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The Revenge Game

by Jordyn Taylor

Jordyn Taylor (Credit: Louis David)

The trope of high school boys commodifying their sexual conquests isn’t new, and, since the #MeToo movement, neither is the storyline of high school girls fighting back. Jordyn Taylor presents her own take with The Revenge Game, about an incurable romantic who finally meets the boy of her dreams – unlike Alyson’s past crushes, Brenton Riggs Jr. actually likes her back! – only to doubt his sincerity when she learns about the King’s Cup, a competition where boys rack up points every time they reach a sexual milestone with a girl. In retaliation, Alyson and her friends create the Queen’s Cup, with its mission to publicly humiliate any boy who asks them out just to rack up points in the competition.

The problem is that Alyson can’t tell whether or not Brenton is involved. Her friends insist he must be; most, if not all, of the boys are, and Brenton is friends with the popular kids who started the Cup. But Brenton is just as fervent in insisting he’s innocent.

Alyson isn’t sure whom to believe, and it’s in her uncertainty that the novel makes its point most powerfully. When Brenton tells her that he’s hurt she even considers him capable of doing something as terrible as the King’s Cup, his words feel emotionally manipulative. Even more red flags are raised by the urgency Alyson feels to take back her accusation and to conceal her own participation in the Queen’s Cup.

On the other hand, Brenton does have reason to feel hurt. Nothing he’s done seems untrustworthy; on the contrary, he’s always been a thoughtful and caring boyfriend. And his concerns about the Queen’s Cup are also understandable: at least one of the boys who was publicly humiliated didn’t strike Alyson as the type to be in the King’s Cup and, sure enough, he was later exonerated.

It’s this ambiguity around intentions and understanding that creates complex characters and makes the novel more than a story of revenge. Perhaps that’s why the middle of the novel feels the strongest. Once the battle of the sexes reaches its peak, and the truth behind Brenton’s involvement/non-involvement in the King’s Cup is revealed, the story flattens out. The denouement is fun and action-packed, but it’s the complexity of Alyson’s earlier dilemma that leaves its mark.


Reviewer: Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen

Publisher: Delacorte Press


Price: $24.99

Page Count: 320 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-0-59356-364-9

Released: November

Issue Date: November 2023

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 14+