Love Drugged by James Klise. (Grades 9+) Flux, September 2010. 304 pages. Reviewed from purchased copy.
Someone at his high school knows Jamie's secret.
It's not his best friend. It's not his girlfriend. It's not his teacher.
Someone at his high school knows that Jamie's gay. And before the secret spreads all over school, changing everything, Jamie's determined to fix the problem. He's determined to be straight. He has the miracle pill that will help him. If it doesn't kill him first.
First of all, I have to give a shout-out to Lisa Novak who designed the cover. The book's got a wildly intriguing premise, but the cover caught my eye before I knew what the book was about. I saw the cover and I thought I want to read that book. I just love the cover.
I also love what's inside the book. I love the characters, especially Jamie. He's a kid who's trying to figure out what it means to be who he is. I was rooting for him the whole time, even when he was making bad decisions. He's down-to-earth and I could understand why he chose the path he did. Jamie felt very real to me, even when some of the plot elements went over the top a little bit.
To me, the tone of this book was perfect. It's funny and light enough to differentiate the book from the scores of depressing YA novels, but it's serious enough that it gives the reader something to really think about.
The plot goes a little bit over the top in some places, and I wish that more of the secondary characters had been a bit more fleshed out. Dr. Gamez, the developer of the pill, for example. He's pretty much painted as a bad guy, and it would have been really intriguing if we'd seen another side to him. I'm not saying that I want to be besties with a doctor who would develop a pill to "cure" homosexuality, but he would have been a more three-dimensional character if he'd had some good intentions. Celia, too. I get that we're seeing the story from Jamie's perspective, but it didn't seem like Celia had any faults (or if she did, they were faults that Jamie blamed himself for).
Oh, but those are minor things that didn't prevent me from really enjoying this debut novel. I will certainly be looking for more from James Klise (a librarian!). I think this would make a great book discussion selection. It's certain to start conversations.
Read another review at The Bibliophilic Book Blog.
Love Drugged is on shelves now!