At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her. For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity. But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Hilarious and flirty, The Lipstick Laws plays on known stereotypes in a fun and fresh way. Hitting on bigger issues like body image while still keeping everything lighthearted, Holder has maybe taken things “too far” in all the right ways. Picture those teen movies you roll your eyes at yet watch a million times, and that’s exactly what Holder has done. With great writing, awesome metaphors mixed in, and a great cast of characters, The Lipstick Laws is a quick and very enjoyable read.
The Extended Version:
April is a genuinely nice person at heart who gets herself mixed up in some harsh things in a way that makes her both frustrating and relatable and builds a great connection with the reader. Having lost the only really good friend after Haley moved, April’s desire to just have someone is clear and heartbreaking. Even her thoughts about herself through much of the book helped smooth over any of the bad impressions the reader might have had. Though this is the biggest factor in the events of the story, Holder most definitely mixed in plenty of other things that give the reader a perfect idea of everything and the motivations. Intelligent and naturally funny despite being awkward, April is a girl that most every reader will understand and sympathize with, and her overall development is fantastically done.
Brittney is atrocious from start to finish, most definitely hitting hard on the mean girl stereotype yet done in a way that makes her a person all her own, with plenty of motivations to back it up. Hungry for power and scared to lose it, Brittney wants what she wants when she wants it, and twists anyone and everyone into her plans to stay on top. Despite this, there is a sympathetic side to her without it being simply an excuse.
The rest of the characters have strong personalities as well, fitting nicely into their stereotype niches where needed while still being developed and unique. From the posse of girls who kiss Brittney’s butt to the sensitive, sweet, total hottie that April (and this reader) fall hard for, Holder has plenty of great characters on both the good and bad side of things.
The plot of this one has a great pace, with plenty of foreboding moments leading up to a big climax. Using some awesome but classic plot elements that could be construed as cliché but are inserted perfectly here, Holder keeps the laughs going almost nonstop. With plenty of twists that ramp up the tension and sense of “oh my gosh really?”, Holder has hit hard on the teenage element in this one in some great ways.
Holder’s writing is great, holding a very strong voice. There are numerous metaphors mixed in throughout that add plenty of spice for the reader, and deeper meaning and messages that get past the intentionally superficial nature of the book as a whole. This trainwreck of events is completely realistic, easy to imagine, and leaves a sense of empowerment after all is said is done.
Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publication Date: April 4, 2011