by Marty Beckerman
Generation S.L.U.T. (Sexually Liberated Urban Teens) is a unique, sarcastic look at modern teenage society’s obsession with and indulgence in hedonistic pleasure (drinking, drugs, and suicide are discussed here, not just sex as the title might infer). Marty Beckerman, the author of the much beloved Death To All Cheerleaders, mixes random facts, short narratives, one short story, and the occasional cartoon strip to paint a sad, upsetting picture of the way that many American teenagers are living their lives.
The main short story that ties the entire work together is the tale of Max, a rather introverted, socially inept teenager who finds love in the form of Julia, a girl who just moved into town. His antagonists include the despicable yet rich and handsome Trevor, loved and worshipped by many, who turns out to also be a rapist and porn peddler.
The story itself is engaging and interesting, and I found myself wading through all of the little facts and other short quips just to get the actual story finished. The tone of the dialogue is classically modern teenager (sarcastic, biting, and weary), and I totally believed in all of the characters, except for the too over the top Trevor.
As noted before, the small stories about Beckerman’s experiences with women are somewhat humorous, but they belong in their own book, as they take away from the flow of the main story. The cartoons are actually quite entertaining, especially a small bit about a dad encouraging his son to spend his money on a prostitute for the prom, rather than spend hundreds on a date. There are also comic strips thrown into the main story, which I neither liked nor disliked (they were just there).
The most shocking aspect of the book is the series of “S.L.U.T. Stats,” which were taken from various medical journals and newspapers. Included in the book are the facts that 19.7% of alcohol in America is consumed by underage drinkers, 73% of 13-18 year olds think that high school health centers should distribute condoms, and that the percentage of sexually active 18 year olds has risen from 23% in 1959 to 80% in 1999. While these facts are staggering and upsetting, they are presented in a cold, matter of fact manner, and Beckerman doesn’t seem to take a side either way.
Generation S.L.U.T. is a book worthy of your cash. The book’s main story is well written, both emotionally and plot wise, and the characters can be connected with easily. The stories being broken up by the facts and figures makes for one of the only negative aspects of the book; however, the design and eye catching artwork help. Overall, this book is fun, frightening, silly, and shocking, all of which create a book completely worth checking out.