The Clique is:

Shawn Michaels
Kevin Nash ("Diesel")
Scott Hall ("Razor Ramon")
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Sean Waltman ("1-2-3 Kid", "Syxx", "X-Pac")

These five wrestlers, best friends in real life, were all in the World Wrestling Federation together in the early 1990s. During that time period, they held almost all of the booking power and were thus all pushed to the moon. They'd refuse to sell moves (act hurt) for anyone who wasn't in The Clique and would often refuse even to lose to any outsider. The Clique's influence diminished somewhat with the departure of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for WCW in 1996, although Michaels and HHH still retained much of their pull within the organization.

The "MSG Incident" in reference to The Clique refers to a WWF house show at Madison Square Garden in 1996--Hall and Nash's last day in the WWF before they left for WCW. After the main event, which was Michaels vs. Nash, Hall and HHH joined the two of them in the ring for a group hug and about ten minutes of posturing and posing. This was a gigantic break in kayfabe, since some of the four were babyfaces (good guys) and the others were heels (bad guys). As punishment, HHH was demoted and moved down the card for the remainder of the year. (Michaels couldn't be touched, as he was WWF Champion at the time.)

The Clique also laid the seed for Degeneration X, as the story given when Michaels and HHH formed DX was that they were trying to get fired so they'd be able to join Hall and Nash in WCW.

In recent years, a new version of the Clique has formed behind the scenes of the WWF.

Out:
  1. Kevin Nash
  2. Scott Hall
  3. Shawn Michaels
In:
  1. William Regal
  2. Albert
  3. Test
However, all this might be very short-term, with the nWo (the WCW version of the Clique) threatening to return in storyline terms. At the time of this writeup, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall have already signed with the WWF, and the nWo return already hinted at.

The Clique is a novel by Lisi Harrison, detailing the life of a group of preteen girls, the titular Clique. The novel was spun off into a series of about two dozen books, which are still ongoing.

The main plot of the book is that nerdy, naive Claire Lyons moves from Florida with her family because her father has a job in New York City. Her family moves into the guesthouse of her father's college friend, who has a daughter Claire's age. The daughter, Massie Block, is the most popular girl at her exclusive Westchester all-girls private school. Massie has three friends in her clique: pretty Alicia, hardworking Kirsten and brainy Dylan. The girls don't take kindly to the seemingly tacky interloper, and quickly move to exclude her in a series of mind games and gossip. There are some subplots involving boys and other girls, but the action focuses around the five main characters. Contrary to what the reader might expect, the book doesn't end with everyone learning a valuable lesson about the nature of friendship. The characters do give a grudging acceptance to Claire by the end of the book, but not enough so that the premise of the series is detracted from.

Does this sound like the type of thing you would read?

The book is well written, and given the pedestrian nature of the plot developments (forged instant message conversations), the author manages to get a lot of suspense out of the material. The action and characters are a little exaggerated, but they are fairly realistic. The dialog is actually pretty snappy and witty.

One thing that is a little bit unsettling about the book is some of the maturity of the situations. Especially considering that these are supposed to be 12 and 13 year old girls. When I was reading the book, I assumed they were in their mid-teens until that fact was mentioned. There could be objections to portraying young girls in certain circumstances, but my biggest objection comes to the book trying to have its cake and eat it to, which requires a bit of an explanation of the development of young adult literature.

In the 1970s, there were many books written about adolescents facing "real life" problems, such as familial strife, depression, and developing sexuality. Judy Blume became famous for writing about materials like this, with some controversy, but also with critical acclaim. Young teens, after all, are curious about sex, and not just from the point of prurient interest. But in the 1980s, a new trend started in young adult literature, heralded by Ann Martin's Baby Sitters Club. The Baby Sitters Club were a half-dozen girls with easily described personalities (bossy tomboy, artistic girl, shy girl, etc) who had plots with very little actual character development, not a lot of internal monologue and with very sanitized content. The Baby Sitters Club itself went well over 100 books, and many series were launched with the same idea: a group of friends with easily defined personalities, doing a specific activity.

The question is, which category does The Clique fit in? Is it an honest literary attempt to describe what growing up feels like? Or is it a carefully scripted and controlled presentation of literary stereotypes? Because while a frank discussion of adolescent emotions is acceptable in the first, it is less so in the second. Despite the author's attempts to make it more "adult", she is still curtailed by the formula of presenting character types with little interior development. While the characters are presented in a "sexy" way that is a bit too mature for their supposed ages, it is not in the honest way that Judy Blume would portray them. So the fault of this book is that it presents seemingly mature topics, in a flat and facile way.

It is not a terrible book, it is actually quite well written and interesting. And its depiction of early adolescence is mostly honest. However, it probably goes too far in showing some parts of adolescent life, and not far enough in others.

Is a novel by Lisi Harrison, as Glowing Fish states above. And, in fact, it was him who recommended it to me as an experiment in co-reviewing. In fact, to be fair, I've deliberately held off reading his review until now so I could finish the novel and pass comment on it. And in a nutshell, far from passing comment on it, it deserves that I pass water on it, but that's beside the point.

Ah soddit, let's just get on with things.

Executive Summary

Why bullying is awesome.

A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind?

New face in the pretentiously named middle school called Octavia Country Day (the second word of which is, judging by the sort of person who attends it, possessed of a superfluous O) who's normal. Claire, her name is. And she's staying with the alpha bitch of the school, one Massie Block. Now, where I come from, that's a joke name, but let's run with it for now. Anyhow. Massie is the head of a clique of four girls who collectively refer to themselves as "the Pretty Committee" who are basically a shower of evil-minded spoilt bullies. The fact that there's a new girl is obviously a capital offence in their weird, twisted world, especially as she doesn't spend $780.00 on a top at one go. (I think an aside is necessary here - yes, I would spend that much on a top so long as it did something genuinely unusual, like was stylish yet bulletproof and swordproof and had servos embedded in it so I could lift cars single-handed and suchlike.) Because all the Pretty Committee would do this.

Basically, the novel revolves around Claire's attempts to fit in (why oh why oh why would anyone want to be like these people) and Massie and pals' attempts to ruin her life. By backstabbery and general subterfuge, usually to try to cause embarrassment or similar. For instance, by putting a blob of red paint on Claire's seat during art class so when she sits down, as she's wearing white trousers, when she gets up she looks like she's unexpectedly had her period. Or pretending to befriend her only to then stab her in the back and similar. There's lots of conversations over instant messenger (despite the fact that the novel came out in 2004, when social networking was eclipsing Yahoo Messenger, MSN, or AIM in popularity) as well in which the girls plot their next move and jockey for position in Massie's court. It should be mentioned that they're all 13 years old. Yet at least some of them arrive at school in a limo. Fhat the wuck.

Okay, so far typical teenage cattiness (albeit with absolutely no comeuppance for any of them.) But it gets worse. Specifically, it then proceeds to venture deep into "am I a creephat for reading this?" territory, as I will now demonstrate.

Firstly, be reminded that they're all 13 years old.

Now add to this the constant descriptions of their (always designer) clothing. In particular the member of the Pretty Committee called Alicia, who's sort of Massie's number two (insert obvious joke about how they're all number two here.) Now season that with constant lingering descriptions over Alicia's looks and ability to attract boys. If you're feeling now like the author was of the cigar-smoking, silly wig-wearing, marathon-running persuasion, this is normal. Yes. There's an awful lot of sexualisation of teenagers going on here. It gets worse when you realise that, reading between the lines, Alicia, who has Curves In All The Right Places, probably has had implants. At thirteen. And that Dylan (another PC member) is probably anorexic. And this is held up as a Good Thing. At thirteen. I don't know about you, but I'm slightly nonplussed by all this.

The Pretty Committee at one point also attempt to start a make up business called "Glambition." But it's another boondoggle for kicking Claire for not being rich enough. And this is the other thing that bothers me about this novel. Its glorification of bullying and bitchiness over everything else, especially in a novel aimed at teenagers, which this is. The Pretty Committee go to any length to exclude, backstab, and mindfuck those who are insufficiently forelock-tugging to them... and they do so with absolutely no consequences whatsoever. Who is running this school? I know there's a stereotype about private schools letting off kids whose parents are willing to open the chequebook whenever their spoilt midget mongrel bastard is caught beating up some other kid, but I question how far it would go in reality. And besides, Massie's parents, like everyone else's parents, are barely a blip on the horizon, as are the teachers and suchlike. I know that when I was 13 years old, if I'd have painted a red splotch on the seat of some girl's trousers at school to make it look like she'd been caught short while the painters were in (or, as I was at an all-boys state grammar school, some tipp-ex on the front of their trousers to make it look like they'd had a crafty classroom wank) I'd probably have been sentenced to death by rugby or something equally horrific. But... no. This does not happen. This, the constant dropping of brand names throughout the book, and the sheer superficiality that the novel has you wallow in at all times send the message that to succeed in life you need to be rich, vain, and petty. When in the real world, results and capability and getting shit done matter, which are the inverse of the skills you need to succeed at a place like Octavia Country Day.

The novel was, alas, popular, and has spawned legions of sequelae. Not bad for a novel that was written solely as a marketing exercise by someone from MTV (no, really).

I would go on, but I actually feel dirty just thinking about it. In closing, a person on TV Tropes described it as having "the least likeable characters since Mein Kampf." I find it hard to argue with this assessment. I'm off for a bath now.

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