Hellish Halls of High School

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The hallowed halls of high school have their own rules that govern behavior there, but many times the social strata is determined even earlier in middle school. Lindsey Lee Johnson’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth follows a group of students whose lives are drastically impacted by an event from their 8th grade year.

In a community of privilege and wealth in California, a group of high school students are linked together by a tragic event from middle school. A young teacher new to the school, Molly Nicoll, is intrigued by her students and wants to find a way to relate to and be liked by them, which leads her to becoming a bit too invested in their actions. In this land of privilege where their actions seem to not have much lasting effects, social media and the immediacy and permanence of sharing on the Internet appears to be the only thing that causes them to think for a moment about their actions.

The narrative is quickly paced and tackles a big issue of cyberbullying and the role that social media plays in contemporary high school life. I did appreciate the development of the characters of the various students the story focused on, because as awful as they seemed, it’s a (sadly) fairly representative, if cliched, depiction of high school students. While the story was pretty good, there’s no unified voice or perspective that the narrative comes from, which makes the narrative lack an overall direction, despite the presented plot–chapters would start under the name and perspective of one character and then suddenly shift to another with very little pretext as to why.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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