Cover image for Prep
Coburn, Jake.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
182 pages ; 22 cm
One-time tag-artist, Nick tries to come to terms with the death of a friend, to protect the brother of his would-be girlfriend, to escape the violence of wealthy New York City prep school hoods, and to figure out who he really is.
Reading Level:
660 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 6.0 71139.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.5 12 Quiz: 34486 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Nick and his friends have every advantage: expensive clothes, beautiful homes in Manhattan, peerless private-school educations. However, beneath the picture-perfect veneer lies a violent subculture that is gritty and dangerous, with binge drinking, heavy drug use, casual sex, vandalism, and gangs. Nick is in love with his best friend, Kris, and imagines a future with her outside the violence of their circle. When Kris's younger brother becomes a gang target, Nick is compelled to navigate the complex politics of the prep world, come to terms with his past gang experience, and put his own life at risk. Brutally realistic, Prepis a powerful, gripping exposé of America's most affluent youth.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 9-12. The staccato rhythm of Coburn's prose is the best part of this tale of Manhattan prep-school gangsters. Coburn, himself a prep-school graduate, sheds light on a fascinating subculture of privileged teens who lack for nothing save their parents' attention. Nick is in love with Kris, whose younger brother, Danny, is being threatened by a gang. To save Danny, Nick calls on friends from his tagging (graffiti) days and, in doing so, faces difficult memories of his own cowardice. There is a fair amount of action, but what pulls readers along is the language. Realistic, slang-filled dialogue and short, crisp narrative passages create a minimalist world of frenetic gang warfare, substance abuse, and wild parties that become nightmares. --Debbie Carton Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"When you have money and everything still blows most of the time, you don't want to spend your life just making more." This sentiment drives the Manhattan private-school students in Coburn's debut novel to emulate the thuggish nihilism they see on MTV, creating tiered hierarchies of gangs, talking like rappers but wearing Rolexes and Ralph Lauren shirts. Narrator Nick, a reputedly legendary graffiti artist, has had enough of this scene and tries to get on with his life-and more specifically, to tell his best friend, Kris, that he has always loved her. Kris's drug-addled mess of a brother, Danny, runs afoul of the vicious MKII gang, and when Nick intervenes, he finds himself in the crosshairs of the MKII also. The two plot threads never quite mesh. The relationship between Nick and Kris is artfully conveyed, painful and bittersweet. But the sound bites of upscale white-kid ghetto-speak sound hollow ("That Nippon place is whack... sushi's mad dry by the time it gets here"), at times coming across as parody. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-This novel focuses squarely on the world of Manhattan prep-school teens with too much money, too little family, and too few morals. These young men beat and cut one another for fun, territory, or girls, and generally use violence to gain reputations, power, and control. Nick, a famous ex-tagger, is haunted by the memory of the knife that nearly killed his friend Kodak, and ignores the recruiting efforts of various gang members. He is secretly in love with his best friend, Kris. When her younger brother gets in trouble, Nick tries to intercede and is once again drawn into the gang circle, though he's not sure that he's ready to fight. Prep does an excellent job of revealing the darker side of growing up rich, including drugs, easy sex, and drinking. Coburn's brief sentences and often-raw gang slang create a cadence and reflect the movement of the novel through four suspenseful days. While some of the gang members seem to be from central casting, the main characters are exceptionally well drawn and sympathetic.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.