What happens when two besties become full-blown worsties?
Avalon Greene rules the fashion scene at her sunny SoCal middle school with a diamond-clad fist, calling out classmates for their fashion-do's and most unfortunate clothes-pas. She's determined to host the social event of the season—a soiree in honor of her forever-friendship with Halley!
Unfortunately, Halley's new look is one thing Avalon just can't celebrate. . . .
Halley Brandon is just back from art camp and can't wait to share her funky new style with her best friend, Avalon. But when Avalon cries fashion foul, Halley realizes her best friend's true colors may clash with her own. Has their ultra-fabulous friendship finally gone out of style?
From sharing custody of their puppy, Pucci, to drawing up a list of who gets which friends, Avalon and Halley discover what happens when you battle the person who knows everything about you—and isn't afraid to use your secrets to get what she wants.
Best friends. Worst enemies. Frenemies.
Grade: A //
In light of Alexa Young's reply (click) to my review of Nothing by Robin Friedman on Monday, I'd just like to say that if I paid attention to some of the other reviews this book got, I wouldn't have read it. Now, it was a nice touch in the overall scheme of things that this book was actually sent to me (SIGNED AND EVERYTHING--thank you, Alexa!), but this just goes to show that yup, people's opinions may not always correlate perfectly with your own. (But I still maintain that Nothing was just awful.)
Anyway, I think it's just about time to get on with this review, eh?
I'm bad at listing out reasons I liked certain books. Frenemies is one of those - I can't pinpoint exactly what worked here. If I had to take a guess, I would say it's the execution. The plot itself wouldn't be able to carry the novel as strongly as the writing did. For that Alexa Young deserves a commended performance. Her snappy, subtly-engaging narrative is brilliant, graceful and effortless. Tip of the iceberg though.
I'm sure we all remember what it was like to be thirteen, when even the slightest weird sidelong glance from our best friends would shake our self-confidence. So it's no wonder that when Halley comes back from art camp and is styling in a whole new (and weird, according to Avalon) way, Avalon's quips about her new fashion choices put a strain on their friendship. It's a fast transition, and before they know it, they're parting ways.
My only criticism for this novel comes in here, at the friendship portion: We never really see just how good of friends these two girls are. There isn't a lot of back story, which is fine since this is a series. Alexa assures me she's working on making people realize how deep this friendship runs. (Which means character development and character soul-searching, and that makes me go squee!) That said, the split was handled particularly well in the sense that the reader gets to really feel the hardship it poses on both Halley and Avalon. While they're both working hard at establishing new scenes and new personas, they both also miss each other very much, even if they'll never admit it. This rang true. Very much so.
I know some reviewers seem to think this book is either immature or too fashion-focused. They're entitled to their own opinion, of course, but I respectfully disagree with both. If anything, I thought both Halley and Avalon were, all things considered, very mature girls. Sure, they got childish when playing pranks to get back at one another (friendship feud, hello), but who doesn't? Some of the things they did were outright hilarious. And the fashion thing was there, sure, but it didn't reach overkill levels; in fact, I hardly even noticed it. Then again, this isn't something that really bothers me.
I will never bash Gossip Girl, A-List, It Girl, The Clique, or any other Poppy novel because of their shallow and somewhat unrealistic characters. Those books are serving their marketable purpose and they're pretty damn good for what they're designed to do, which is be guilty pleasures. All I know is this: if Alexa Young set out to create a series resembling any of the Poppy books for the younger set, she failed. This book embodies good writing, fashion, friendship and foes seamlessly. Frenemies isn't the cheap-entertainment good; it's the genuine kind.
Strong recommendation from Reviewer X. I'll be following this series very, very closely.
Note: I want to apologize to you, Alexa, for being cryptic about this review for the past week and for leading you on to believe Frenemies would receive a negative review. What would be the fun of telling you I loved your book through e-mail? Hope this makes up for it. :)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008