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Ice Queen
As if high school outcast Blair Evans doesn’t have enough trouble dealing with the everyday viciousness of teenage girls, the bull’s-eye on her back grows exponentially when she starts dating the Ice Queen’s ex-boyfriend. Her world is turned upside down when the Ice Queen deploys the digital weapons kids now have in the palms of their hands. In this all-too-real modern Mean Girls tale, the legal vulnerabilities teenagers face in today's cyber world are illustrated by the catastrophic turn of events they unleash on Blair’s life. She finds herself the target of revenge porn, snared in a sexting trap, and propelled into a nasty cyber war. Even Blair’s new star-athlete boyfriend ends up in a tangle of legal troubles and falls prey to the Ice Queen’s seduction plans. Blair can either succumb to the relentless bullying or take on the law and defeat the Ice Queen to win her boyfriend back and reclaim her life.
With a fresh voice and a keen comprehension of the lives of present-day teens, this somber cautionary tale follows 16-year-old Blair as she navigates high school life as the prime target for the mean girl clique. An issue of mistaken identity in freshman year complicates things with the Ice Queen, leader of the mean girls. Blair tries to keep to her small group of friends, but then she gets an invitation to an exclusive pool party full of cool kids. While there, she meets Davey and his friend, Frank, and finds herself having a good time. Little does she know that Davey is the Ice Queen’s prized boyfriend, popular athlete David. When Davey snaps a photo of Blair in her underwear, someone texts it to other students, and the police are alerted, the two become tangled in arcane laws regarding sexting and bullying, leaving them to juggle felony charges with college admissions essays.

A reliance on somewhat technical language where legal issues are explained may serve to pull some readers out of the story. The character voices are all strong in their own right, but when the legalities come into play, the texture of the narrative changes, becoming much more adult and somewhat awkward. In addition, Blair seems to have little difficulty getting time alone with David in her bedroom and going out to a club that serves alcohol. This degree of apparent inattention from her otherwise caring parents may strike readers as unlikely and distract from the book’s message.

With a clear understanding of the teenage mind, the story moves very naturally through the day-to-day activities of a group that’s too mature for childish things but lacks the knowledge and experience to navigate the adult world. One of the highlights of the novel is the depiction of healthy, cooperative relationships with adults, with no stereotypical arguments to be seen. A diverse cast and the inclusion of characters outside of the school microcosm gives the story an authentic feel and adds varying perspectives. This is a vivid and well-constructed portrayal of teens struggling with 21st-century concerns.

Takeaway: This timely contemporary novel introduces teens to the social and legal risks of sexting while pulling them in with strong, authentic character voices.

Great for fans of Judy Blume, Jennifer Brown, Laura Steven, Helen Schulman.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A