Thursday, 9 January 2014


The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

At Penford High School, Brittany 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, Brittany is the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don’t know she exists. One lunch spent at Brittany’s table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity. But Brittany’s friendship comes with a high price tag, and April decides it’s not worth the cost. Inspiring and empowering, this is the story of one girl who decides to push back.

I think it's probably very telling that I read this book no more than two weeks ago, but could not have named a single character from it if I hadn't had the synopsis posted above. Seriously. Not one thing from this book has stayed with me since closing the cover and setting it down, which is a shame, because I think it had the potential to be really good.

Since I'm writing contemporary YA at the moment, I've been reading quite a lot of it, a lot more than I usually would. By comparison to some of the other things out there, including the book I read directly after this one, this was really quite poor.

None of the characters was particularly interesting to me, and there are just so many of them. You've got April and Brittany, the recently popular and the Queen B of the school respectively. Then there are Brittany's friends, her close circle which if I remember correctly consists of three girls whose names escape me. Then there's April's best friend Hayley, who moved away for reasons I don't remember, leaving her all alone to make friends with the popular kids. Then there are the formerly popular girls who April befriends after being ousted from Brittany's group. I think there's another three of them. Plus the various boys, teachers, parents etc that also inhabit this universe. I didn't care about any of them. I can't even remember their names and I only read it two weeks ago. I couldn't tell the voices apart, not one of them seemed to have any personality, anything to spark my interest.

The thing that annoyed me most about this book, though, is kind of hard to explain. It's just so naff. I refuse to believe real, live teenagers actually talk like this. I was a teenager not that long ago and I work with quite a few of them. Nobody actually talks like this, do they? I'll use the Lipstick Laws as an example. I liked the idea of them, I liked it as a title. I did not like the fact that the girls constantly referred to them as the Lipstick Laws in conversation. Something about that just didn't sit right with me. It sounded really awkward and clunky and ugly. 

In summary, I won't be recommending this book to anyone. I mean, if you're looking for a particularly quick and shallow read, maybe you'd like it, but even then I'm not sure. There's just nothing in it to hold interest - cardboard characters, a weak plot and a voice that didn't stay with me for a moment after I finished reading.

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