Sarah's Stars

Lurlene McDaniel. Prey
Delacorte $13.99  ISBN 978-0-385-73453-0  197 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

I stand in front of my desk for effect, the old oak surface rough and pitted against my hands. Not like at the private school where I last taught. There the furniture was smooth and polished, dark with age and prestige. I ask my series of questions to the upturned faces. The class sits mutely, staring. My psyche sinks. Ordinary. How can they all be so ordinary?

Then one speaks out. A wise guy answer that makes the room laugh. He's beautiful. Dark hair, blue eyes, dimples-not yet a man, yet more than a child. Yes, I know that too in an instant. It's a gift, being able to see inside them. I stare at him and the room seems to recede. A halo of light encircles him and suddenly, I know...he'll be the One.

On Ryan's first day as a high school freshman, he meets his new World History teacher, Ms. Settles. She's a thirty-something single woman with the body of a goddess and Ryan, along with most of the boys in his class, are besotted by her beauty in a typical schoolboy crush. Ms. Settles, or Lori, feels lonely and is exasperated by her pupils. To her they are ordinary and immature...yet so young. If only one were different, just one, she wishes. And then she meets Ryan. An innocent request for help moving furniture lets Ryan and Lori spend time together and they really get to know one another. What follows is an illegal, passionate and dangerous romance. So wrong itís right? Ryan loves the way he feels older and mature with Lori, and Lori loves the way she feels beautiful and young. It's a hazardous trade-off and it becomes even more of a perilous situation when Honey, Ryan's best friend (who also happens to have a huge crush on him), tries to figure out why he's becoming so distant. What will happen when she begins to put together the clues?

Prey is a disturbing and provocative look into the seductive world of sexual predators. It shows us that sometimes it's not just creepy old men and young girls. What if it's a woman and a boy, and they both want to be in a relationship? It's a complicated problem and very dramatic whichever way you spin it. Lurlene McDaniel manages to make us feel sympathy for Ryan and Lori even though what they are doing is wrong. They just want to be together and everyone is making it so hard for them. But the effects on Ryan and Lori, as well as all the people around them strain their relationship. Soon Ryan discovers that Lori isn't so nice and thoughtful after all...but neither is he. The tense plotline moves along quickly and completely absorbs the reader. I wouldn't recommend Prey for anyone under the age of 14 because of some sexual content (obviously). It's not graphic and the author never writes an inappropriate scene as its taking place but it's definitely implied. The suspense will keep you up late at night turning the page but unfortunately, the murky, bittersweet ending doesn't really add up to a satisfying conclusion. In any case though, it's still worth a read.

I give Lurlene McDaniel's Prey four out of five stars.

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