But Hamilton's elite entourage is coming apart at the seams. Olivia fantasizes about finally having a boyfriend, Zelda dreams of ditching high school, Nordica wants to be alone with her photography, and Shelly's plotting to dethrone Hamilton. Lies and secrets are ripping away the careful ties that have kept them together for years. But Hamilton has the biggest secret of all, one that only her boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would shock everyone and destroy Hamilton's fragile world—and she'll do anything to protect her secret and keep her clique together.
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Intriguing and a bold take on shallowness and cliques, Popular weaves four separate perspectives into one growing mystery. Showing the inner workings of the popular clique, and playing on stereotypes in a way that most definitely works, Grosso has written something both fun and intense. Though the voice between the five girls do all hold similar elements, the personalities are distinct enough for the reader to keep them separated, and their individual role in the overall story comes through strongly.
The Extended Version:
Hamilton is the head girl of the school, the one that popular clique centers around, and though she comes off as aloof and noncaring to others, the look into her head reveals a girl who is trying a little too hard to hold on to the current, and scared of what’s to come after high school. With a surprising amount of depth to her, and a perceptiveness that she masks well, Hamilton gives a great voice to the popular girl, while still being someone to want to maybe sink your claws into.
The remainder of the clique is Shelly, Zelda, Olivia and Noridca. Each have their own reasons for being on the group, and each with their own way of becoming part of it. Their distinctive personalities magnify the terseness that exists within their tight knit clique, and Grosso has done a remarkable job of showing the bitterness and affection that exists between them. Hatred and loyalty run hand in hand with these girls, and the catty remarks and growing discontent between them is a well developed and strong driving point for the plot as a whole.
Though potentially stereotypical and cliché in premise, Grosso has definitely woven a tale that is something she can call her own, and something that will keep readers engaged and curious. From various love interests to backstabbing type plots, there are a lot of known elements uniquely presented within this book. Covering a range of emotions from awkwardness and shyness to snotty overconfidence, both the book and the characters are multidimensional in the best of ways.
Groso’s writing is strong and easy to fall into overall, but the individual voices didn’t differ quite enough for this reader. There was a common element amongst them all, and though it detracted some, it definitely isn’t enough to be a turn off. The transitions between each different perspective happen at great times, sometimes feeding within a scene and other times switching things completely, but Gross ensures there is no confusion with any of them.
With a steadily paced plot, characters who aren’t always predictable, and a well developed mystery with plenty of secrets, Popular is definitely one for contemporary lovers to pick up. Emotional at times, intriguing at others, and fun throughout, Grosso has shown her ability to cover a range of situations smoothly. A promising debut, Popular is a fast, get away for a few hours kind of read that is worth the journey.
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Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publication Date: May 8, 2011