Posts tagged ‘young adult lit’

November 16, 2011

Review: The Future of Us

by renata

All right! It’s been a minute since I actually reviewed a book around here! The reason why is: I BEEN BUSY.

But whatever! This book has been sitting on my shelf since I got an ARC in July and I finally read it!

The Future of Us

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us takes place in 1996. Emma Nelson has just gotten her very first computer, and she installs AOL on it. But somehow, her computer connects her… to the future. AOL sends her to some weird website called Facebook. She doesn’t really get why this Emma Nelson Jones person, who kind of looks like her, but older, is sharing such inane details about her life on the internet. Eventually she becomes convinced that she’s looking at her own future, and it looks like her marriage is not a happy one. Her next door neighbor and erstwhile best friend, Josh, comes over to check out the new computer. They find him on Facebook, too, and discover that in the future, Josh is married to Sydney Mills, pretty much the hottest girl in school. She’s never spoken two words to Josh, but Josh is perfectly happy with the idea of someday marrying her.

Every day, Emma and Josh come home to check out their Facebook futures, which change slightly based on their actions in the present. Emma is desperately trying to find a way to fix her future, while Josh is just trying to figure out what he can do to start dating Sydney.

Can you guess what happens in the end? Did you guess that Emma and Josh start dating? You are correct, but it’s still a cute ending. Also, future Emma deletes her Facebook profile, so they can’t spy on their future anymore.

Overall, this was a really fun book to read! I suspect that adults in their 20s and 30s might enjoy this more than actual young adults. I had a lot of fun nostalgia reading about Emma deliberating over which Windows 95 screensaver to pick, or Emma’s mom kicking her off the internet so she could make a phone call. Kids these days probably won’t relate to the trials of growing up in the 90s, although they’ll probably get a kick out of Josh and Emma’s bewilderment over Facebook. Emma and Josh’s confused, flirty relationship felt real to me, as did their other high school drama.

I give The Future of Us four likes out of a possible five.

October 7, 2011

Review: Modelland

by renata

You guys. You GUYS. Modelland is 563 pages long. And I read them all. (Or skimmed some of them. Maybe. A little.) As we all expected, it is awful. It’s more… creatively awful than I might have expected.

Modelland

Modelland by Tyra Banks

Modelland takes place in some kind of bizarre fashion-themed dystopia. Girls growing up in this world can basically either aspire to be models or sweatshop employees. (Tyra’s description of factory life feels almost–but not quite–like social commentary. I suppose Tyra doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds her too hard.) Our protagonist is a girl named Tookie De La Creme. Tookie not only has an unfortunate name, but she has a horrible homelife. Her mother is emotionally abusive and clearly favors Tookie’s beautiful (but dumb) younger sister, Myrracle. Her father was once a famous acrobat, but he was injured during a performance (caused by Tookie’s mother vainly checking her reflection in a mirror and inadvertently blinding him) and is now an angry alcoholic. Tookie herself has extremely low self-esteem and refers to herself as a “Forgetta-Girl.” When she writes her name, she dots the “i” with “FG.” We see this often, since Tookie writes a lot of letters to her T-Mail Jail. Which is what she calls her diary, because it is her Tookie Mail Jail where she puts letters so they can’t get out anywhere else.

Anyway, every year, there is an event called The Day of Discovery (T-DOD), where all the young girls participate in a catwalk fashion show. The best girls are taken away by scouts to attend Modelland, the academy for models. The best students at Modelland become Intoxibellas, aka Dystopia’s Next Top Models.

In a weird way, Tyra Banks as an author appears to owe a lot to Roald Dahl. Both have a fondness for extreme, over-the-top scenarios and weird wordplay. The difference, of course, is that Dahl is good at it. The difference is that Dahl writes characters you care about, despite their whimsical surroundings. Dahl transcends absurdity. Banks gets tangled up in it. When you read about Charlie Bucket’s homelife–his father screws on toothpaste caps for a living, all four of his grandparents share the same bed, all they ever eat is cabbage soup–the details are laughable, a caricature of poverty. But still, we care about Charlie Bucket, and anyone who says otherwise is heartless and awful. Get off my blog if you don’t care about the Bucket family!

Anyway, Tyra Banks does not pull this off, and Tookie de la Creme is instead hilariously forlorn. At school she just lies down in the hallway every day in the hopes that someone will pay attention to her. But no one does, because she is a Forgetta-Girl.

But then, on T-DOD–a scout chooses Tookie for Modelland, and not her beautiful younger sister, Myrracle! (Myrracle, by the way, suffers from Kevin Jonas syndrome–Banks clearly wanted to make her comically stupid, but instead she comes off as having some kind of surreal mental handicap. Like, she says “making in” instead of “making out.” That makes no sense. That is not how a stupid person talks.) Tookie and her new misfit friends (one is plus-size! one is short! one has albinism! They’ll never be models, never!)

Modelland itself is kind of like America’s Next Top Model on steroids. There are all kinds of absurd challenges and classes. Everything there has a weird semi-word play name. The spa is called OoAa. Male models are called Bestosteros. Runways are called Run-a-Ways. The nurses’ office is called Fashion Emergency Department Store (FEDS). Nurses are called purses. (I am serious.) I think that Modelland was co-written by Tom Haverford.

The actual plot of the novel, beyond Tookie learning that she is beautiful on the inside and the outside, is insanely complicated and makes little sense but it involves Tookie’s mother, a disgraced top Intoxibella, Belladonna (the head of Modelland), and Persimmon (a Mannecant… aka servant of Modelland). There are a lot of weird flashbacks and it’s all very strange and forced.

The whole thing is forced. The characters, the wordplay, the world itself–none of it feels even remotely plausible, nor is it entertaining enough to allow me to overlook how awful it is.

ANTM

I rate Modelland two smizes out of a possible five. If you are tempted to read this book, I would instead recommend that you read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and then watch an America’s Next Top Model marathon on Oxygen.

September 23, 2011

Don’t Even Worry About It, I’m Reading Tyra Banks’s Modelland So You Don’t Have To

by renata

Yesterday was a great day! I got an email saying that the public library was holding a copy of Tyra Banks’s new YA novel Modelland for me! Today was an even better day! I got an ARC of Modelland from the Center for Children’s Books! (Never mind that it’s not really advance anymore since the final book is already out. It still feels cool and insider-y to have one.)

Modelland!!

The first novel from Bankable Books? Will there be more? I'm sure there will!

Much has been made about celebrities writing children’s books. Many have pointed out how offensive it is that celebrities think it is soo easy to write children’s books that they can just waltz in and write one. These people have a point; most books written by celebrities are not good. (Notable exceptions: … none. I can think of no exceptions.) So why do people keep buying them? Because we love celebrities. And celebrities will keep writing books, because we will keep buying them. So it goes!

Hilary Duff's Elixir

Do not read this book.

The last celebrity book I read was Elixir, by Hilary Duff. It was awful. Promise me that you will not read Elixir. If for some reason you feel overcome with the desire to read Elixir, here is how you can simulate the experience: tear a few random pages out of Twilight and a few pages out of The DaVinci Code. Staple them together in no particular order. Read them while drinking heavily, with an episode of Lizzie McGuire on in the background.

So my expectations for Modelland are extremely low. I’m still going to read it, though, because Tyra Banks is one of my all time favorite celebrities. America’s Next Top Model is probably my number one guilty pleasure. Tyra is the perfect combination of self-absorbed, trashy, and insane that makes for excellent television. And if Miss J ever wrote a children’s/YA book, you’d better believe I would read that, too.

Miss J

Anyway, I just started reading Modelland so this isn’t a full review. But I did want to share a tiny excerpt from the book’s prologue, just to give you all a sample of what a delight this book will be:

Nevertheless, you and every young girl in the world vie for an opportunity on the Day of Discovery, which is grander than every global holiday combined. Making the delirium even more intense, the Land sends seven talismans called SMIZEs into the world. (What an arcane word! Who though of such a thing?)

Oh Tyra, I see what you did there. (For those of you who do not watch America’s Next Top Model, why not? Do you think you’re too good for it? You aren’t. Anyway, though, “smize” is a word that Tyra has coined that means “smile with your eyes.” It is very important for models to smize.)

Smize!

Smize!

Hope you all have smize-filled weekends!

September 21, 2011

The Power of Maureen Johnson’s Twitter

by renata

As I may have mentioned before, I am a fan of Maureen Johnson. She’s smart, funny, and just plain weird. But I was not always a fan!

The first time I heard of her was many years ago, on a musical theatre message board I frequent. If you did not know, Maureen Johnson is the name of a character in the musical Rent, and someone posted an article where Maureen Johnson (the author) mentioned that she was sick of people asking her if she was the “real” Maureen Johnson from Rent. I remember thinking, “God, she must talk to a lot of crazy people” and then forgetting about her.

The Other Maureen Johnson

This is Maureen Johnson from Rent, so I guess you can see where she'd fight the comparison.

Years later, I started using Twitter a lot. I noticed that many people I followed were frequently retweeting things from @maureenjohnson, so I checked her out. “Oh, it’s that author,” I thought. “She’s pretty funny, I guess I’ll follow her too.” I followed her for awhile and enjoyed her tweets so much that I thought I had better read one of her books.

I went to the library and picked one more or less randomly. I chose Devilish.

Devilish by Maureen Johnson

I chose poorly. Devilish was fine, or whatever, but it didn’t really grab me. I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked her Twitter. So I moved on. I kept reading MJ’s tweets, but none of her books. Then this summer I went to the ALA conference and got a signed ARC of The Name of the Star, which I reviewed here, but in a nutshell: I adored it. Then I went back and read Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes: also great. I was on the library waiting list for The Last Little Blue Envelope all summer and just got it last week. I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked it even more than I liked Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.

MJ has also been tweeting a lot to promote The Name of the Star, which comes out soon. Everyone who pre-orders it from Books of Wonder gets a signed copy, a personal thank-you tweet, and these custom refrigerator poetry magnets:

Maureen Johnson Twitter magnets

Click to view the larger version. So cool!

So she’s been tweeting about this a ton, and I’ve been hemming and hawing. I mean, I already own a signed copy of this book. But I really wanted those fridge magnets. So cool! And I can always give my second copy of Name of the Star to someone else, since it was a really great book. Yesterday I broke down and pre-ordered it.

You're welcome, Maureen

You're welcome, Maureen

And Maureen Johnson thanked me on Twitter!

Anyway, I guess the point of this entry is: if you are good at Twitter, I will probably buy your book.

August 23, 2011

Review: Sweetly

by renata
,Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time! It’s billed as a “companion novel” to Sisters Red, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (See my “fairy tales with a twist” post.) Sisters Red had great, well-developed characters, exciting plot twists, and a very innovative, modern twist on a classic fairy tale. And Sweetly? Well… in my opinion, Sweetly is no Sisters Red.

You can definitely see how the two books are by the same author, and not just because the Fenris reappear. Gretchen, Sweetly’s protagonist, reminded me of Scarlett and Rosie from Sisters Red. She’s been through a lot and she’s a little scarred. She’s torn between wanting a normal life and knowing she can never have one, not since her identical twin was taken by a witch when they were small children. She’s haunted by her sister’s memory, by wondering if she could have saved her sister, by wondering why the witch didn’t take her instead. Very compelling angst.

And Sophia, the beautiful chocolatier that Gretchen and her brother Ansel end up staying with, is another great character. The book builds up a good deal of tension around Sophia, who seems very sweet and lovable, though many of the townspeople suspect her of being a witch. Good stuff, as is Gretchen’s tentative romance with the rugged local Fenris-hunter.

So what’s the problem with Sweetly?For me, the problem with Sweetly is exactly what made Sisters Red so intense: the werewolves. I don’t want to give away too much here, but all werewolf-related elements of this plot made extremely little sense to me. I’m all for re-telling and adapting fairy tales, but the story of Hansel and Gretel originally contained zero werewolves, and perhaps there is a reason for that. And the–okay, again, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the wolves don’t act exactly the same way here as they did in Sisters Red, and the reason given for that seemed pretty bogus. So there were a few moments that I believe were supposed to provoke shock, but for me, merely provoked confusion and slanty faces. I simply was unable to suspend my disbelief enough to go along with the second half of the plot.

Mm, chocolates

From Encore Chocolates

Alas! As is so often the case, werewolves have ruined an otherwise good time, and so I am forced to rate Sweetly two and a half hand-crafted chocolates out of five.

August 12, 2011

Little Blog on the Prairie

by renata

Little House in the Big Woods was the first chapter book I ever read. I loved it, of course–who didn’t? I have a well-worn box set of the Little House books. I even read Farmer Boy, even though it was about Almanzo and not Laura. (Farmer Boy always made me really hungry–those kids were constantly sitting down to hot doughnuts or homemade taffy or fresh watermelon or something awesome.)

This weekend I’m embarking on a summer roadtrip with my friend Anna. We’re going to South Dakota, and our first stop is De Smet, South Dakota… home of the Ingalls Homestead. I visited the Ingalls Homestead with my family, but I was too young to really remember. I’m super, super stoked to visit as an adult. Also, I got Little House on the Prairie and Little Town on the Prairie on CD so we can listen to them on our way. It’s going to be epic, you guys. Rest assured, I will blog photos of Anna and myself wearing bonnets and taking advantage of any other historical photo opportunities available to us.

In the meantime, here’s a review of a book that was clearly written by someone as enamored of Little House on the Prairie as I am.

Little Blog on the Prairie

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell is the story of Gen Walsh and her family. Gen’s mom signs the family up for Camp Frontier, inspired by her own love of Little House on the Prairie and the romantic ideals of frontier life. Gen and her brother are so not thrilled about spending the whole summer doing chores and wearing old-fashioned clothes. Gen manages to smuggle in her cell phone and occasionally sends out hilarious text messages to her best friends about her adventures. Unbeknownst to her, one of her friends has been reposting her messages on a blog. The blog goes viral and Camp Frontier ends up at the center of a media storm, forcing Gen to evaluate her opinions on technology and the camp itself.

I really liked this book. Gen is smart and funny, and I thought her family was very realistic. (They quickly thought of the over-achiever pioneer family as their rivals, simultaneously envious of their abilities and disdainful of their lameness.) I liked that they had believable quarrels but still loved each other and got along. And one of my favorite aspects of the story is one that hasn’t been mentioned often in contemporary literature, at least to my knowledge–the power of technology to make us feel connected. The relief Gen felt after sending out text messages to her friends, even though she couldn’t check for responses very often–that rang very true to me and matched my experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer. It’s nice to feel like you’re communicating with your friends, even by text. Overall, I rate Little Blog on the Prairie three bonnets (out of five).

Next on my to-read list (maybe): The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure.

August 9, 2011

Emerging from the Book Fort

by renata

Or something?

Whew! I have fallen behind on blogging. My summer web design class just wrapped up and my final project for that took up a lot of time. Also, I’ve been preparing booklists for the public library TeenSpace as part of my library internship. That has been a really fun project, but also weird! I did research (including asking all my Twitter friends for recommendations) to pick books for different categories, and then the teen librarian wanted me to at least skim every book I recommended. I had already read some of the books I was recommending, but I had at least fifty books stacked up in my living room to skim. It looked like I was building a book fort. (I should have taken a picture–I already returned a lot of the books.)

It was an interesting experience. I almost never quit reading books after I’ve started them, no matter how bad they are. But obviously there was no way I could read every book I wanted to list within the time I had available. And, honestly, there were books that I cast aside after a few pages, having immediately realized that they were not books I wanted to recommend. It was frustrating, though, since most of the books seemed pretty good and I wanted to keep reading!

Here are the lists I made:

(Readers with long memories may have noticed that I am recycling themes I used for projects from YA Lit last semester. I did have to heavily expand on these themes to make the lists long enough, however.)

A few quick picks from all these books I’ve been poring through. (Books that I have set aside to make sure I actually finish reading them.)

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Krug

A super cute, funny book with a diverse cast of characters. My favorite is Augie, a twee little gay boy who loves musical theatre and campy old movies and yet is actually a fully-developed character.

Mercury by Hope Larson

A graphic novel with two coming-of-age stories, one set in the present day and the other in 1859. Funny and poignant, and I learned a few things about Canadian history.

Mare’s War by Tanita Davis

Two black teenage girls reluctantly take a roadtrip with their eccentric grandmother, who tells them stories about her childhood, including how she lied about her age to join the WAC during WWII.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

The story of a trans boy who decides to transition from Angela to Grady, causing quite a stir at his high school and among his family. It manages to pull of the trick of being informative about gender dysphoria without coming across as too “after school special-ish.” I actually finished reading this one because I got so into it. It’s full of relatable, believable characters.

 

Anything that made it onto one of my booklists came recommended from somewhere, usually multiple sources, and passed at least a skim from me. Check them out!

July 22, 2011

Review: Fire

by renata

Fire by Kristin Cashore is a prequel (sort of) to her brilliant book Graceling. (I don’t think I fully reviewed that book here, so let me just say, it is wonderful and you should go read it ASAP. It’s probably my favorite book that I read this year, and I don’t even generally like non-contemporary fantasy novels.) I’d heard from a few friends that Fire wasn’t as good as Graceling, and that it wasn’t really related to Graceling. That bummed me out, because I wanted more of Graceling‘s protagonist, Katsa. But I’m glad I gave Fire a chance, because it was really great.

Fire

The titular protagonist of Fire (and this sounds weird–when I first heard it, I said, what?! But really, it works) is a so-called “monster” woman. (There are “monster” versions of all animals, but monster humans are very rare. Fire believes herself to be the only one living in the kingdom.) Being a monster means being a woman who’s so beautiful that people go crazy for her and her namesake fire-red hair. She also has the ability to control their minds. She resists using this power, and she really just wants to be left alone out in the forest with her childhood friend and sometime-lover Archer. But it’s not to be, and she gets sucked into helping Prince Brigan defend the kingdom against various rebellions and treacheries. (I’m really not going to go into the details of all that–it’s complicated. Just read the book if you want to know more!) Fire’s relationship with Brigan is initially strained. Brigan doesn’t trust Fire, both because of her abilities and because of the terrible deeds her father did. Fire doesn’t trust Brigan because she can’t read his mind, and because he’s a total jerk to her when they first meet. But perhaps they can grow to trust each other… and love each other? Yes, of course they do, effing duh. But their relationship has a sweet and believable progression.

Now, here’s the thing. Parts of Fire kind of reminded me of Twilight (which is not a good thing, in my book). I mean, you have this impossibly beautiful woman who everyone falls in love with. She can read everyone’s thoughts… except one man, in whom she’s romantically interested. Sounds a lot like the Edward/Bella dynamic, right? But here’s the thing: it’s infinity times better than Twilight. Kristin Cashore is an impressive writer and she really gets into the heart of what it would mean to a woman to be so impossibly beautiful. Fire is reflective without being whiny (… most of the time). Also, as in Graceling, Cashore explores sexual relationships and gender roles in an intelligent, interesting way. After you read Fire’s thoughts about motherhood, you will never be able to take Twilight‘s baby Renesmee seriously (… if you ever could).

Besides Fire herself, this book is stuffed full of wonderful, developed side characters who I really cared about. Which is good, because if I didn’t like them, I might have found all of their soap operatic romantic difficulties a little bit much to take. As is, I enjoyed it and rooted for them all to find happiness.

Oh, and the little bit of this book that ties into Graceling is super creepy (as it should be). I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Graceling, but still–a really great read. I rate it four monster cookies (out of a possible five).

MonsterCookies

July 19, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star

by renata

Okay. Here’s a confession. I really like Maureen Johnson as a public figure. Her Twitter is hilariously weird, and she always stands up for YA lit when people like the Wall Street Journal say dumb stuff about it. (Which I guess is in her professional interest to do.) But I’ve been a little ambivalent about the books of hers I’ve read. They’ve been clever and enjoyable, but they haven’t really grabbed me. And then, I completely misunderstood what The Name of the Star was about–I thought it was straight-up historical fiction about Jack the Ripper, and I wasn’t that excited about it.

So why did I even read it? Well… at the ALA conference, the line to get Maureen’s new book was the same as the line to get Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. And like I said, I like Maureen Johnson, I just don’t love her the way many seem to. And I think part of that is because I am not actually a teen girl, even though it might be hard to tell that just based on my GoodReads and my iTunes. She’s clearly doing something right in terms of her target audience.

Name of the Star

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Anyway, so, I wasn’t that excited about The Name of the Star, but I still felt cool and insider-y to have an ARC of it, so I decided I had to read it before it comes out for real (September 29th). Then I sat down and read it all in about two days because it was so good and I got so hooked!

The Name of the Star is not actually historical fiction. It’s set in modern-day London, and the protagonist is Rory Deveaux. Her parents are professors at Tulane and they are spending a year in England for some kind of professorial business (I forget and it doesn’t matter), so Rory will be doing her senior year of high school at Wexford, a boarding school in London. I really like Rory as a character. She’s funny and, I think, reacts very believably to her new situation. She’s excited to get out of small-town Louisiana. She’s a little nervous about British boarding school, but she’s armed with Google.

Shortly after Rory arrives at Wexford, there’s a shocking murder in London. It becomes clear that someone is reenacting the Jack the Ripper murders, and London goes into Ripper-mania. Personally, I have never been that excited about Jack the Ripper. I studied abroad in London and was taken aback by just how much Ripper tourism there is. I mean, really, out of all the stuff that’s from London, why go on a Ripper tour? Was the Beatles tour sold out? But I digress.  Johnson clearly did a lot of research into the Ripper and pulled up a lot of interesting details that got me a little more into Ripper-mania than I thought I would.

Rory’s friend (and crush) Jerome is into the Ripper and he starts poking around in the case. Rory tags along and quickly gets in over her head. I don’t want to say more! But I loved all the twists and turns. This book was not at all what I expected it to be, and I got really into the mystery. I loved all the fun secondary characters. And I’m already looking forward to the sequel that I assume is coming since the cover says “Book 1.” Really. Put this on your radar, even if you don’t think you like Maureen Johnson and/or Jack the Ripper and/or historical fiction and/or books. (Oh, and the title gets explained about halfway into the book. The title frankly confused me before I started reading. Don’t even worry about it. Just read it.)

I rate the Name of the Star 4.5 Haunted History Ghost Tours (out of a possible 5).

Also, permit me a moment to show off:

I can't tell if that's supposed to be "ty" (thank you), "by" (kind of obvious), "mj" (her initials?), or something else. Whatever, though. Thanks, Maureen!

July 6, 2011

Europe on $0 A Day

by renata

I just unintentionally read two books and watched a movie that took place in Europe (by which I mean, I didn’t sit down to have a Europe-themed reading/movie week. I read and watched them all on purpose. I wasn’t tricked or anything.) and now I’m wishing someone would send me to boarding school and/or on an international scavenger hunt. But since that’s not likely, I guess I’ll just review some international YA books and a movie.

So, I finally read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. And, yes, I loved it. Probably everyone else has already read this by now, and Sandy already reviewed it, so let me just say that reading it made me really hungry. I give Anna and the French Kiss four croissants (out of a possible five).

croissant

Mmm, croissant.

Next up: Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. I know! I don’t know why I hadn’t read this yet, given that it’s probably her best-known book. I really enjoyed it! I had to suspend my credulity, to be certain… why did she have to be seventeen? It would have been so much more plausible if she were eighteen, in terms of traveling as a minor and such. But whatever, if I want plausibility I’ll read Jon Krakauer, right? So, seventeen-year-old Ginny finds the titular little blue envelopes and gets sent on a quest by her late, wacky Aunt Peg. She’s not allowed to call or email home (though she does cheat on that one a bit). She goes on a cool trip across Europe, and, get this, travelling by herself is like, totally a growth experience and she comes out of her shell and (maybe) finds love! She learns more about her Aunt Peg and starts coming to terms with her death and her life! For me, the best part of the book was the armchair travel. I give it three backpacks (out of a possible five), and I’m definitely going to put myself on the library wait list for The Last Little Blue Envelope.

13 Little Blue Envelopes

And finally, I saw Monte Carlo, the new film starring Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester. I went to see it on opening day with my friend Anna (with whom I previously saw Prom and Soul Surfer). We are aficionados of tween/teen movies, and we admire Selena Gomez’s work in Another Cinderella Story, Princess Protection Program, and Wizards of Waverly Place. We also like her album, Kiss & Tell. You could call us Selena Gomez fans and we would not even try to deny it. We were so excited about this movie that we went to see it on opening day.  (I KNOW.) Unfortunately, it was not worth our excitement.

MonteCarlo

I would not advise seeing this film.

The plot of Monte Carlo is: Selena Gomez, her fellow waitress friend, and her bitchy stepsister (Leighton Meester) all go on a one-week trip to Paris together, following Selena’s high school graduation. Their guided trip is very hectic and crappy. They get left behind by their tour bus and rush into a very posh hotel to get out of the rain. Inside, Selena Gomez gets mistaken for a very rich and spoiled heiress (also played by Selena Gomez). Heiress-Selena (who reminded me a lot of Posh Spice) is supposed to attend a charity ball the next morning, but she bails out of the hotel and goes to the beach (because she doesn’t care about the children). Waitress-Selena and her friends get whisked away in a private jet to Monte Carlo. “Hilarious” mistaken identity antics ensue, and in the end, heiress-Selena gets a mild dose of comeuppance and they all raise a lot of money for charity. Also, there are some European romances, obviously. Hoorays. We knew going into this that it would be formulaic and cheesy–that’s what we wanted. But it was just too slow-moving and too, well, boring, despite the great backdrops of Paris and Monte Carlo. Oh, and it needed about 300% more scenes with heiress-Selena. She was awesome. The best part of this movie was the anxious tween girls who sat behind us and offered helpful commentary like, “Oh no! She forgot her necklace! GO GET THE NECKLACE!” and “STOP KISSING!”

I rate Monte Carlo three of out five Spice Girls, but only if you can see it with chatty tween girls. Otherwise, two Spice Girls (and neither of them are Posh Spice). Oh, also, I feel strongly that this should have been a musical. Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Katie Cassidy are all in various stages of launching musical careers. Plus, Finn from Glee is in it. And yet, no singing? Boo, Monte Carlo. BOO.