Tiny Pants's Reviews > Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
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's review
Jan 31, 11

bookshelves: young-adult, series, fiction
Read in January, 2011

I saved this one as long as I possibly could, and in the end I read it in one day, in just two sittings. Every time I went to put it down, I felt almost literally hungry for more, like I just couldn't do it. Part of me wanted to know everything that was going to happen immediately, and to just spend my time reading pleasurably filling in the blanks. I've never thought of myself as someone who enjoys historical fiction, but apparently if you Gossip Girl it up, I'm all for it.

That said, this definitely wasn't as good as The Luxe, which I absolutely adored. I think a lot of it is the time period. Not only is turn of the century New York more interesting to me than late 1920s New York, I also think Godbersen captured it much better. With The Luxe, I felt swept in right away, whereas with Bright Young Things, I often had trouble picturing what she was describing, and details of the city, the homes, and even the clothes felt elliptical and rushed. Whereas with the earlier series I felt like Godbersen had probably done a fair amount of background reading and research, this felt like she had skimmed The Great Gatsby and just gone for it.

While some of the plot directions in here are a bit obvious, the prologue offers enough of a mystery to keep you well on the hook (and dying for a sequel). And even though some plot points are overly contrived, the whole Prohibition gangster thing is pretty darn juicy -- I've never had any interest in Mob-related stuff, from The Godfather movies to The Sopranos, it's darn hard not to have the family intrigue here suck you right in.

The other thing I really enjoyed about this book is that unlike in The Luxe (and in most other YA series), there aren't obvious heros and villains -- at least not among the main characters, anyway. This also makes this book addictive, since even if the romantic elements are pretty obvious, all of the friendship dramas are impossible to decipher.

I definitely hope this series has a long arc (at least four books), but I'll take even just one more. I am a bit nervous about this as the last time I went to a non-independent bookstore, I noticed that they'd more or less given up on YA entirely, and changed the placards on those racks to read (I'm not kidding) "Paranormal Romance" (literally all books that, art-direction-wise, look exactly like Twilight) and something like "Fantasy Adventure" (the Hunger Games books et al.). Titles that didn't fit these two categories -- and there weren't many -- were crammed together in the back.

My only glimmer of hope is that there is, inexplicably, a copycat one of these already out -- the poorly-named Vixen -- who knows if it had been planned in advance or what, but the cover art and copy are nearly the same as for Bright Young Things. Teen model in a vaguely vintage-looking wedding dress, almost the same font, etc. The biggest difference I could see was that Alloy didn't appear to be involved, and the book took place in Chicago. I imagine though that soon I'll be desperate enough to read it. Especially because unlike Bright Young Things, that one already has a second book in the works (Ingenue).

Who knows though, with my luck those'll turn out to be about Jazz Age vampires or werewolves. Sigh.

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