GORGEOUS by Michael Bates (Bantam 1995)

Over the years, I've frequently trumpeted the joys of the "Blood Lust" series, possibly the most bizzare bunch of teen novels ever written. There are plenty of YA novels about sex, plenty about death, but damnit--if you want to read about a teenage boy having (good!) sex with a zombie, this is the only place I know where to turn.

GORGREOUS upholds the wonderfully perverse tradition. Action starts when a bunch of ill-tempered beautiful teen babes steal a tube of expreimental face creme guaranteed to make them even more gorgeous. And it does! They just keep getting hotter and hotter until gross green blotches appear on their face. (Note: pre Urban Decay)

And then the hilarity ensues! Rapidly rotting faces make them lose status at the high school. One freaks out when facial flesh starts falling into her soda at the after school hangout; another jumps out the window when the nerds jokingly ask her to sit with them. Toss in a few murders, a vengefull psychopath, and a acid-throwing attack gone hideously awry--now that's entertainment!


THE TROUBLEMAKER by Robert McKay (1971)

An unrelentlingly "hip" novel from the days when people acutally took teenagers seriously. Action centers around that scourge of the early '70s, the "groovie guy" as embodied in Jesse Wade. He's made the California scene, had a hit rock record, and led a student strike. So naturally, we find him finishing up high school in Garfield, Ohio.

But alas, Jesse just can't resist stirring it up. A ode to jailhouse beans freaks out one of his unbelievably marmish teachers, and a quick exchange to fisticuffs with a football player winds up with both expelled. Jess fights back he only way he knows how--a rock concert to launch a "Student Right's Organization", thereby severing the novel's last tenuous link to reality. The group's instrumentation is guitar, bass, trumper (!) and organ (who needs drums?). But then, Jesse's musical taste is equally suspect. James Taylor (gag) may have been de rigeur in the '70s, but a serious rock 'n' roll rabble rouser grooving behind Neil Diamond? Right on, kick out my brother motherfucker.

And they still managed to sell copies of this book by the truckload...

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