Thursday, June 5, 2008

Frenemies, by Alexa Young: A review in which Caroline regrets her nasty habit of being honest.

The rule, to be techinical, is that you should never judge a book by it's cover. And you know, if you take that phrase the way you're supposed to, figuratively, it works. Because people aren't always what they look like, and that is what the mysterious they* meant when they started saying that. But when it comes to actual, literal book... a lot of the time, the cover happens to be right. Frenemies, sadly, is an example of this.

If you haven't already read any of the reviews about this book (doubtful), here's the story: Halley and Avalon** have been best friends and fashion mavens ever since they were wearing [insert impressive name here] onesies and spitting up together***. They're inseperable. In fact, as will become clear later on in the book, they are more or less each other's only friends. (But they're popular. They're the most popular girls in school. They're just each other's only friends.) But it all changes when Halley returns from art camp and- eh. ma. gawd. Suddenly, Halley is wearing clothes that (while still being expensive and label-whorific) are the tiniest bit less pretentious than the things that she and Avalon would normally choose. And then, there's the fact that Avalon's chest grew (to a slightly larger A-cup) and Halley keeps making snarky comments about it. And-now- here's the real deal breaker- Halley has a crush on a boy.

Um, hello? Doesn't she know that they've all got cooties?

Soon, Halvalon is no more. They're at war. They're insulting each other, making fun! They're suggesting that there may have actually been something wrong with their friendship in the first place! There is mocking going on, and I'm not talking about the mocking being done by Caroline while reading and trying not to slam her head against the wall. I'm serious! It's like they're both Ben Afflect in this one!**** Although, shockingly enough, none of their greivences are related to being incesscantly referred to as Halvalon. Because, honestly, that would be my first complaint. Halvalon is worst than Brangelina or Tomkat or even Dramione!*****

I don't think I have to tell you that I didn't like this book.

And, before you start with me, it has nothing to do with the fashion name-dropping. I actually have no major issue with fashion name-dropping. In fact, I went through this whole phase once where I was obsessed with it. In that terrifying six month period, I probably read more books about popular rich kids than most popular rich kids will read anything in their lifetime. I even went as far as trying to write my own popular rich kid book. (There was a boarding school involved.) I'm not even joking. I spent an hour a day on the Bergdorf Goodman website. ******

I've read The Clique, Gossip Girl, and It Girl novels- and while I have very few great things to say about any of them, I liked them all better than Frenemies.

I'm not going to go into all of the issues that I had with this book, though I will say that I had issues with almost every facet of it. I will touch on my biggest problem, though, which was the relationship between Halley and Avalon.

I think the reason I hated it so much was that I know what it's like to have that one best friend who knows everything about you, who you've been friends with basically all your life. I know what it's like when that person is the only real friend you have. And it's not suddenly hating each other because of wardrobe choices. I read in one review that this book was unlike anything that Poppy publishes because of Halley and Avalon's friendship, and how deep it runs, and I can't help but laugh at that. Because, like I said, I have read Gossip Girl- and even Blair and Serena, the biggest frenemies of them all, have pretty damn good reasons for ending their lifelong friendship. They do not include new clothes or boob jokes.

There was no backstory about their friendship, either. I mean, if they've been friends all their lives, you'd think that they'd at least have a few fond memories to struggle with. The story starts where the book starts, and it ends when it stops. (Only not, because there will be a sequel.)

On a slightly graver note: I really am sorry to give this book a bad review, because it was so nice of the author to send it to us. And I really wanted to like it. I was all prepared to say that Alexa Young was a super-awesome-amazing writer with an unfortunate publicist. She probably is a super-awesome-amazing writer with an unfortunate storyline. The writing itself wasn't bad. But, as mentioned in the title, I'm dedicated to being honest. And we must be prepared to sacrifice things for our principals. Like, for instance, the luxury of not having people cyber-attack you. (If you do want to cyber-attack somebody, really, I want you to know that I'm actually Heather, pulling an Avalon so that Caroline will be the one punished for the bad review. I just feel to guilty to go through with it.)

1 cup of coffee for Frenemies.


* The They that make up all of the cliches. I've always been curious about the They. There have been many rants inspired by They. Especially becasue thinking about They angers me, since it inevetiably leads to getting this really cheesy Hilary Duff song from the Cinderella Story soundtrack I bought when I was eleven stuck in my head.
** Her name was my favorite part of this book. I don't mean this as an insult. I'm saying it seriusly. If everything else was wrong, as it often was, I remembered how much I love the name Avalon and how awesome and creative it is.
***Do babies who wear designer onesies still spit up like normal mortal babies.
****If you don't know waht I'm talking about... where were you in 2004? Clearly, not in the grocery store.
*****Sorry. Had to throw in a Harry Potter dork name. All the celebrity was starting to nauseate me. Of course,the idea of Hermione and Malfoy nauseates me as well, but differently.
******That's my atonement for writing this mean review. Writing something really embarrassing about myself. If you want to read more embarrassing things abou me, check out Steph's contest for How Not To Be Popular. My comment will provide you with ten years of embarrassing stories. (Yes, that is literal.)
*******For those of you who have read Frenemies: What did that mean???
********Or maybe Heather. You never know...

PS: If MJFAN or anyone similarily minded still lurks around, I included the asterixes because there were way too many parenthesis to begin with, and I am html challengd and I have no clue how to do actual footnotes. I am in no way trying to "rip off Maureen Johnson" by using an asterix. Trust me.


Heather♥ said...

hahah! laughing my head off at some of the foot notes. Except, not out loud. In my mind.

I don't think I could have done as good a job and criticizing this book.

ambeen said...

Aw, too bad you didn't like it. I think that their back story, while not really shown, comes up when they are in the midst of their fighting but still feel the impulse to comfort each other when the other is obviously upset about something.

Reviewer X said...

I liked this book (as you can see from my review). I think what most people are forgetting when they read this is the fact these girls are thirteen. Now, my lifelong friendships don't really exist because we move around a lot, but I know what it's like to fight about something silly. They're making a way bigger deal than it actually is, but I account that to the fact they're both in the upper-class society and can't help but be a little spoiled.

As for Gossip Girl and the likes, and me being the person who said this book was better than all of that, I still do think that. I couldn't get past the 8th GG book because of its redundant plot. I hope Alexa doesn't take this road and keep recycling plot devices, and something tells me she won't. And I think the writing is much better here, anyhow.

I'm sorry you didn't like it though, and even if I disagree with basically your entire review, honesty is very, very important. I love that you're keeping your integrity :)


The Whirlwinds said...

Wow! Someone agreed with us *shocked facial expression*! Ten points to you, Caroline. I was worried that the pressures of everyone else's views would cause others to sway. I really liked the fact that you told why you didn't like Frenemies. Congratulations for another splendid review!

Medeia said...

Mmm, I agree. Backing up your opinions with reasoning is a must.

Veddy veddy well done.

Jordyn said...

I haven't read Frenemies but I can say that I have a close friend I fight with constantly and have been friends with for seven years now... and considering what we have gone through together I can't imagine what it would take for us to stop being friends.

Maybe if I was the reason her boyf died (House reference, sorry).

So yeah, breaking up a lifelong friendship over clothes isn't very realistic. At all.

BooksandLove said...

I always get sad when I don't enjoy books...thanks for the honest review.

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This comment has been removed by the author.
Caroline said...

Am now widening my eyes and sending paranoid looks about the room.
(It's really a good thing that no one is in here, I guess).
Mrs. Young(sounds more respectful, but also reminds me of my psychotic choir teacher)
Should I be scared?

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This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

For some reason I find the author's post on this review really rude...after all first of all
1)They took the time to read and review the book. AND they were honest about it.
2) A review is a person's opinion. You can try justify why a person's opinion is "wrong" in your eye..but face it...when people are reading your book the author isn't able to justify the choices they made while writing it.

And finally.

Show some appreciation.

It's a review. Grow up.
You don't need to review a bad review...stop trying to feel you have to justify yourself and your book.

Some people will loveit.
Some people will hate it...

ambeen said...

To Anonymous, did you read Alexa's review of the review? She explains that it was because the "opinion" was factually incorrect. I found her response to be well founded. If it was just a matter of opinion, then yes, maybe it would be over-the-top. But considering that it's concerning factual accuracy, it's valid, in my opinion.


Game over. Keep on keeping on. xo

Caroline said...

I never saw the review of review. I was actually kind of excited about it, but I've been busy, so I never got around to it, and by the time I did... it was *gone*?
Thanks for the support, anonymous. I don't particularily mind the review being written, but if I was a published author, I wouldn't waste my time responding to amateur teen reviewers.
Ambeen, your comment makes me REALLY want to read the review- because I'm so curious about how mine was 'factually inaccurate'. I thought I did okay with presenting the facts, so I'm insanely curious about what I botched up so badly.
Alexa- game over. Oooh. Cool. So... who wins?


Caroline: I emailed the review to the address you gave me. Did you not receive it? All things considered, I'd say you win. Gift certificate to Bergdorfs on its way. (I'm kidding! I'm KIDDING. Jeez.) xo

PS: Why would an amateur teen reviewer not be worth my time? I have a lot of respect for what you all do.