Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ARC Review: POPULAZZI

The Book: POPULAZZI
The Author: Elise Allen
The Publisher: Harcourt Books (an Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Release Date: August 1, 2011

Summary:
Cara Leonard has lived her entire school life at the bottom of the social pyramid.  Ever since The Incident that happened the first day of kindergarten, her only friend has been her partner in crime, Claudia.  But, when her family moves to a new town about an hour away, Cara has the chance to re-invent herself, and Claudia is all too happy to help with that.

Soon, a plan is devised that will catapult Cara from the misfit realm of Happy Hopeless all the way up to Populazzi and ultimately the title of Supreme Populazzi (the most popular girl in school).  The plan is simple.  Cara will date her way to the top, starting with the next rung up from the Happy Hopeless: the Cubby Crews. 

Everything seems to be going just fine, in fact perfect...that is until, she begins climbing, and the higher up on the ladder she gets, the more precarious her position becomes.  Just when Cara is about to reach the top of the social pyramid and her ultimate goal, the house of cards she'd constructed comes crashing down.

My Take:
Elise Allen is someone you have got to watch out for.  POPULAZZI is her first solo effort, but with her talent for weaving a compelling story, I expect to see many more great things from her. 

So, let me tell why I loved POPULAZZI.

Archer is so totally swoon-worthy, I kind of wish he was real...and I was sixteen again.  From the very first moment he and Cara meet, it was love at first read for me.  Part of the Theater Geek tribe, which equates to the rung of Cubby Crews (but decidedly on the upper scale), he just commands attention.  He's passionate about drama and music.  He has a killer sense of humor(not to mention smile), and he's a genuinely nice guy. 

As the BFF who helps Cara climb that social ladder, Claudia is equally parts lovable, but also a little annoying.  I'm not sure if Allen meant to write her that way, but those tiny little imperfections just made her that much more endearing.  I vacillated between wanting to hug her and shake her, saying, "Come on, Claude!  Stop pushing the binder on Cara! she likes Archer!" 

Even the "mean girl" Trista who is the current Supreme Populazzi was relatable.  Yes, I said that.  Even though I didn't like her, she had layers, and the reader saw what motivated her to be the way she was, and I almost felt bad for her at one point.  You'll know what I mean when you read this(see how I said when there and not if? hint, hint)

And, really that's just a little taste.  POPULAZZI is made of so many kinds of win, it would take me a few thousand more words to prove it.  In short, this is an intense, honest look at one girl's search for her own identity while speeding along the treacherous curves that make up high school life.  Pick it up.  You'll be so glad you did!