Review: Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane

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Publication: May 1st 2018
Publisher: Scout Press
Pages:  293 pages
Source: Bookmobile
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Anthology
My Rating: ⛤⛤

“Men will kill you with their idiocy but women will kill you with their brilliance,” (Crane 205).

I really really wanted to like this book. The article for it on Bustle Books made it sound like something right up my alley, dark and mysterious, something feminist. But all I got was a disappointing book about mean girls that only had the vague outlines of darkness and greatness it could have been.

Describing Sorority at all is a chore I wish I didn’t have to do. The book follows twenty-eight (HAVE FUN REMEMBERING THEM ALL) sorority sisters who are all connected through their fellow sister Margot’s death. Not all the characters like Margot, not all of the stories focus on her, but she appears here and there when necessary because Sorority isn’t really a novel (though it also kind of is?), it’s more of an anthology following each of the sorority sisters. Some of these stories follow the sister’s before they were in sorority life, some follow them after. Some sister’s get multiple stories, other’s only one, and still some are only footnotes in the stories of other sister’s.

It was hard to figure out what exactly Sorority was trying to do as a book: is it a novel or is it an anthology? I thought novel before reading since the back of the book implied that each of the sister’s stories were connected to Margot in some way, but this quickly turned out to be false, so I instead accepted it as an anthology with each chapter a different sister’s story. It still didn’t make sense, but I could accept it. But then Crane had that last story which I guess is supposed to be clever and crap but just made me roll my eyes at its ending. I’m no expert, but I feel like an anthology should be able to be read with each story as a separate plot. Maybe some characters overlap with others, maybe some themes, but they should be able to be read individually, but Crane’s last story ruins that.

Now some of the stories were good and I really enjoyed them, but that was maybe three or four stories out of maybe thirty? And the stories I did care about had characters that Crane for some reason didn’t want to focus on later. Deirdre and dead Margot got enough words in (especially Margot in all her deadness), as did a lot of the really mean girls with no substance and their stories were just as boring as they were. I didn’t even care about Margot though she was the apparent heart of the novel. I just wanted to know more about Margot, not because I cared about her or what happened but because she was so poorly developed that I wanted a reason to care about her, a reason to be interested in her but Crane failed to do even that.

Sorority could pretend at being clever sometimes. This was most notable in the first person plural stories that follow the sister’s as a collective, a chorus, or in Kyra’s story who literally explained the Greek connections in her own life because she’s a goddamn Classics major. It would have been nice to see the classics and Greek theme explored subtly throughout the stories, not that sororities or fraternities really have anything to do with Greek culture, but it could have made Sorority at least a little more enjoyable.

Not I’ll admit, I know very little about sororities. I thought of pledging for them once but when I got an email back from them two weeks late I knew it wasn’t for me. All I know comes from Scream Queens which while not accurate I’m sure at least shows the mean girls trope comically. Sorority’s use of the trope made it seem like Crane just wanted to write a story with stereotypical mean girls with what reader’s thought a sorority might be like.

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