Review: Populazzi

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

Review: PopulazziPopulazzi by Elise Allen
Published by Harcourt Children's Books on August 1, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

Likely, you have discerned that there are in fact myriad ways in which this little scheme could go south, and pretty much every single one will in fact occur, except for the difficulty of not being able to find boys. This is one of those books that is just remarkably painful to read, because it is chock full of dramatic irony, perhaps moreso than a horror movie. (I hate horror movies) Pretty much everything Cara does makes me want to shake her really hard, or at least shake the book really hard and yell at it, except that I was reading it on a computer.

Here’s the thing. This popularity drama is very immediate when you’re a high schooler, but, generally, by the time you’re out of college, you’re over it and realize how ridiculous it all was. Because of this, I mostly just felt incredibly awkward and sorry for Cara, while also thinking she deserved most of what came to her. In high school, I was probably on a lower tier than the happy hopeless, but I still would never have gone to such lengths. Admittedly, Cara would not have either, had it not been for the persistent urgings of Claudia, who I hated (despite the fact that she regularly quoted Shakespeare, which is awesome).

However, this book was not all bad by any means. I thought the writing was pretty good, and, though I didn’t like most of them, she did write stellar and dynamic characters. My favorite, of course, was Archer, although I also felt like shaking him occasionally. My favorite scenes were almost all within the first hundred pages; Archer and Cara have such a realistic flow to their conversation, which makes them completely charming. They also make tons of bad jokes and accidentally say inappropriate things and play ping pong like champs. I wish I could have hung out with someone like Archer in high school!

I recommend Populazzi for those interested in themes of popularity and the expected messages that follow such a topic. While not my main interest by any means, this was definitely a much better read than anticipated. I would definitely be willing to read more from Allen in the future. Let’s get some more nerdy characters, like Robert and Archer!


One response to “Review: Populazzi”

  1. Nori says:

    Yuck! I have no interest in this one now! I like your song choice for this one though. It will probably be in my head for days now. I like more creativity in my YA book themes.

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