Loyalty: The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations. The guys on the football team are loyal to each other. This is especially shown by Rick constantly watching out for Todd and making sure he doesn't get caught cheating on his girlfriend with Nelson's girlfriend. Todd would be a bad example of loyalty because he is so unfaithful to his girlfriend. Beginning: End: Bonds are broken between members of the football team, brought on by suspicion and the constant girlfriend stealing. For example, Rick stops looking out for Todd and covering for him when he realizes how much of an unfaithful jerk he is.
Jealousy: Feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages. Beginning: Because people are on different levels in social status, people on the team become jealous of one another. An example of this is when Rick explains how he is always second string to Todd and how Todd has everything and he has nothing. Also, Rick is jealous of Jake's instant "cool guy" status and the fact that he could get pretty much any girl he wants. End: Jealousy becomes the main, if only, factor in the teammates' decisions, and leads to Nelson strangling Jake for supposedly cheating with his girlfriend. However, Rick is no longer jealous of Todd, and he isn't afraid to oppose him.
Deception: To mislead by a false appearance or statement. Beginning: People deceive each other out of fear that they might be caught doing something wrong. An example of this is when Jake scrambles to hide the papers he is writing for college students in exchange for money to throw parties. Also, Todd tells Didi that he has to have dinner with his family to avoid hanging out with her so he can go to Jake's party. End: The teammates continue to deceive each other, mainly because of all of the girlfriend stealing. Todd deceives Nelson by telling him that Jake was fooling around with his girlfriend which leads him to strangle Jake. Jake breaks the cycle of malicious deception when he deceives the police by telling them that he broke the bottle of champagne over Nelson's head. He is still deceiving people, but only to save the girl he's obsessed over for years.
Dependability: Capable of being depended on; worthy of trust; reliable. Beginning: People on the team not only depend on each other during game time, but they depend on each other in social situations as well. An example of this is when Rick throws his drink in Todd's face to get Nelson's girlfriend's lipstick off of his face. Another example of this is when Rick informs Todd that Didi was at the party when Todd told her he had to visit Family. End: Towards the end of the novel, people become more and less dependable. Rick becomes less dependable in the sense that he is no longer covering for Todd. He becomes more dependable to Jake, however, when he tries to expose the truth to save him from persecution.
Companionship: Association as companions; fellowship. Beginning: The guys on the football team are very attached to each other. Without companions, life would be bleak and boring and there would be no story. Because the guys are such close friends, it makes it a lot harder for them when someone does something that hurts someone else, like when Todd cheats on his girlfriend with Nelson's girlfriend. End: Companionship is rare towards the end of the novel. Todd and Rick, who have been best friends throughout high school, now despise each other, and Nelson hates Jake for something he didn't even do. Despite the loss of companionship, however, Jake and Rick become closer friends and Rick and Jennifer become closer as well.
Suspicion: To believe to be guilty, false, counterfeit, undesirable, defective, bad, etc. Beginning: End: The teammates are greatly suspicious of each other, especially Nelson when he finds out that his girlfriend is cheating on him. Everyone is suspicious of Jake and they wonder how he comes up with all the money to throw such wild parties. Some people suspect him of selling drugs, and Todd suspects him to be an undercover cop, looking to arrest them all for under-aged drinking. Suspicion dies when some truths are revealed about both Jake and Todd. Rick finds out that Jake has been writing essays for people in college to raise money for the parties, and Nelson no longer suspects Todd of fooling around with his girlfriend when he tells him that it was actually Jake that was doing it.
Vanity: Excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc. Beginning: End: Most of the people on the team are incredibly vain. Todd expresses this quality by keeping a girlfriend whom he doesn't even enjoy spending time with, simply because she is "hot". Jennifer also conveys herself as being vain because she is constantly saying "it's all about me". While most of the people stay incredibly vain, some of them, like Rick, wise up and realize that beauty is only skin deep. Throughout the novel, he is constantly obsessing over Jennifer. But, towards the end, he starts to realize how shallow and vain she is and he rejects her when they are fooling around in the bathroom. Jake is still blinded by Didi's looks and he incriminates himself to save her, even though she doesn't really care about him at all.
Hierarchy: Any system of persons or things ranked one above another. Beginning: End: The teammates have a fairly strict class system. Todd is seen around the school as the king, and basically everybody else is his loyal subject. They know that going against Todd meant going against the entire school. Nelson is seen as a guard, because everyone is afraid to mess with him because he could beat up anybody in the school with ease. The balance of power shifts when Jake starts throwing his wild parties. Todd starts to lose his king status, and people start to become more loyal to Jake. This makes Rick realize that although their is no real equality, he doesn't have to be loyal to Todd anymore. He no longer fears that he will be hanged for treason by abandoning his post as Todd's right hand man.
Conclusion Gordon Korman does an excellent job of capturing the drama associated with the high school party scene. Through the characterization of Rick, one of the only characters who acts out of the goodness of his heart, Gordon Korman portrays the struggle of the honest teenager to stay honest when surrounded by liars and cheats. I thought this was a pretty good novel in the sense that it accurately depicts the sleaziness of people who can't have any fun without drinking and stirring up some drama. I would recommend this book to any high school student looking for perspective on the nasty people who walk the halls beside them.