Saturday, December 4, 2010
Book 54 - Populazzi
There is nothing paranormal about Populazzi.
But here's the thing. Elise Allen can write, and Populazzi is a smoking example of her obvious talent. After downloading the advance reader copy off the NetGalley website, I was gushing after the first chapter.
If you once read Sweet Valley High, the style of Populazzi will be quite familiar to you. Except, this book is a more modern demonstration of the ups and downs of being a teenager in today's world.
Cara and Claudia have been best friends since Kindergarden, when their relationship began - and was sealed - with a unique peeing-in-their-pants bonding ritual. The event secured their spot in Loser-ville, a position neither of them wishes to covet.
So when Cara and her family move to a new community and Cara is forced to switch high schools, Claudia devises a plan to help her best friend out - the Ladder. According to Claudia, the only way to become the Supreme Populazzi is to follow a binder full of rules for climbing the popularity ladder. A reluctant Cara accepts the challenge.
Along the way, Cara learns, of course, that becoming the most popular girl in the school isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The storyline is somewhat predictable, and I struggled a bit through the last chapters (not to mention the fact that NetGalley chopped off the last few pages so I'm not totally sure if Cara's life completely straightened out) but for most of the book, I flipped each virtual page with a giant grin.
Allen is a master of dialogue, and I found the exchanges between Cara and almost every other character either made me laugh out loud or ache. Even though I know most of the drama is brought on by her own actions, Cara is a sympathetic character and when she hurt, so did I.
Despite the comparison to Sweet Valley High, I'd recommend giving it a scan before passing it off on a young teen. Cara makes some decisions in her quest to become Supreme Populazzi that may be considered a bit old for younger readers. That said, I doubt there's anything in the book today's teenager hasn't seen - even from a distance. I like that Allen doesn't mince words.
Without a Kindle, I could only view this book on my computer screen, which isn't the best reading platform. Still, I enjoyed most of this novel enough to keep hitting the return button. Populazzi won't hit the top 10 list of books I've devoured this year, but I admit, I'm still smiling over some of the conversation, and writers of YA would do well to study Allen's tight, clever writing style.
The Book in My Bag Today: Going Bovine, Libba Bray