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A Reader of Fictions: Popular - Kristen Chenoweth

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Popular - Kristen Chenoweth


Author: Elise Allen
Pages: 390
ARC Acquired from: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Ever since an unfortunate pants-peeing incident in kindergarten, Cara and Claudia have been best friends and social outcasts. They would love to be among the populazzi, the highest social tier in high school, but know that they have no chance of overcoming the social stigma of being a pants-wetter. When Cara's family moves to another Philadelphia suburb, Claudia informs her that this is her chance to ascend the social ladder, using her as-yet unpatented method, aptly known as The Ladder. All Cara has to do is date increasingly high status boys until she reaches the ultimate position of Supreme Populazzi. There's no way this could go wrong, right?

Likely, you have discerned that there are in fact myriad ways in which this little scheme could go south, and pretty much every single one will in fact occur, except for the difficulty of not being able to find boys. This is one of those books that is just remarkably painful to read, because it is chock full of dramatic irony, perhaps moreso than a horror movie. (I hate horror movies) Pretty much everything Cara does makes me want to shake her really hard, or at least shake the book really hard and yell at it, except that I was reading it on a computer.

Here's the thing. This popularity drama is very immediate when you're a high schooler, but, generally, by the time you're out of college, you're over it and realize how ridiculous it all was. Because of this, I mostly just felt incredibly awkward and sorry for Cara, while also thinking she deserved most of what came to her. In high school, I was probably on a lower tier than the happy hopeless, but I still would never have gone to such lengths. Admittedly, Cara would not have either, had it not been for the persistent urgings of Claudia, who I hated (despite the fact that she regularly quoted Shakespeare, which is awesome).

However, this book was not all bad by any means. I thought the writing was pretty good, and, though I didn't like most of them, she did write stellar and dynamic characters. My favorite, of course, was Archer, although I also felt like shaking him occasionally. My favorite scenes were almost all within the first hundred pages; Archer and Cara have such a realistic flow to their conversation, which makes them completely charming. They also make tons of bad jokes and accidentally say inappropriate things and play ping pong like champs. I wish I could have hung out with someone like Archer in high school!

I recommend Populazzi for those interested in themes of popularity and the expected messages that follow such a topic. While not my main interest by any means, this was definitely a much better read than anticipated. I would definitely be willing to read more from Allen in the future. Let's get some more nerdy characters, like Robert and Archer!

"You're gonna be popular!
I'll teach you the proper poise,
When you talk to boys,
Little ways to flirt and flounce,
I'll show you what shoes to wear!
How to fix your hair!
Everthing that really counts to be...

I'll help you be popular!
You'll hang with the right cohorts,
You'll be good at sports,
Know the slang you've got to know.
So let's start,
'Cause you've got an awfully long way to go!"

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Blogger Nori said...

Yuck! I have no interest in this one now! I like your song choice for this one though. It will probably be in my head for days now. I like more creativity in my YA book themes.

August 11, 2011 at 8:20 PM  

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