations are wonderfully wicked, he clearly doesn’t care what happens to whoever gets in the way, he also doesn’t know how to lose. Seymour will be popular whether he wants to be or not!
It’s not hard to like Seymour and enjoy his rise up the school’s ranks, and take a certain perverse delight in the schemes Elliot cooks up, but you quite rightly, never fully warm to Elliot.
To be honest there’s not a lot of plot, just a series of set piece schemes, interspersed with some interactions. Seymour and Elliot’s friendship is an interesting one, it is a friendship, if a bit one-sided and definitely unhealthy, (although you do get the impression, Elliot would like a ‘real’ friendship, but won’t allow himself one).
Seymour also strikes up somewhat of a connection with Elliot’s dad, sorta a mix of Seymour being the son he wished Elliot was, and that Seymour could be the kind of friend he knows his son needs.
When it call comes crashing down, as these things have to, you know it’ll be Seymour who bears the brunt of the fall out…
Mixed feelings on this one, there were lots of things to like, the characters were strong, the schemes as I mentioned earlier, provided a perverse delight to follow, and helped no doubt by his screen writing background, the author makes everything easy to visualise, in fact I think that is the main issue I have with the book, it feels a little too much like a movie. It takes the same shortcuts a movie does, but in a book form something seems missing.
That aside though, I’d still recommend reading it, because it’s a really fun read.