I've seen this book compared to Gossip Girl, and I don't think that's an entirely fair analogy. I can see where it came from; the main characters areI've seen this book compared to Gossip Girl, and I don't think that's an entirely fair analogy. I can see where it came from; the main characters are well-to-do New Yorkers, and there is an emphasis on beauty and backstabbing. However, it was much better written than GG.
I admit I've only read one GG, inspired to do so because I like the show. I've marveled, in fact, at how the writers of the show managed to get such a well done show out of the source material, because the one that I read was BAD. The Luxe manages to keep the perspective consistent within chapters, and to have an actual, realized plot (building action, climax, denoument). It also had characters that were more than just caricatures. GG had none of that- the perspective jumped around within a single scene, and seemed more focused on titillating its audience with sex, drinking, drugs, and high end clothing that with telling any sort of story or developing characters in any way beyond what they were wearing and who they were screwing. I suppose it could be said the The Luxe resembles the show, if it were set at the end of the nineteenth century, but I have to give credit where credit is due, and The Luxe surpasses GG, the novels.
That said, while the story is complete and decently written, it's hugely predictable. I had the end figured out pretty much by the time all the main characters were introduced. The prologue, while serving to add a sense of suspense to lure the reader into the story, also makes it painfully obvious where things are headed once the reader is given all the puzzle pieces. I've seen the same sort of plot laid out in countless historical romances- the good girl who has more beneath the surface; the wild, independant young lady; the rake who is ready to be reformed by the right woman; the jealous, villainous spurned mistress. That's not to say the book isn't worth reading; I have the benefit of being nearly 30, and having been exposed to all the romance novel plot devices under the sun. For its intendend audience, teen girls, The Luxe would be a fabulous introduction to that genre of writing. It's got a dab of history, a fun plot, and a twisty love story. Moreover, it's "clean" (which is another thing that separates it from GG)- there is some sexual behavior, but it's handled with a tasteful fade to black, and there is a some drinking, but in the two instances of someone becoming drunk, there are negative consequences. I'm not a prude (I like my smut good and smutty), but I do think there is a difference between writing for 13-17 year old girls, and for adults.
Overall, I'd say this book isn't one that's going to cross the generation gap well, but it's a fun, appropriate read for teens looking for something that has all the best things about GG and none of the worst....more
I spent my day off yesterday reading this book. It's not perfect- there was a lot of originality in the next gen superheroes, but many of the League mI spent my day off yesterday reading this book. It's not perfect- there was a lot of originality in the next gen superheroes, but many of the League member were familiar characters with new names grafted on (Justice/Superman/Nightwing, Warrior Woman/Wonderwoman, and so on)- but I found it to be daring and well written. Thom read like a real teenager struggling with the fact that he's different, and with the way relationships with parents change as one grows older.
Someone on the teen reads board at BN.com was complaining quite a bit about how inappropriate the "masturbation scene" was... First, it's not really a scene per se, as much as it is Thom revealing how he struggles to enjoy his sexuality while dealing with his certainty that his father will not approve. He does look at a gay pr0n website, but there's no gratuitous description, other than Thom saying he likes butch, hairy types. Honestly, I found the book to be totally appropriate for its age range; Thom is in high school, and acts like a high schooler.
I found that the book worked on the level of simply telling the superhero story; it's pretty funny, actually, while recognizing most of the superhero tropes from comic books and graphic novels. This is an AU where superheroes are the norm, and the League holds tryouts for new members. The most secretive of the heroes is actually working outside the League's approval, as is Thom's father, a disgraced Batman-figure (he has no super powers, just skills and a sense of vigilante justice). It's an intersting take on the genre, sort of what the world was probably like in The Incredibles before the supers went underground. Thom, on the other hand, wants to be a real, approved hero, but that means risking alienating his father.
Add to that fear of alienation the fact that Thom is also gay and closeted, and he's a young man with a lot of secrets, whose journey is simply learning how to be himself and be comfortable with who he is. His story of dealing with his sexuality was touching, for me, especially as he deals with his first crush/relationship at the same time that he is outed.
I think this would be an excellent read for any teen, gay or straight, because the real message is one of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and finding one's place in the world....more
How to Be Bad tells the story of three girls who head out on a roadtrip through the state of Florida, each one trying to escape from something differ How to Be Bad tells the story of three girls who head out on a roadtrip through the state of Florida, each one trying to escape from something different. There is Jesse, the devout Christian who has recently learned her partying mom has cancer; Mel, who feels lost both in her own family and in her new town 9and possibly in her gigantic house); and Vicks, who hasn't heard from her boyfriend much since he left for college, and is struggling with trying to be the bad-ass she and her friends think she is. All three girls work together at the Waffle House (sorry, ladies!), and while Vicks and Jesse are BFF, Mel is the new girl who is invited mostly because she can foot the bill along the way. Each girl is written by one of the three co-authors, and the story is told in alternating points-of-view.
I enjoyed this book on several levels. First, I'm a sucker for stories of female friendship. I loved seeing the girls rework their dynamic and come together, even as various things threaten their relationships; this is one of those stories where the characters dig deeper into one another, suffer through upheaval, and come out closer for it. I had a sort of triumvirate best friend-ship in high school, and I can totally relate to what a balancing act that is, especially when at any given moment one of the group is upset or angry at another. Second, I enjoyed the roadtrip. When I took my big cross-country trip a few years ago, Florida was one of my favorite legs of the journey. I, too, have been to Wakulla Springs (we went to see manatees, but alas, thanks to hurricane Dennis, it was too murky to see them), and seen Joe the stuffed 'gator. I've been to Disney World in the sticky, humid heat after a storm. Heck, I've even eaten at the Awful Waffle. The authors did a great job with this. Third, I enjoyed the actual plot. I liked the voice of each of the girls, and I loved how the chapters intersected and yet held their own storyline. Finally, I liked the characters. In a book like this, it's really the characters that hold you, and HTBB succeeds on this level. I was worried I wouldn't like Jesse, who is, as Vicks calls her, "a christianpants," but I actually found her incredibly sympathetic and, ultimately, probably my favorite of the three girls. I also, however, liked Vicks and Mel; Vicks was absolutely the girl I am most like, and Mel was endearing in her insecurity.
I found this to be an excellent read for teen girls, quite along the lines of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. There is mild profanity (mostly "ass," which Jesse changes to "bottom" in her chapters, with amusing results, e.g., "badbottom" and "tightbottom"), and some talk of sex. Regarding the sex, though, what I really appreciated was that, because of the varying viewpoints of the girls, we get differing opinions on sex and virginity, and as this is a debate every teen girl must have with herself, I found it refreshing that it was left up to the reader to decide. There is nothing graphic presented within the text, though. I've read Lauren Myracle before, and liked her, and now I will search out E. Lockhart and Sarah Mylnowski, thanks to this novel.
By the way, I found the title misleading; this book is far more touching than the cheeky title suggests. No one is trying to be "bad," just to figure out how to deal with the curveballs life throws....more
**spoiler alert** I really liked Marr's first, Wicked Lovely, and while I liked this, too, it just didn't grab me in the same way. I loved the first**spoiler alert** I really liked Marr's first, Wicked Lovely, and while I liked this, too, it just didn't grab me in the same way. I loved the first half/ two-thirds of Ink Exchange, once the ink exchange took effect, I felt like the story got convoluted.
The story focuses on Leslie, a close friend of Aislinn, the main character from the first book and the reigning Summer Queen of the faery courts. She has a very unhappy home life, complete with druggie brother and absentee father, and one of the few things that gives her pleasure is hanging out at the local tattoo shop. She desperately wants a tattoo, which she feels will give her ownership of her own body, and help her feel some control amid her chaotic life. Unbeknownst to Leslie, Rabbit, the shop's owner, is the half-fey son of the Hound of the Dark Court. He has an agreement with Irial, the Dark Court's king, to use a special faery ink with certain tattoos as part of an ink exchange. The ink exchange allows Irial and the rest of the Dark Court to feed on the dark emotions of mortals, which have grown scarce since the peace made between Summer and Winter in the first book.
Leslie ends up picking the tattoo that represents Irial himself. As she begins to get the tattoo, her friends from the Summer Court notice that she's attracted the Dark King's attention, and Niall, who is Keenan's (the Summer King) right hand man, is asked to guard her more closely. Niall is also interested in Leslie, and he and Irial struggle over Leslie's mortality and her role in the faery world.
Leslie, having been kept in the dark about all this, completes the tattoo, making her Irial's Shadow Girl. Once she is a part of his court, she struggles to maintain her sense of self, even as she witnesses atrocities against mortals. Eventually, she must make the choice between remaining with the Dark Court or breaking her tie with Irial.
I did like that the story wasn't just about hooking Leslie up with the hottest faery out there, but about her making choices about her own destiny. I also liked seeing the POV characters from the other book from another perspective. I think my favorite aspect of the book was that the various faeries and faery courts are not depicted as good/bad, black/white entities. The reader can find Irial sympathetic, and Keenan distasteful. Gabriel (the Hound), who I initially thought was going to be very one-note, actually ended up being a dynamic character with depth. Niall, like Leslie, has to make tough choices about his own path, and it's always nice for me when an author doesn't go easy on their characters.
I think what I didn't like was that I didn't have a firm grip on Leslie as a character- the faeries were much, much more fully realized- and thus when she was with the Dark Court and time was passing in a haze, the plot got very hazy for me, too. It seemed almost like it took too long to get Leslie there, and then things were rushed and not fully explained. I also found it a little convenient that it was one of Aislinn's closest friends who happened to choose Irial's mark. I could understand her catching faery eyes because of her closeness to the Summer Queen, but it was little too coincidental that she ended up being the Shadow Girl. I just wish Marr would have spent more time on developing Leslie as a character, and devoted a few more pages to explaining what the hell, exactly, was going on at the Dark Court.
That said, I would read another book set in this world. I loved the first one, and this one was okay (good-not-great), so I would give Marr another shot before saying Wicked Lovely was a fluke....more