Friday, 10 January 2014


Popular by Alissa Grosso

Meet the clique that rules Fidelity High: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, each one handpicked by über-popular Hamilton Best. You know you're "in" when you make the guest list for one of Hamilton's parties. And in the thralls of senior year, everyone wants to get noticed by Hamilton.

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.

This is a tricky book for me to talk about, because things happen in it that you really have to just experience for yourself if you're going to really appreciate it. All you really need to know is what it says in the synopsis - Hamilton has a secret and if it got out it would destroy her world. Oh, the other thing you need to know is that I really, really liked this book. A lot. It probably helped that I didn't like the book I read before it at all (The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder), but I think this one stands up on its own merits, too.

Hamilton is easily the most interesting character, and I enjoyed reading her chapters the best. It's a multi-viewpoint narrative, switching between Hamilton, Olivia, Shelly, Nordica and Zelda. Honestly, I got endlessly confused between Nordica and Zelda, their voices were similar and I had to keep flicking back to work out which of them was a year younger, which of them had the scrapbook, that kind of thing. Still, I enjoyed Shelly and Olivia's chapters, too, but I always looked forward to a Hamilton chapter.

The other character worth mentioning here is Alex, Hamilton's boyfriend, but the less said about him the better. For plot purposes. I had very mixed feelings about Alex, I never quite knew what I was supposed to think about him, or even what I actually thought about him. By the end, I had a whole new perspective, but I still had my doubts.

And speaking of the ending, that was the only thing other than the similar voices that kept me from loving this book. When we find out Hamilton's secret (which I did guess, but I won't even tell you what gave me the hint because I don't want you looking out for it), the book rattles on for a bit longer, but it's lost its spark. Its intrigue. That's not to say that I didn't care what happened to Hamilton after it was revealed, but I thought the book suffered for it. There needed to be something else at the end, perhaps. The revelation feels like it should have been the ending, but it wasn't. And in fact, I would have been livid if it had been. I just think that the continuation doesn't really work either.

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