rating: 2 of 5 stars
In spite of having read the insubstantial description on the back, I expected more out of this novel. Why? Because of the author. The funny part is that the subject matter ended up being about the same as it was in the last two books I read and loved by him, Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher: loyalty, marriage, friendship between sexes, competition, selfhood. However, Election belongs on the Young Adult shelves of the local library, not in the general fiction section alongside his other adult novels. I have read other novels that address teenage protagonists and high school settings but that are written with an adult level of language and understanding in mind. Election is not such a novel. Had I read this during one of my reading binges back in junior high school, I most likely would have adored it. The content would have been just "adult" enough to appease my more mature sensibilities, but the "easy reading" factor would have allowed me to fly through it the way I needed to back then. Reading it now, however, I want to linger over passages and to think a little more deeply, even as I crave plotlines and characters that keep me plowing forward through a novel. Election does not allow me to linger at all, since every few paragraph the POV changes to a different character, none of whom spend much time at all reflecting on their surroundings, other characters, or dilemmas to which readers (like me) might relate. The dilemmas are certainly there, but they are entirely written into the plot (even if they are the results of characters' traits, such as Tracy's cutthroatness or Tammy's vengence).
As a young adult book, Election deserves at least three stars. However, for my own enjoyment purposes and for the purposes of recommending it to other readers I know and respect, two stars will suffice.
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