Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book Review: "Birthday Vicious" by Melissa De La Cruz

*Although the books I review on my blog are almost always Christian fiction, there will be a few spotlighted regular fiction titles I will review from time to time.*

Ashley Spencer considers her birthday to be the most important event next to . . well, okay, it's just the most important event, period. Hello. So when the invite list is cast and the custom embossed invitations are sent, it's a who's-who list of San Francisco's best tweens. If people don't yet know whether they are in or out, this party is sure to draw the lines of coolness in the most permanent of inks. Ashley intends to prove that there's a reason she's been at the top of the social food chain her entire life, and she's not about to be unseated by some lame website ranking. She'd also like to solve the problem of losing her boyfriend. Will all her birthday wishes come true? Or is it more like it's her party and she'll freak if she wants to?

Having not read any of the other books in the series, I was worried that I would be completely lost when starting this book. I have read the author's other series, The Au Pairs, and I figured I knew the style of writing that was going to take place. Also I have read several other teen fiction series dealing with the same type of characters. Well, after starting the book I was totally confused at keeping track of who was who. The clique is named The Ashleys due to 3 of the members sharing the same name. Two of them end up with nicknames so not to confuse each other, but to this reader I had trouble keeping track of which was which Ashley. After a while I got it, but it probably would have helped to read the past two books as several events from the past kept getting mentioned. The biggest is probably the entire of reason of why Lauren is in the clique to begin with. Also the way these parents let their kids rule their lives is despicable. I mean, your mother is deadly sick and you're angry at her because she doesn't want you to ride in on a Vespa at a circus party?

However, I actually favored this book as compared to other popular tween offering that is out there, The Clique series. While once again, these girls are living over-extravagant lifestyles with constant label dropping, it's not as annoying. They don't speak in the coded, annoying "Eh my gawd!!!" slang that is on every page in The Clique. What is also refreshing about having younger teens, is that there is no talk about sex. Yes, girls like guys but since they are only 12-13, no one's having sex. Heck, you can't even tell if these girls have even hit puberty yet. Also of noted interest is the diversity of the main characters. The presence of minorities in the main cast is dutifully noted, yet it is cliched that the leader of the pack is blond and blue eyed. This is pretty much like a Mean Girls scenario with a younger set.

If you have a tween, and you want them to stay away from Gossip Girl or the It Girl for the time being, these books are recommended for them. I, myself, might have to go back and find the other two books to catch up on what has happened before.
To the readers of this blog, I would recommend reading Melody Carlson's Carter House Girls series over this book.

Birthday Vicious by Melissa De La Cruz is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2008)

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