Ethan is a junior at Selwyn Arts Academy, a sort of magnet school for students interested in the arts–think FAME in Minnesota. He doesn’t think he’s a particularly great artist or musician, but he’s doing fine in school and really enjoying his English class with Mr. Lee. This year, a “reality show” called For Art’s Sake is being filmed at Selwyn. At first it seemed harmless, but as the year progresses Ethan and his friends decide that the show is ruining what they loved about their school. They decide they need to do something–and the Vigilante Poets are born.
I was drawn to this book because of the title. Something about it just made me think it was going to be awesome; maybe kind of like Dead Poet’s Society. I’m a firm believer in the power of great titles. In this case, I kind of think the title was the best part of the book. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoyed the story, but I had a hard time really loving this book. I think part of the problem is that one of the main characters is totally disappointing in a “you totally sold out” kind of way. I know that in reality people are disappointing sometimes, and it kind of has to happen for there to be a plot, but I had a hard time actually believing it. Then again, so does Ethan, so maybe he and I are both in denial. I liked the way the book revealed some of the secrets of “reality” shows and the fact that they are more scripted than most of us think. I also enjoyed the humor of Ethan and his friends and the way Ethan as a character learned from the experience.
If you’re interested in performing arts or television production, you might enjoy this book. The school/friendship aspect is similar to Looking for Alaska, but this book is not as serious. It would make a good vacation read.