Literature / Drama Series
is a book series by Paul Ruditis
Orion Academy is just your average American high school—except for the waterfall in the lobby. And the fully functional observatory. And the fact that the theatre department is regularly featured on Entertainment Tonight
. Okay, so maybe average
isn’t the right word. Located in Malibu, California, Orion is where Hollywood’s A-listers send their offspring to be educated. Egos are big, tempers run high, and gossip spreads faster than a speeding bullet.
In the middle of it all is Bryan Stark, theatre geek and narrator extraordinaire. Compared to most of his classmates, Bryan seems almost normal; his parents aren’t famous and they’re only somewhat affluent. But somehow he always gets caught up in the drama. Together with his two best friends, aspiring actress Sam and budding writer Hope, Bryan battles evil classmates, cruel directors, and his own inner demons. Along for the ride are Sam’s new love interest, Eric, and Hope’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Drew, who also happens to be Bryan’s ex-best friend for reasons that aren’t explained until the very end.
The series consists of four books:
- The Four Dorothys
- Everyone’s a Critic
- Show, Don’t Tell
- Entrances and Exits
The first two books were recently rereleased in one volume called The Devil's in the Diva.
This series provides examples of:
- Alpha Bitch: Holly Mayflower.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Subverted when Bryan explicitly states that he might be part Jewish.
- Apologizes a Lot: Belinda
- Bi the Way: Hope, if her brief romance with a female Renaissance Faire employee is any indication.
- Camp Gay: Marq
- Coming-Out Story: Show, Don't Tell is basically this for Bryan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Practically everyone, but especially Bryan.
- First Girl Wins: Or, in this case, first guy.
- First Kiss: Sam implies that Bryan can’t understand her complicated love life because he’s never been kissed. Later, he reveals to her that he actually has—and it was way more dramatic than anything she’s experienced.
- Gag Boobs: Hope jokes about her own “formidable” chest at every opportunity, “if only to beat everyone else to the punchline.”
- Gayngst: Averted, subverted, and played straight (no pun intended) by various characters throughout.
- Girl Posse: Holly, Alexis, and Belinda
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Heather and Holly Mayflower; Hope and her stepsisters.
- Hidden Depths: Everyone.
- High School (obviously)
- Iconic Item: Bryan’s fedora
- Incompatible Orientation: It turns out that Suze has a thing for Bryan. And there’s a reason Hope and Drew are always having relationship problems.
- Info Dump: The first few chapters of The Four Dorothys are quite exposition-heavy as Bryan has to introduce everyone, not to mention explain why four girls are sharing the role of Dorothy in his school’s production of The Wizardof Oz.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After Bryan gently turns him down, Gary immediately tracks down Drew and tells him that Bryan wants to talk to him.
- Jerk Jock: Subverted in that Eric is arguably the nicest character in the whole series. Played straight by Jax, a minor character in the first book.
- Karma Houdini: The Mayflower sisters never face any real consequences for their actions thanks to their obscenely rich and powerful father.
- Lampshade Hanging: Bryan does this all the time.
- Literary Allusion Title: Every chapter is named after a well-known play or musical. And, of course, Entrances and Exits is from William Shakespeare.
- Precision F-Strike: Bryan is shocked when Belinda, who usually never curses, calls her own sister a bitch.
- Running Gag: Bryan making up ridiculous explanations for his dad’s frequent business trips
- Sad Clown: Bryan is a mild version of this. Although he seems remarkably well-adjusted at first, it slowly becomes clear that he has some significant baggage and that his snarkiness is at least partly a defense mechanism.
- Shout-Out: Tons of them
- Show Within a Show: Every book features at least one performance by the aspiring actors. Most of these are real plays, like The Wizard of Oz, but the last book features Bryan directing a one-act written by Hope.
- Stage Mom: Mrs. Finberg
- Straight Gay: Drew
- Supporting Protagonist: Bryan starts out as one of these, but he becomes the focus more and more as the series goes on. This is lampshaded repeatedly.
- Their First Time: Sam eventually loses her virginity to Eric.
- Transparent Closet: No one but poor Suze seems at all surprised when Bryan finally comes out.
- Unreliable Narrator: Bryan never outright lies to the reader, but he is not an unbiased observer by any means.