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Twelve [Paperback]

Nick McDonell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 April 2003
Sold to fourteen publishers around the world and receiving tremendous critical acclaim, Twelve was one of the most significant literary debuts of 2002. It quickly established its seventeen-year-old author as an astonishing voice of the new millennium. A chilling novel of urban adolescence that is "both an indictment of excess and a cry of teenage loneliness" (Joe Heim, People), it has appeared on The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, London Times, and Sydney Morning Herald best-seller lists, and on The New York Times extended list. Set among the privileged prep-school students of Manhattan's Upper East Side, Twelve follows White Mike, a dropout drug dealer, through the week between Christmas and New Year's. Throughout the book, where there is an excess of everything but hope, we are filled with that very emotion as White Mike struggles for nothing less than his soul.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (14 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140128
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,326,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"As fast as speed, as relentless as acid." --Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"

"Nick McDonell is the real thing, a powerful young writer with the look of a dangerous freak and very sharp teeth. The ratio of age to talent is horrifying. His trick is he writes the truth. I'm afraid he will do for his generation what I did for mine."--Hunter S. Thompson

"An astonishing rush of a first novel, all heat and ice and inexorable narrative drive...A pleasure to read, a horror to contemplate, a real achievement." -Joan Didion

"McDonell is an authentic talent...His novel will endure as a snapshot of his generation as surely as "Less Than Zero" did of the eighties." -Stephanie Merritt, "The Observer" (London)

"[McDonell] renders Manhattan's cosseted Upper East Side with both the casual authority of an insider and the wry distance of an observer....Impressive." -Jennifer Egan, " The New York Times Book Review"

"McDonell, like the young Jim Caroll, displays a frightening acuity in his astonishing debut." -Elissa Schappell, "Vanity Fair"

About the Author

Nick McDonell is seventeen years old and was born in New York City. He attends Harvard University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
WHITE MIKE IS thin and pale like smoke. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A progressive "post-adolesence" novel 30 Jun 2003
I read this book after a review in GQ magazine and found that despite it's length and drugs-orientated plot it is an effective novel. Ok, it's not The Catcher in the Rye but I believe that it's short chapters and simple plot will pave the way for the next cult teenage novel, this is the first 21st century attempt to sum up life for a teenager, to explore feelings and the ways in which we are all caught between the life we lead and the way in which we aren't necessarily happy with this life. The book falls short of having a big impact on the reader because McDonell tries to work a simple plot involving drugs and aspirations in a small teenage society together with his main character's thoughts in a short space of time. The effect this has is to leave the reader, having finished the book, unsure of the characters and with only a skeletal knowledge of their traits. On the other hand what we do learn is enough to make the book work and not become a failed attempt at a novel by a young writer.
Overall, if you enjoy post-adolesence novels like The Catcher in the Rye then you should read this book for an indication of what is to come in this genre.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Less than zero" 15 years on 16 July 2002
By A Customer
I enjoyed this book as I read it, though over time I realise how little effect it's actually had on me. On picking this up I found it hard to put down - and read the whole book in 3 sittings. It reads well and is entertaining - with a choppy, cut-up style and some interesting characters. He writes with a good turn-of-phrase and you get a good feel for the types of people and places he portrays.
However, if you've read 'Less than zero' or (dare I say it!) seen Beverly Hills 90210 (!) you'll be familiar with the themes (obviously given here on a far harsher scale) - i.e. screwed up rich kids with too much cash and not enough love. The 'apocolyptic' ending is no surprise at all.
If I was 17 and I'd written this I'd be very proud (come to think of it if I'd written it at all at any age I'd be pretty chuffed!) It's ultimately an enjoyable read and I'll read reviews of his next one with interest now that that 'difficult' first 'semi-autobiographical' (which it seems quite heavily to be) novel is out of the way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class of it's own. 2 Jun 2007
To be gripped by a book in such a way is rare; this book left my hand three times between the first and last pages - the second being a dire need for sleep.

Nick Mcdonell weaves a vignette-esque route through the lives of several young adults brought together by the very human emotions we all, at one time or another, experience. His ability to flip between registers is remarkable in one so young, and serves as a great compliment to the scenarios his characters involve themselves in.

I could go on, but truly the only thing i need to say is: read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and shocking 19 Sep 2006
By Kate
I ended up reading this book very quickly because I just couldn't put it down. The whole thing is so real that it almost hurts. I love the way McDonell switches between characters as it gives the novel a fast pace that stops the reader ever getting bored and moves things along swiftly, enhancing the sense of the city of New York, the city that never sleeps.

Some of the characters are deeply unlikable, but they are supposed to be. Some of them are incredibly chilling, such as Claude. For a while it seems as though the novel isn't really going anywhere, enjoyable though it is, but the ending disputes that. The ending is shocking and brutal, and although it can be foreseen in a way, it is still cutting and left a lasting impression on me. In fact, about a week after finishing it I had a nightmare that a guy I barely knew tried to kill me with a baseball bat...disturbing. I don't normally like books to give me nightmares, but it shows how effective and powerful the novel is.

I would say that it reminds me of the catcher in the rye, but it's even better as I can relate more to it, as Twelve is very modern. I think the author really manages to say something about an empty society of spoiled privelleged teenagers in New York, whose parents have far too much money and don't pay enough attention. I like the complex character of White Mike, the drug dealer who still seems like a nice guy, with a sad past. It is written in a very colloquial way which enhances the realism, some of the dialogue is perfect, just like in real life.

So if you want a book that doens't have easy answers, that will haunt you after you finish reading, then buy this book, I can't recommend it enough.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a little uninspired. 22 Jun 2003
The commonest comparison for McDonell's precocious debut has been Brett Easton Ellis' "Less than Zero", probably since they both use the same device of narrating different episodes from the points of view of their various different characters. Also, like Ellis, McDonell seems to be attempting to find something of existential significance in the everyday - his popcultural references are certainly bang up-to-date. But there's a debt owed here to Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" - which in turn borrowed the whole idea of an aimless everyman from Salinger's seminal "Catcher in the Rye". The writing is sharp enough to make the plot engaging but it can come across as a little contrived at times and feels like McDonell is trying just a bit too hard to ape a specific narrative voice: that of the world-weary youth who sees an essential emptiness in modern living. So while it's not as accomplished as the soundbitten hype would have you believe, neither is it as bad as some of the understandably disappointed reviewers have ended up feeling. It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with next.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
utter rubbish
Published 1 month ago by Lobgod Piepsam
4.0 out of 5 stars Still waters run deep
Professional circumstances forced me to read this novel, and I must say I wasn't very keen on doing yet another book about drugs, parties and misguided youth. Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2012 by Wolfgang
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quick Read
I was drawn into picking up this book. A book written by an 17 year old about a 17 year old drug dealer. Read more
Published on 8 Dec 2011 by Emma
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
I really enjoyed this book. It was different and it was open. I'm actually surprised that this book doesn't have more higher rated reviews. Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by Stepping Out of the Page
4.0 out of 5 stars Proper job
Brett Easton Ellis' planet obviously; but more realistic; and under it all a proper, serious novel with proper, serious and engaging characters - some, but not all, of whom come to... Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2009 by Mr. David Cheshire
5.0 out of 5 stars Unorginal, but brilliant
By now we're all familiar with the spoilt little ultra-rich kids of America with their superficial little lives that revolve around drugs and getting laid. Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2009 by Stephen Newton
5.0 out of 5 stars wow!
I just finished this book and felt I had to review it. It's gripping, honest and utterly thrilling. Brilliant!
Published on 8 Jun 2008 by Mrs. N. L. Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best
As for myself, I would actually consider me as being a fan of Fantasy and Science-Fiction. However, as I opened the first page of the life of White Mike at Christmas a few years... Read more
Published on 20 April 2006 by Jonathan Oscar
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
This is one of those books that really impacts you, you find yourself thinking about it weeks after you've read it. Read more
Published on 11 April 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars COME ON NICK WRITE ANOTHER ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i really enjoyed this book. It is the only book i have read more than twice, I've read it 4 times since i got it, as i dont think Mc Donnell has written another, this being... Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2006 by lucie
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