Sunday, August 22, 2010

Troy High

Troy High by Shana Norris is fun. That is, I think, the best word for it. It's a stand-alone novel with a fast pace and a simple story. The basic idea is that it's a modern retelling of the Iliad. Two rival high schools, with football teams named the Trojans and the Spartans. Incidentally, my grade school's mascot was the Trojans, which you can bet we made jokes about when we were old enough to understand the sort of jokes that might be made. In any case, Trojans and Spartans are bitter enemies. Our heroine, Cassie Prince, is a rare exception, since her best friend, Greg Mennon, is a Spartan while she is a Trojan. Cassie, based on Cassandra the Seer in the Iliad, is the only who sees that trouble might be afoot when Elena Argos, a recent transfer from Lacede, home of the Spartans, decides to dump her old boyfriend Lucas Mennon for Perry Prince. This transfer of affection is perceived as an insult to Spartan pride, and the rivalry between the two schools gets even more heated. Pranks escalate, and Cassie is torn between loyalty to her brothers, the star players for the Trojans, and loyalty to Greg, her best friend whom she has also realized she has feelings for.

The reason this story works, I think, is that Elena is not a one-dimensional, catty popular girl. She's the start of all the trouble, and she is rather a typical cheerleader, but she's genuinely nice to Cassie, which makes Cassie's continued loyalty to Elena and the Trojans that much more believable. Greg's a good guy, but he also falls prey to the rivalry, so, again, the loyalty issue is complicated in a way where you don't think Cassie is dumb for not doing one thing or the other. The story zips along, without too much dwelling on teen angst, and Cassie has a natural narrative voice which doesn't jerk you out of the story. Troy High is not exactly going to become a classic of western literature like its source material, but it's definitely a fun read that I highly recommend.

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