Monday, May 5, 2008

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

When Casey McCloy steps into the elegant Bramford building, she’s overwhelmed. Fresh from the Midwest, she’s moved to New York’s Upper East Side to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark Academy. Here all that matters is who you know. The girl to know is Madison Macallister: popular, pretty, platinumblond. She’s not just Casey’s new classmate and neighbor; she’s an icon. So Casey aims to get in with Madison and her gorgeous gal-pals from the start. As the reigning queen of coolness, Madison is capable of destroying reputations with one welltimed whisper. Better to be on her good side.

But after a city-haute makeover from her new frenemy Madison, Casey is wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and meeting the right people—including Drew, the boy-about-town who Madison thinks belongs to her and her alone.

Grade: B // Surprisingly Refreshing!

(Can't quote anything from the book because I have an ARC (ahh! I feel so fancy saying that!) and the publisher says to "check quotes against a bound copy before putting them in a review". Don't have a bound copy yet, so skipping Memorable Quotes for now!)

I'm not going to lie, the beginning of The Elite did not capture or captivate me much. I felt like, for the first eighty pages or so, we were only begin to walk in the skin of the story, only semi-situating within the world there presented. Some of the occurrences struck me as entirely too coincidental--maybe even too convenient--to be taken seriously. This, in and of itself, hindered my overall enjoyment of that first portion of the book.

But, wait, why is this book receiving a 7 if I didn't like the beginning?

Well. I kept reading. Things fell into place, characters began making more sense to me, and I just felt like the previous fog in the atmosphere of the story lifted. The book did a full 180, and I started to like most characters and understand them. While designer-brand name dropping doesn't typically bother me, toward the second half of the book Jennifer Banash stopped its frequent use and the book flowed a lot better.

What did I particularly like? The story is told in 3rd person limited, and each chapter was centered around one of the five main characters. Phoebe and Sophie, two lackeys--you know, the girls who flank the popular girl wherever she goes--were actually not lackeys at all, but fully substantiated characters with important roles and interesting back stories. The protagonist, Casey, was well-defined. Drew, the one male in the bunch, had a captivating voice that rang true to a guy's. And Madison, well, Madison is girl we all love to hate so we excuse her utter sense of superiority. :)

And when I finished the story, I realized that I had expected it to be a lot like Gossip Girl. While The Elite may befall that particular field of books (rich teenagers in the Big Apple), there's really nothing that connects it to currently popular series, such as Gossip Girl, A-List or It Girl. It takes an entirely different approach to the rich New Yorker teen topic, with more human characters and a subtle reference to money here and there. If you like Gossip Girl, you'll probably like this book as well. If you don't, you might still enjoy it. That's the beauty of it.

Do I recommend The Elite? Sure. Will I be reading anymore in this series? Yes, definitely. Give it a shot. Jennifer Banash has created a very promising set of books right here.

Book shall be released on June 3rd, so mark your calendars!


Anna said...

I've been hearing really good things about this book... can't wait till it's released. [:


Amee said...

Sounds like something I might have to check out. I've avoided the rich-girl-in-the-Big-Apple type books so far, but this one sounds like there's more to it than that. :-)

Rachel said...

I've seen a lot of reviews for this book, and it sounds pretty gooood =] Great review by the way.

Anonymous said...

This is in my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it!! :)

Fantastic review!

Rachel said...

Sorry I didnt know where to write my reply from your comment but I already have your link on my *more linkies* section but I would love to do an exchange =] Thanks

Nurin said...

It sounds pretty good, even though it's not something I'd probably buy.

Maybe I'll get it from the library when it comes out ;)

Unknown said...

Damn, you're good. I mean, you know exactly what makes a book and what breaks it (probably more than most of us lowly authors). You're always so dead-on. So when can we expect YOUR debut novel? I'd put money on it rocking. Okay, I'm I'll stop. But seriously: Look out for Reviewer X, people. (I certainly will be!) Still shaking in my, um, bare feet (?). XO

Steph said...

Hope -- Definitely check it out. :)

Ambeen -- I know how much you dislike GG and A List, but I really think you should give this a try.

Rachel -- thanks!

BC -- so glad you liked the review. AND GET READING IT, TOO!!

RR -- knowing your taste in books, it probably won't appeal to you. I don't know.. You enjoyed Private, so maybe. Get it from the library, like you said, and if you enjoy the first one, then you can buy the second one or something :)

Alexa!! That's such a nice compliment, thank you! Hopefully my debut will come out sometime before I'm wrinkly and old =] But still a long way off; I wanna hone my writing skills before I even think about publication. (Which I do, inevitably, as it is the dream. :P)


Melissa Walker said...

I'm so behind on my blog reading, but I really enjoyed this one, too. The depth of character was a great change for this type of book! Yay!

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