Monday, December 15, 2008

The Violet Books by Melissa Walker

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If asked, “What is your favorite set of books featuring a ‘girl next door’-esque heroine?”, I would immediately reply, “The Violet books by Melissa Walker.” And okay, I’d follow with many others because I’m that annoying type of person who can’t have one, ultimate favorite in anything. Whatever the case, however, Melissa’s trilogy stands out in my mind. Here’s why:

In Violet on the Runway, a talent scout discovers Violet at her mundane job. She goes from being a teenage wallflower, as the book description will tell you, to being in the constant spotlight. Everything she does screams of amateur, but that becomes her charm. Also it’s a curse because her insecurity eats her up inside and she channels it out by trying to conform to everyone’s standards. She ends up ignoring those who’re trying to help her and gets screwed over big time.

Looking back, I can describe everything in this book as, “That’s so Violet.” Her uncertainty with herself shines through the most here, and it’s where she took root in me. After I read this one, no matter what else I read I couldn’t forget the awkward, clumsy girl Violet was in essence. This is the reason I think I loved these so much—no matter what fabulous things Violet did later on, I could always catch a glimpse of the simply shy girl she was.

In Violet by Design, we get the first of Violet’s many attempts to quit the industry. But it’s short-lived because when the opportunity arises to go to Brazil, she decides to go. From there, she ends up migrating to Europe, where she gets caught up in an unexpected romance situation with her best friend and does the Paris Fashion Week. In this book, there’s a strong health theme: Violet struggles with her weight and the media catches wind of the story. She’s ridiculed in print and tampers with eating disorders, but she never feels comfortable with it.

See, in this one, Violet is a bit more season but still soft at heart. She can’t make herself conform to these crazy standards, and proves her inner strength by being open about her weight problems. It backfires a lot (the press ridiculing), yes, but she tries. At the end, she’s still shy Violet who’s being pressured from all sides, being put to the test, and alternating between rising up to the challenge and crashing under the weight of it all. But one can’t say she isn’t genuine or that she’s not giving that crazy business her all.

In Violet in Private, Violet just wants to be done with modeling. The business keeps calling to her, though, and again piles on the pressure. It’s a very tension-filled read, and probably my favorite. Know why? Because it’s where I felt Violet was the most true to herself and stood up for what she wanted. In the previous two books, she was being conditioned for what she did in this one. Her emotional growth between the books is astounding.

Ultimately that’s what I look for in a book: development, the character advancing from point A to point B and changing along the way. It happened here. I’m not going to give many details about specific plot points themselves because I think that would defeat the purpose of actually reading the books. I definitely recommend these. They’re another example of the type of book that encompass many, many themes and are fit for just about everyone. Violet Greenfield (chromatic name, huh?) is a role model.

Also, just as a note for the people who’ve read the books: Did you guys notice how from the first to the last book, we graduate from darker colors and more reserved lighting to brighter colors and an outdoor setting?? Do you guys think it was in any way reflective of Violet’s gradual self-discovery and growing self-confidence?

Overall grade, B+.
This was reviewed as a part of Girl Week. Girl Week is a week-long event here on the blog celebrating strong YA heroines and feminism. Find out more about it here.

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Khy said...

I love these books. Wheeeeee.

And in response to your question your questions about light and whatnot: OH MY GOSH DON'T MAKE ME THINK ABOUT SYMBOLISM RIGHT NOW. xD My brain can't take it right now. I've already written a page about symbolism in some story we read for English; I'm done with symbolism for today.

Alea said...

Nice observation about the book covers I like that! This was/is a great series!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read these books yet, but the reviews reminded me very much of This Year's Model by Carol Alt. But I think Violets book should be much more well-rounded off since it's developed throughout a series =)

Sarah Woodard said...

I like that about the covers. I love this series. I need to read VIP, still.

Em said...

Great review! I agree, these books are great and a perfect addition to Girl Week. :)

Amee said...

I've only read the last book in the series but I loved it. I still plan to read the first two if that tells you anything. ;)

jocelyn said...

I love Violet! These books are amazing, and I certainly never would have expected myself to love books about the fashion industry so much--books that strive to be realistic rather than "fashion is great and glamorous" OR "fashion is terrible.". But they are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Loved the series!
I actually didn't notice the colour progression but I did love how the colours in the 2nd and 3rd book really come out at you. =)

Just Listen said...

Aw, I really want to read these books, they sound so good. I think that I'll put them on my Christmas list. :)

Beth Kephart said...

Came over here this morning because infectious Lenore insisted and am thinking how very beautifully designed your blog is. Fun to see Melissa's books here with you.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I love this series and Melissa! (and Beth too, because she so awesomely followed my advice)

Unknown said...

Great review!!

I'm reading the first one now and loving it a lot.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice reviews! I have the first and last book in the series..just need the second one. I'm excited to read them though!


Shalonda said...

I love books about all things pretty (fashion, pageantry, proms, first dates, etc.)! I haven't read these yet, but I love the covers. Hopefully I will read them soon.

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