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Disturbing Behavior by John Whitman

Title Disturbing Behavior
Author John Whitman
Screenplay Author Scott Rosenberg
City and Publisher New York: Bantam Books
Year 1998
ISBN 0-553-57139-7

Teaser/Reader Annotation Steve, Gavin, and Rachel must discover the sinister deeds lurking behind the perfect behavior of Cradle Bay's Blue Ribbons society before they, too, are swallowed up by the situation.

Plot Summary High school senior Steve Clark just moved to the picturesque Cradle Bay Island with his family. At first they settled in nicely and everything seemed to be going well in the seemingly quiet town. That's when he began noticing, with the help of three outcast teens, that something weird was happening to the students in the psychiatrist Dr. Caldicott's “Blue Ribbons” students – the most popular kids in school. On the outside, the group appears to be perfect – straight As, an abundance of school spirit, and completely obedient to the adults in their lives – but Steve and his friends soon discover that they explode into a deadly rage if they see someone step out of bounds. When one of their own joins the Blue Ribbons, Steve, Gavin, and Rachel must find the secret behind the odd behavior and cult mentality of the club before the Blue Ribbons catch and assimilate them!

Critical Evaluation I went into this book without very high expectations, as I approach most movie tie-in novels. By the end, I was pleasantly surprised with how much better it was than anticipated. It cleared up a number of confusing aspects found in the movie and gave a little more personality to the characters which had been glazed over in the movie for more action sequences. The plot is rather reminiscent of a more violent The Stepford Wives with the focus being the teenagers not the women of the town, but it does have its own points of originality and the suspense and horror keep the book moving at a fast pace. It may not be the best quality horror novel out there and is rather short, but for a movie tie-in it's actually not bad. If they have seen the movie and are left confused or wanting more details or are fans of science-fiction/horror, then teenagers are probably going to like this suspenseful book.

About the Author John Whitman (February 16, 1967) is an American author who graduated from University of California, Berkley with a B.A. in Literature and went on the receive his M.A in Creative Writing from Boston University. The majority of his books are movie tie-ins or are based off of television series. He has also co-authored two non-fiction books related to his favorite hobby – martial arts.

When Whitman is not writing he is practicing and teaching a form of martial arts called Krav Maga, in which he is a fourth degree black belt. From 2000 until 2007 he was the president of Krav Maga Worldwide and spent his time teaching civilians, military units, and law enforcement agents. From these experiences he put together the two Krav Maga books, one of which is aimed at beginners while the other is for a wider range of knowledge.

Primary Genre Horror

Secondary Genre Science-fiction

Curriculum Ties Biology, Neuroscience

Booktalking Ideas

1) Do you think the parents of the Blue Ribbon students were expecting too much of their children before the operation? Were they acting like normal teenagers or were they going too far? Discuss.

2) While the operations were unjustifiable, especially with so many side effects, could the teenagers have worked harder to compromise?

Reading Level/Interest Age 15+

Challenge Issues Violence

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.
5) Refer to the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Why is it included? I was searching for potential horror books in the library and remembered this movie from my youth.