Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review: "Premiere" by Melody Carlson

A recipe for success or a design for disaster? Although they're sisters, Paige and Erin Forrester are like oil and water, night and day, denim and silk. Paige is an outgoing fashionista who loves to be the center of attention, while Erin is more comfortable sporting vintage garb and recording the action around her. When a near disaster turns into the opportunity of a lifetime, these two very-different sisters are given the chance to star in their own fashion-TV show. A guest spot on a hot teen-reality series and their first big red-carpet assignment give this unlikely partnership plenty of room for success-and even more for failure.

I swear Melody Carlson's YA books keep getting better and better with each new series she comes out with. I don't know how she manages to write so many and keep coming up with new ideas in each one but they have all been fantastic. What I really liked about this book was the fact that the story portrays two girls who are Christians YET fully enjoy a life that other girls live without compromising their beliefs at all. Some people might complain that there is too much focus on "material items" and boys but as I've said before, teen girls focus on this stuff so to act like it doesn't exist is not a true portrayal. Erin and Paige have a good relationship as sisters. While I liked Erin's character moreso than Paige's, I still felt it was refershing to have characters who get along with each other, not willing to compromise their beliefs and still enjoy all things that that most teen girls like. I also liked how the two are older teens in the 18-19 year old age range.

I really enjoyed "The Hills" type drama that the Malibu Beach crew provided. While I am not a regular fan of reality shows like that, I really liked how there are subtle references to the actual show especially the fact that characters are supposed to act like themselves "except moreso". Also the fact that there are always more girls than guys to create extra tension and drama to drive up ratings. Underage drinking is referenced due to the characters on the show drinking but it is never made into a huge issue.

There's lots of pop culture references in this book, and while it might make the book seem dated in a few years, for now it works. It really helps the reader be able to connect with the story and it makes the characters' world become true to life. I'm always a big fan of using real people and not made up actors/musicians/movies etc. Mentioning current social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter shows also that Carlson is doing her research and not just randomly throwing in older ones like MySpace (that barely anyone uses anymore) to show that she's hip. Also the dialogue is for the most part stuff that teens will say, although cleaner as characters yell out words like "Witch" instead of harsher terms.

While I really enjoyed this book, I fear for what will happen to it marketing wise. This is not a fault of the book itself or the writing at all. This book would be perfect to introduce to the general market young adult audience. The writing is aimed towards them, there is plenty of pop culture to keep it afresh and relevant and the characters are likable. The story is not preachy at all and it's nice to see for a change YA characters that have morals that aren't prudes. Unfortunately for this book, it is going to get shelved strictly in the religious section of the bookstore where barely anyone is going to find it. The majority of the readers of this book will likely be already fans of Carlson's work or only Christian teens. Also there will be readers of this book who will be unfamiliar with many of the fashion designers or pop culture referenced in this book because their parents do not let them wear or keep up with the trends. Therefore the target audience of this book will be missed. I just wish there was something that could be done because Carlson's books are EXCELLENT and should be read by a larger audience. Unfortunately until a happy balance can be found, she will be undiscovered by the general market audience. Hopefully a few readers of this blog who have never heard her before, will find my reviews of her book helpful and become fans from it.

Either way, I am definitely looking forward to rest of this series. It is combining several of my favorite elements - young adult fiction, celebrities, fashion, gossip, being a Christian, and excellent writing. A great start to a new series.

Premiere by Melody Carlson is published by Zondervan (2010)

This review copy was provided by the Amazon Vine program

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