Submitter: This was recently weeded from a Teen Collection in a Michigan public library. For an author who’s name became synonymous with stories about teens suffering from fatal illnesses (long before John Green published Fault In Our Stars), this one was quite a departure. All things considered, it’s not surprising that it hasn’t checked out since 2011.
Prey puts a simply awful spin on the whole “Hot for Teacher” cliche: High school freshman, Ryan, and his history teacher, Ms. “Lori” Settles (who, I might add, regularly wears tight, revealing clothing and spike heels), meet and pretty much immediately begin a sexual relationship. This seems the sole focus of the book. Moral and legal consequences seem secondary. No lessons are learned and no one is really punished for what transpires. When it finally hits the fan, Lori gets off easy because she is, apparently, mentally unbalanced and because Ryan was of the “age of consent” when much of the, ahem, action took place. Oh, and the lawyer and judge were apparently seduced by how hot she was and took pity on her. Ryan doesn’t really seem to suffer from any real ill effects from the relationship either.
Alternating chapters reveal that the characters have no redeeming qualities at all: Lori tells how she picks a new student each year for such purposes and how she immediately knows Ryan is to be “the one.” Ryan is a pervert, plain and simple–far beyond the typical teen boy hormones. He is constantly talking about Lori’s physical assets, and a final (very creepy) chapter tells how he and Lori are still secretly in touch and how, this time, he is “in control.” Everyone comes across as loose or stalker-ish or both.
For such sensitive and delicate subject matter, this book seemed far too focused on the physical relationship between the characters (and even those are unimaginative). I find it hard to believe we never got any complaints about it from concerned parents. But then, it hasn’t circulated enough for that.
Holly: Maybe it would do better in the adult fiction section. I mean, I’m 40 and I loved Lurlene McDaniel when I was a teenager. It would be better to have more of a lesson to the story if it’s meant for a teen audience, but let’s be honest: there are plenty of hugely popular titles that I wish were handled differently. I think this particular choice from McDaniel might benefit from a more mature audience that likes drama, angst, and controversy in their fiction. Sounds like it really isn’t working in Submitter’s library, but they can rest easy that it is widely available through the Michigan inter-library loan system in case of a Lurlene McDaniel emergency.