This is a book that I picked up about five seconds before checking out, with very little flipping through it beforehand (usually I do a lot of that, like for an hour per book shopping trip). Why? Because the premise--in order to graduate, seniors now have to do a yearlong marriage course in which they are "married" to another random student for the year--is so mind-blowing. Oh, the potential! On one hand, you think, "Hey, that's an interesting idea, kinda cool to try out." Then you think, "No way would any school let you do this, though." Then you grow a third hand, and in my case think back to taking Family Living in high school, and imagine myself "married" for a year to the redneck guy who kept bugging me in class (I'm picking on him because my mom keeps mentioning his marital exploits to me, joy) and think, "OMG HORROR!"
So yeah, I got it! And it's good. Definitely unexpected in places. Kinda like Wild Ride, this book doesn't go to the expected romantic places. And I found that refreshing.
So: the principal got dumped over the summer by her husband, and the guidance counselor at school also seems to be having romantic issues...and they've decided to force the seniors into yearlong "marriages" where the students must (a) submit budgets, (b) work at the same job together for a yearlong cash competition, and (c) do one activity together per week. It seems that the principal crying in front of the school board or something must have gotten that approved, but parents are in an uproar and start campaigning against the idea. (I love how one mom says, "But what about the gay kids?" Good point.)
Our narrator, Fiona, is decidedly unthrilled to be married to Todd Harding, egotistic jock extraordinare and boyfriend of her nemesis Amanda. Amanda, of course, is married off to Fiona's crush Gabe. Fiona's best friend Marcie seems to do best, being married off to the school's gentle giant guy, Johnny. (Who, btw, is utterly adorable. Love him.) Fiona's kind of a difficult character--kind of egocentric and oblivious, and all about revenge. I actually enjoyed that last trait of hers. Because after Todd well, REALLY does something truly awful to her, she gets him back but good. So satisfying.
I will admit to being both (a) aghast at how the school was run, and yet (b) I couldn't help but think at times, "Yeah, high school's that fucked up, it could happen." Todd is a total Karma Houdini and gets away with EVERYTHING he ever pulls, and the lone other character who gets punished by the school gets a very harsh sentence. It's breathtakingly shocking.
You may think you know how this plot is going to pay off, but not so much. Fiona and Todd are kind of a non-romantic version of every likes-to-fight couple you've ever seen, but they find themselves relishing the pranks and abuse they heap on each other. It's a sick relationship and I enjoyed it so after awhile. Fiona definitely has her blind spots (so much!), but learns to get over her crap, which is good.
Four stars. Good fun.