Thursday, February 28, 2008

wrong character

Dramarama by E(mily) Prescott
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: YA fiction
Challenge: A-Z (title)
Summary/Review: E(mily) Prescott has clearly been to drama camp. She gets that part of the book right-on. The rest of the book is quite a disappointment, though. The characters are flat; our narrator, Sadye, is set up to learn a lot through the people she meets, the criticisms she gets, and the experiences she has at drama camp, but she doesn't. She makes a grand sacrifice that gets her kicked out of camp, but not because she's really learned anything, except that her best friend, Demi, has more talent than she does. She returns to her boring small town and continues to be the same person she was before camp, although we don't really get any details about it. Nor do we get much closure for Sadye. We learn where the future is taking Demi (NYU), but all we know about Sadye is that she has a summer internship in New York City after she graduates high school. There being every indication that Sadye is reasonably intelligent, it felt odd that there was no discussion of where she wanted to go to college, or where she applied or was accepted, even though we learn about Demi's college-choice process.

Not that I could really bring myself to care that much about what happened to her. I never found her to be a compelling character. Although she has thoughts and ideas, too often they seemed to come from nowhere, and every time someone tried to tell her something or teach her something, she got resentful, and failed to come even close to apprehending the lesson (which is not to say she was always wrong, but just that her continued failure to get the point became annoying).

I think this story would have been much more interesting if told from Demi's point of view. Here we had a character with some actual talent, as well as substantial issues to face. He's a black, gay teenager who comes from a primarily white world with parents who only pretend to be ok with his sexual orientation. When he gets to camp, we're given hints that, although he's still a minority by far (we're told there are fewer than 10 black campers), he's pleased to be with people with whom he feels like he can be black (this is the topic of a very disappointing scene between Demi and Sadye where he tries to talk to her about how he feels that she's trying to deny the fact that he's black, and she tries to explain that it just wasn't important to her, and wasn't that better than acting like it's a big deal -- but like most of the rest of the book, that scene just fizzled into nothing). More importantly, though, he can truly "come out" for the first time. He forms a crush, gets betrayed, and finds love, all in the span of a few weeks. This is the story I would have enjoyed reading, along with the entertaining stories about rehearsals and the like.

1 comment:

C. B. James said...

Thanks for your review. I gave the book four out of five stars so I clearly liked it more than you did. Here's my review

I guess I felt more for Sadye, though I think you are right about Demi being interesting enough for a book of his own. The author has a couple of other books which I think are about these characters. I think Dramarama is actually a sequel.

Anway, thanks for an interesting review and an interesting blog.