Review: The Pretty App by Katie Sise

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Pretty App by Katie SiseThe Pretty App by Katie Sise
Series: App #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
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two-half-stars

Poor Blake Dawkins! She's rich, she's gorgeous, and she's the queen bee of Harrison High. The girls want to be her; the boys want to—okay, enough said. But it turns out Blake’s life is not so perfect—just talk to her dad, who constantly reminds her that she's not up to par, or to her ex-bff, Audrey, who doesn't even look her in the eye.

Then Harrison—and every other high school in America—becomes obsessed with posting selfies on the ubiquitous Pretty App. Next: Leo, an adorable transfer student, arrives at Harrison and begins to show Blake that maybe being a queen bee doesn't mean being a queen bitch. And though Audrey suspects somebody’s playing foul, Blake finds herself catapulted to internet fame after being voted one of the prettiest girls in the country. She's whisked away to star in a reality show—in Hollywood, on live TV. But she doesn’t know who to trust. Because everybody on the show wants to win. 

And nobody is there to make friends.

The Boyfriend App author Katie Sise spins another irresistible tale of technology, secrets, and big-time romance in this story of what it takes to be #trulybeautiful.

Katie Sise’s The Boyfriend App turned out to be a surprise favorite, one of the few books to make me laugh so hard I cried. As such, The Pretty App was one of the rare cases when I was completely excited to hear the announcement of a surprise series. Bring on the ridiculousness, diversity, and LGBT+ positivity! My mistake was in assuming that The Pretty App would be very much in the same vein as The Boyfriend App. Though I liked The Pretty App, it didn’t have the humor I was hoping for and my interest very much waxed and waned throughout.

In The Boyfriend App, the main character was Audrey, a hacker and nerd. She was really easy to like. With The Pretty App, the heroine is the queen bee mean girl of Harrison High. She also happens to be Audrey’s ex-best friend. I do think it’s cool that Katie Sise took a risk and wrote a very different kind of heroine, one destined to be deemed unlikeable by a lot of readers.

gif antm bitch please

Blake Dawkins has a lot of bad moments. In order to stay on top, she puts others down. All her life, her father, not with gubernatorial aspirations, has told her that all she had going for her was her attractiveness. Unsurprisingly, this has given her a complex, and the need to prove herself dominant for as long as being pretty is the only thing needed to be the best. However, though Blake is popular, she’s also not liked, because she treats people like shit.

gif antm smell of bitch

Don’t worry, though. Blake has a character arc, albeit a somewhat clunky one. By getting involved in Public’s Pretty App and going on the reality television show, she learns more about her merits and being nicer to people. The main catalysts for her change, though, are Audrey and Leo, trogs (tech nerds) from Harrison High. The message is a good one, but rather heavy-handed.

My biggest problem wasn’t that Blake was often a jerk; it was that I mostly didn’t find Blake all that interesting. She lacked the vibrancy that brings characters to life in my brain. My interest in the novel at any given point was inconsistent, changing with each scene. There are the great moments, like when someone comes out to Blake, and she’s one hundred percent cool and supportive, when I was completely loving everything. The reality television show aspect was a lot of fun too, though that only began 173 pages into the book. I wish the app part had been briefer and the reality show part beefed up, even though the app was the foundation for the novel.

gif antm tyra

The romance also proved a stumbling block in my enjoyment. Blake and Leo go on one date (an all-day date to Chicago, because okay), he says all sorts of things hinting that he’s not who he pretends to be, she misses them, and then he disappears after telling her to believe that what they have is real. Blake’s tragic sad and shocked to learn his secret later on. I just could not get it up for their drama. They barely know each other, but they take their romance so seriously. Of course they don’t trust one another; they just met. The secret turned out not to be as creepy as I’d feared, but I still couldn’t get on board.

gif antm disagree

There was also a lot of random religion in this book, a feature I don’t remember from The Boyfriend App. Some people are religious, sure, but I didn’t feel like it really informed Blake’s character or the plot. There’s this scene where Blake and Audrey have just begun to reconcile and helped Blake’s sister with a problem; it was one of the best scenes in the book. Then, all of a sudden, Audrey goes “Now let’s get our  prayer on,” and they proceed to pray for a full page (140). I just don’t get why this was in the book, except maybe as an effort to make Blake seem more “likeable.”

gif antm oh my lord jesus

In the end, The Pretty App fell rather flat. It has some shining moments with the spirit I loved from The Boyfriend App, but mostly I didn’t care. I’ll still be watching for Katie Sise’s next book, but I hope it’s a bit heavier on the humor and lighter on people getting their prayer on.

Favorite Quote:

“I told you I’m gay, Blake.”

“Yeah, I know that’s what girlfriend means, I said, suddenly smiling, too. “But what’s the bad news?”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif america's next top model fall

7 responses to “Review: The Pretty App by Katie Sise”

  1. Wheeee I read this one last weekend and I enjoyed it a TINY bit more than you, though your moderating of my expectations may have helped there.

    LOVED the coming out scene. Absolutely 100% the best part of the book. And the reality show stuff was fun, but so so short.

    I think my problem with the book was how underdeveloped everything was – Blake’s character arc, Blake and Leo’s relationship, the competition.. it felt rushed and too easy. But it was still entertaining in a way? I guess I like Sise’s writing style, because when I’m reading her books I just blaze through the pages.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Top Ten Books From My Childhood and Teen Years That I’d Like To RevisitMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh good. I was hoping it would be more of a 3-3.5 for you with the level-set. I’m just going to assume that helped. Part of my problem was I expected it to be at all like The Boyfriend App, and it just wasn’t.

      Coming out scene and reality TV were the best parts, I agree. But then there’s all that other stuff, which…was slow. I also had some trouble believing they’d make such a big deal out of an app just for 16-18 year old girls to use a few times.

      The character arcs were pretty weak, not that they were the strength in The Boyfriend App either, based on how little I remember the characters even after reading about them again.

      So the thing that I really struggled with was that I noticed Leo’s stumbles about how long he’d been out of high school, and I thought he was a young-looking statutory rapist, not a prodigy, which made me really unship them. Then it was too late. It would still be a half-cooked ship, but at least it wouldn’t have burnt.

  2. Great review! I actually have this one for review and will probably have to adjust my expectations haha. Do you have to read The Boyfriend App first?
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    • Christina Franke says:

      I’d say Pretty App is more of a companion, even though the characters do come back. It’s very different in tone and MC, so I think it should stand alone just fine.

  3. Brigid says:

    I really really like confident heroines. I think there should be more of them, but the problem is that it can easily fall into arrogance/conceitedness. For example, Karou, Lizzie Bennett, or Queen Isaboe: all confident bitches and I LOVE EVERY ONE OF THEM. I’m disappointed that you say the character is boring and unlikeable. We need more confident female MCs in this genre.

  4. Hmm. I did “like” The Boyfriend App, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I didn’t even know this book existed, honestly. I love companion books like this, but I’m not so sure I would enjoy this one. The characters sound like they would drive me crazy. Still on the fence about this one… :-/

  5. Interesting. I had no idea that this book was coming out or that The Boyfriend App was getting a companion book/sequel. But from the summary here it sounds as if the two books don’t have much in common. At least, it doesn’t sound as if calling the book “The Pretty App” makes a ton of sense, if the book isn’t really “about” the app in the way The Boyfriend App was.

    That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Boyfriend App anyway. I was excited for a book about a techy girl, but I really felt the app/book was celebrating sexual assault. (Really, NO ONE questioned the ethics of an app that makes boys make out with you? Or potentially go further?) So I’ll be passing on this one anyway.
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