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Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Camelia (sounds like Chameleon) almost died three months ago, when she bent down to pick up her earring in the parking lot and nearly got hit by a car. Before she knew what was happening, a mysterious hot guy had shoved her out of the way, saving her life, before running off when she tried to thank him.

She is, of course, determined to find out more about Ben, the mystery guy. But when she confronts him in the hall and tries to thank him, he pretends he doesn't know what she's talking about.

Camelia's chemistry teacher has an annoying practise of decreeing that whoever you're sitting next to on your first day will be your lab partner for the rest of the year. As luck would have it, the last empty seat in the room is next to Camelia--and then Ben walks in. At first, he acts like he can barely sit next to her. But then he starts to warm to her--even though he warns her that she shouldn't be friends with him, it's too dangerous.

Sound familiar?

Yeah. The plot diverges after this little bit of prettied-up plagiarism, and turns into a Mysterious Stalker novel (Camelia has a stalker. Ben wants to help her) but still--did it seriously have to rip off the most famous crappy YA novel of our time?

Camelia and Ben's relationship is hot, I'll give you that much, but seems to be based on nothing more than his looks (she describes him looking yummy and delicious and hot hot hot as often as Bella described Edward as a marble statue of a Greek god) and her fascination with his bad boy reputation (he reportedly killed his girlfriend back at his old school.)

The writing is not amazing--I get the sense that we're supposed to care about and like Camelia's neglected best friends (she ignores them in her fascination with Ben) but they're really not that interesting--they're actually kind of annoying. And Camelia's family drama is contrived.

This book would be a mild "pass" for me if it didn't rip off Twilight in an unbelievably derivative way. That elevates it to a "can you believe this book?"

Sigh. I feel like I've been disappointed by every book I've read recently. I'd really like to read a good book again.
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