Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Twelve by Nick McDonell

Title: Twelve
Author: Nick McDonell
Publisher: Grove Press Books
Paperback, 244 pages
Date Published: July 4, 2002

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
On the surface, Nick McDonell's debut novel Twelve (written when the well-connected former prep-schooler was 17) feels like an East Coast Less Than Zero: the laconic style and episodic plot; the privileged ennui, drugs, and pop culture sensibility (with sprinklings of Prada, FUBU, North Face, and Nokia replacing Zero's Armani, English Beat T-shirts, Wayfarer sunglasses, and Betamax); the Christmas break setting; even the italicized flashbacks--it's all there. But Twelve also shares its casual, youthful arrogance with the jaded aggressiveness and jagged style of Larry Clark's Kids.
McDonell has crafted a pulsing narrative that clips along at an after-hours pace, pulling the reader along like an ominous rip tide, shifting easily from the Upper East Side to Harlem to Central Park to introduce a cast of loosely connected characters. White Mike, Twelve's clean-living, Cheerios-loving, milkshake-drinking drug dealer, drives the majority of the barely-there plot. ("Mike uses a teaspoon to eat his cereal, not a big soup spoon, because he likes to have less milk in his mouth with each bite" is about as deep as it gets.) Character development is limited to an easy shorthand ("Long legs, large breasts, blond hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones.") that results in a simple surface-skimming, leaving one too many caricatures of the very youth culture McDonell is writing about. Readers will see the blood-spattered, penultimate set piece coming down Fifth Avenue from page one, but any potential shock value or drama is immediately deflated in Twelve's head-scratching hangover of a denouement. --Brad Thomas Parsons
Nick McDonell was a former NYC, rich kid, prep-schooler himself when he wrote this debut novel at the tender age of 17. For such a young author, he was able to create this vivid, harsh, and oftentimes despairing view on the young NYC elite during a few days during Christmas break.

Twelve follows White Mike, the drug-dealing, non-user, non-drinker, relatively good kid, across the streets of NY as all his fellow young, rich, prep-school peers gear up for the New Years Party to rival all others. While the story focuses on White Mike, there is a myriad of characters and situations that Mike is involved with, both directly and indirectly. The short chapters and clipped prose escalates to an explosive ending and McDonell certainly delivers.

While Twelve moves at a breakneck speed, the silent thoughts of the troubled White Mike bring a more contemplative, beautifully written, introspective view of a the rich elite and the childhood that so many seem to miss out on. McDonell lived the life, so he writes it with an honesty and assuredness that will affect the reader and force you to remember the story. I couldn’t put it down.

On a side note, I truly enjoyed this book, but the violence and drugs will most likely turn a lot of readers off. I’ve seen mixed reviews of it and understand why. This is not Gossip Girl for an older crowd. It’s entirely different and definitely not for a younger audience.

Opening line: White Mike is thin and pale like smoke. ~ pg. 3

Favorite line(s): White Mike started reading. Abraham Lincoln became a martyr, he said, the same way that JFK would become one. In his conclusion, White Mike said that death does not vindicate. It might have been good for the country, but it wasn’t good for Abraham, and it wasn’t good for Jack. ~ pg. 29
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Twelve was recently adapted to film and stars Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, and 50 Cent. It will be released on July 30, 2010
Here's the trailer (Explicit content):

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