Joe's Reviews > Prep

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
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Nov 28, 2007

did not like it
Recommended for: PEOPLE WHO LIKE DULL MEANDERING NOVELS THAT GO NOWHERE AND ACHIEVE NOTHING.
Read in July, 2008

I always say that if a writer can evoke complete hatred and dislike for their protagonist from me, then they must be a good writer (Lucinda Rosenfeld's What She Saw... comes to mind). In that regard, Curtis Sittenfeld is an excellent writer (perhaps it's a last name thing) but Prep sucks.

Two reasons why I hated Prep:
1) NOTHING happens. I don't mind episodic novels in which each chapter is a tiny event that comes together as a whole (Peter Darbyshire's Please is an excellent example of this), but nothing comes together with Prep. It's one long, dull chapter of nothing after another. There's no drama, no plot twists, and no plot to twist. Heck! Even a murder thrown in would have been cliched but entertaining. The only current thread is the protagonist's exasperating one-sided 4 year crush on the most popular guy in school.

2) Lee Fiora is an annoying, whiny, dull, self centered protagonist suffering from extreme anxiety and dislike of herself. I mean I, too, was a bit self centered and had anxiety when I was in high school but goodness, Lee takes the cake.

The novel takes place over the course of four years of prep school but Lee doesn't change one bit. Seriously, this is how the novel goes and how Lee reacts to everything and everyone: Someone will tell Lee they like her sweater. Lee will then ruminate, "She liked my sweater. Wow, how cool. But wait did she like my sweater because she really liked it? Or did she like my sweater because she was being mean and maybe something is wrong with it? I knew I shouldn't haven't worn this sweater today. Why would anyone like this sweater? I don't even like this sweater. I don't even like myself." That's not from the novel but that's pretty much how the novel goes for 400+ pages!

In addition to that, all of the characters are one dimensional, never developed and totally stereotypical, especially the ethnic characters. The one Asian character is, of course, a straight-A student math whiz and the two Black characters are, you guessed it, a thief and the star basketball player.

Overall, a highly overrated, extremely dull, racially insulting novel that is a downright waste of time. Seriously. I kid you not. Maybe you might like it better than I did. PU! What a stinker.
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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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Gaia I LOVE the sweater bit in your review.

Weren't there two black characters in the book? The other was a guy, a basketball champion, of course.


message 2: by Joe (last edited Jul 31, 2008 03:04PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Yeah, you're right there were two black characters in the book. I forgot about the other black character who was basketball champion because his role was so nominal. But true to Sittenfeld's form he's stereotypical too.


Rebecca Finally, someone who understands why this book was terrible.


message 4: by Joe (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe
Oh Rebecca, I think we're in the minority here. I can't beleive this is what passes for best selling fiction these days.



Rebecca You're probably right. The number of people who gave this book 5 stars is pretty frightening!


message 6: by Jocelyn (new) - added it

Jocelyn Thank goodness. I totally agree with this review. This is a best-seller? Feh.


message 7: by Emily (new) - added it

Emily Thank you so much for this! I'm not going to bother finishing the book. I'm pissed that a review calls it a complex tale of gender politics, but the only black character with a speaking part was expelled in the first chapter.


Rebecca Hehe, there's another one, but still very little speech from that one. If this book is really about gender politics I'll eat my computer. I'm glad you won't finish it.


message 9: by Bonita (new)

Bonita this book is one of the most boring books i've ever read!! i quit not even halfway through. i don't think i've even gotten past a chapter.


Amina Thank god for goodreads, and people like you who share my exact same thoughts on novels such as this one.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

This is such a perfect review.


Kimberly I really, really wish I had read your review before I read this book. I'm still not sure why I finished it, probably out of curiosity and hope that something, anything would happen to make it worth it.


Anastasia Your review was dead on. I really hated that she had no arc at all. All four years, same thing over and over.


Monica ...have any of you read Catcher in the Rye? it's an iconic book, and Prep is written in the exact style. Just because it doesn't have ACTION doesn't mean it's a crappy novel. If you want ACTION then buy a detective novel, a thriller or whatever.


message 15: by Charmteaser (last edited Jan 16, 2015 06:26PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Charmteaser You are absolutely right. I hated this book. It was a complete waste of time. It's not insightful, it's not brilliant, it's not funny. It's just dull.


message 16: by Joe (last edited May 23, 2012 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe MoniqueM wrote: "...have any of you read Catcher in the Rye? it's an iconic book, and Prep is written in the exact style. Just because it doesn't have ACTION doesn't mean it's a crappy novel. If you want ACTION the..."

Monique, how you came to the conclusion I wanted an action novel is baffling to me. I didn't want action I wanted a story. I wanted some character development. I wanted a point to the whole thing. I wanted a reason why it got such high critical praise.

Just for the record Catcher in the Rye is one of my top 10 favorite novels of all time. There's no action but at least there's a story with protagonist who has a character arc.


Areana Couldn't have said it better myself. Ha! this is how I feel and I'm not even done yet. I bate Lee. Sometimes I can see where she's coming from, but id anyone really that... her?


Shanemydawson so true. i'm reading this book and i got really bored


Jasmyne Reading this review gave me joy since I felt the exact same way - I dragged through this when it came out (I hate to leave a book unfinished) and when I finally dragged myself through the last 15 (I kid you not) pages, I threw the book across the room. This was probably one of the first books I truly hated.


Undercovergeek It does meander, doesn't it? Every time something interesting starts to happen, it's resolved inside Lee's dull head and we're given a final note of "I don't know what happened to them later, but we used to see each other in the halls though we never spoke again"

Sigh... FINE.


message 21: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim I couldn't figure out how to explain why I hated this book and then I read your review.

YES! This is exactly why I hated thw book. Great review. Sucky book. :)


message 22: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim I couldn't figure out how to explain why I hated this book and then I read your review.

YES! This is exactly why I hated thw book. Great review. Sucky book. :)


message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy Scott 😻 Great review and very helpful. I had felt bad for giving up on the book but now am glad that I did not struggle to finish it.


message 24: by Mila (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mila Lee's problems went beyond teenage angst. Sittenfeld wrote her as if she was suffering from an anxiety disorder or something. She was hopeless. To top it off, the characters that Lee observes are never fully realized and that makes the entire story a great bore.


Kelly Pierce Nothing happens in high school! It's all a bunch of ideas mustered up in a kid's head and in the end, everything that seemed like it meant so much really meant so little. This book is completely realistic and I'm sorry to say, she's pretty spot on with what it's like to be surrounded by rich kids and how the minorities will be like.


message 26: by Joe (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Kp wrote: "This book is completely realistic and I'm sorry to say, she's pretty spot on with what it's like to be surrounded by rich kids and how the minorities will be like..."

Wait. I'm confused. So are you saying all black students at prep schools are thieves and athletes? I'm black. I didn't go to a prep school but I did go to a private school and I wasn't neither one. I do agree about the rich kids, though.

I have to say you're the first person I've encountered who has read this novel and actually liked it.


Sonali About race, I interpreted everything like this: yes everything was very stereotypical but that was part of what the author was commenting on. Remember the time Lee's roommate tries to kill herself, and how Lee is surprised because she never thought Sun-Jin had opinions? Or the time Darden and the classmates pose as prostitutes and pimp? And Lee says of course she didn't say Darden was black, because we live in a post racial world.


Khalilah Alston I read this book in 2006 and I wish I could get my time back. Your review is perfect. I thought I was the only one who loathed this book, I'm glad I'm not alone.


Gillian THANK YOU. You spoke my exact thoughts.


message 30: by Charles (new)

Charles I think Kp Wolf has it. Yes, the protagonist is vaccuous and annoying. But guess what? She's a teenage girl! Case closed.

It's not a great book, but as an exploration of the irrational insecurity that paralyses so many it has definite value.


message 31: by Joe (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Charles wrote: "I think Kp Wolf has it. Yes, the protagonist is vaccuous and annoying. But guess what? She's a teenage girl! Case closed..."
That's all fine and good but where's the story? I mean absolutely nothing happens. I mean, I've read other novels about teenagers that explored their irrational insecurities but there was a plot as well.


message 32: by Tianna (new)

Tianna This review is excellent. The book is literally the worst one I have ever read.


message 33: by Lynne (new) - rated it 1 star

Lynne Perfectly described! Thanks you for putting into words what I'm just too disgusted to do myself. What a colossal waste of time! (And whoever decided to publish this novel should be FIRED!)


message 34: by Lyn (new)

Lyn Wheaton In addition to what has been said above, the writing is not good either. The misuse and over use of the double dash device, passive voice, compound verbs, and the tedious descriptions of hand gestures that could have easily been dispensed of by saying, he made a motion emulating... make it a verrrrrryyyyy slow and annoying read.


message 35: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Bahaha stumbled upon this book description and it sounded so beyond obnoxious that I had to read some reviews. Very entertaining.


Sarah Talmage Hated the book, love this review!


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