141 of 181 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2002
When I picked up this book I was eager for another Cruel Intentions. What I got was much different. Gossip Girl tells the story of teenagers living a privileged life in NYC. Blair Thinks she has a perfect life, she's rich, her boyfriend Nate is wonderful, and she's looking foreword to going to Yale next year. Unfortunatly for Blair, everything changes when Serena comes back to town. Serena is Blair's "best friend" and biggest rival. She's seemingly prefect in every way and out shadows all of her friends. But now that she's back, rumors are flying. She's gotten kicked out of boarding school and according to NYC's rumor mill she's done some pretty dirty things to get expelled.
Sound interesting? Well, it's not. Unlike other people I was not "shocked" or "appalled" at the dirty nature of this book. Personally I've read far worse and have not been offended. The thing that really got me about this book was the sheer bad writing. The characters, which should be the backbone of any novel, are shallow and far too two-dimensional. They're popular, dress in fabulous clothes (which the author can't help but describe, the only real detail you'll get in this book), get drunk, have sex, get high, and spread rumors. Each one of them are the stereotypes of every character you'll find in any trashy teen novels. We have the "popular girls" the "deep poet" the "former popular girl with the bad reputation" the "theater geek" and the infamous "shy naieve girl who wants to be popular."
Recent great YA novels like Speak, and Love and Four Letter words have shown the world that teen books don't have to be shallow. In fact they can have some heart. Gossip girl falls back on the stereotypes that all teens are shallow and have nothing better to do in life than to worry about popularity. I gave it 2 stars instead of one because I'm not naieve, I know that there are people that like books like this, but I'm not that kind of person. If you want a good YA novel read Sloppy Firsts or Feeling sorry for Celia, they focus on the lives of real teens of all different shapes and sizes and are much better written.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2002
The characters in Gossip Girl are like real people. When you get to know them you realize there's still a lot to learn, so you want to keep reading about them.
These kids drink a lot and some of them smoke pot, but the story isn't about alcohol or drugs, it's about growing up. These teenagers could be your friends.
The best part of the book is how well-written it is. It's about teenagers, but it isn't "written down" to their level. The author obviously knows what she's talking about. Is she the Gossip Girl?
52 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Cecily Von Ziegesar must be credited with this much: She never pretends that "Gossip Girl" is anything but vapid, vitriolic fluff with no real plotline and no real end. It is possible to produce books like that that are also funny and even enlightening, but "Gossip Girl" is essentially a plodding, repetitive attempt at a "real" teen book.
The beautiful Serena has returned from a sojourn in a ritzy private school and some time in France. Pretty bulimic Blair is dismayed by this, as Serena has unconsciously usurped the position that Blair had been occupying. Even worse, Blair's boyfriend Nate once slept with Serena and is still interested in her, but Serena is not really interested in Nate. Dan is besotted with her, and Jenny looks up to her.
Rumors begin to fly about Serena -- that she's slutty, that she has enough STDs for several people, that she had a baby in France, that she was thrown out of her boarding school, that she's had several abortions, and just about every other kind of vicious rumor. And presiding over all of this is Gossip Girl, a mysterious omniscient observer who reports online about the tangled lives of her friends and peers.
It seems that readers will never tire of the antics of too-rich Manhattanites, especially if they live depraved, empty lives. Like Nick McDonell's "Twelve," this book is filled with shallow, obnoxious characters who do drugs, sex, alcohol, and mourn the problems of their privileged lives. The drugs, sex, alcohol, bulimia and angst serve no actual purpose in the plot; they are merely attempts to shock. The problem is that they are handled in such a haphazard manner that they don't shock at all -- they are merely diversions to spice up the lack of plot. Strip them away, and there's pretty much nothing left. And while McDonell managed some poignant moments and character insights, Von Ziegesar never makes any such attempt. We are never given a reason to react to anyone in this book, either to be interested or repelled by them. I, personally, was only bored by them.
Those characters are also stereotypes, in a fictional world where the elite rich are all gorgeous. The scheming insecure girl, the mystery beauty, the shy naive girl, the weak handsome guy, the promiscuous guy, and dozens of others are devoid of any originality. They are part of the stereotype that teenagers are intrinsically shallow and can't be bothered with anyone who is not of interest to them.
Admittedly, the "Gossip Girl" website extracts are amusing. There's a certain wit to them, and they are also the only parts of the book that show some genuine originality. I only wish there had been more of them, and fewer repetitive rumors about Serena's past. The writing style lacks detail or any sort of wit or spiciness. And, like, the dialogue is so, you know, like, stupid, right?
Perhaps the worst part of the book is the finale, which fails to produce a climax or wrap up any loose threads. The book simply stops. Perhaps this is an effort to get readers to read "You Know You Love Me," if they aren't too disgusted by the plodding storyline and grating characters. Not recommended for anyone whose IQ is higher than their dog's.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2007
I read this book because I'm getting a Masters in writing YA fiction, and I know that this series is hot right now. I thought, Hey, it'll be a fun, guilty pleasure (which seems to be the publicist's catch phrase).
Wow, was I ever disappointed. It wasn't the drinking or the sex or the pot smoking, or even the utterly wretched ideals this book puts forth that shocked me: it was how incredibly dull the book was. I could hardly finish it. The characters aren't characters, they're just names. I found it difficult to tell them apart, since they had no personalities. The dialogue was pathetic, the plot was non-existent, and even the vices were boring and unoriginal. For a "story" about people who are supposed to be so interested in art and fashion, there was a shocking lack of actual style in this book, and the omnicient narrator was just irritating. Every time she signed off with, "You know you love me," I couldn't help rolling my eyes. I had quite a headache by the time I finished.
Luckily, the boredom put me right to sleep.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2005
May I intervene? I've read many reviews blasting Gossip Girl for its unrealistic portrayal of teen life. This is all nice and good, except for that in many respects, it's dead on. I go to an Upper East Side private school in the heart of what I like to call the Pleated Skirt District, and while I'm not exactly the hard-paryin' type, I still know what goes on around me, and Gossip Girl is not that far off. Anyway, Gossip Girl is the bible of many girls in my high school, but I found it ridiculous. I only gave it the extra star for its all-too-accurate portrayal of its subject matter (mind you, its subject matter, which is not all teens by any stretch of the imagination). I have never been impressed with these hotbeds of sin and debauchery, and maybe that is why I was so unimpressed with Gossip Girl. I have to give the author, along with the writers of the OC, credit for making so many people care about the plight of these poor little rich kids. On the other hand, there is a group noticeably missing from these books that can be found even in the worst of the Pleated Skirts- the innocents. Jenny, the closest thing you'll get, it patently dumb and by the end is on the verge of being intiated into the Club. They must exist, so I suppose that the author simply doesn't care about anyone who doesn't look like a model and have dysfunctional CEO parents. After a while, these people just get old. They have no interests other than drinking, drugs and sex, and after a while the envy/disgust wears off and it just gets old. These books could potentially be really interesting, as it's quite a fascinating sector of life in an ohthatssoawfultellmemore tabloid sort of way, but rather than mine opportunities for emotional exposition or character growth, the author simply goes into another story of who slept with whom and who everyone's getting their drugs from. This book and the second one are better than the ones following it- I read up to the third one, by which point Serena and Blair have made up and any pretense of a premise is gone. Oh, sorry, did I just give everything away? Lucky you, now you won't have to waste your time reading this trash.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2006
No, Gossip Girl is not deep. No, it's not thought-provoking. No, it's not awe-inspiring. No, it's not literature.
What is it? It's easy to read. It's guilty pleasure. It's relaxing. It's fun.
Sometimes you need to take a break. Sometimes I don't want a book that makes me think or a book that I have to spend time on to understand. You know the feeling. You may be an avid reader, you may adore Steinbeck and Hugo- I do. But sometimes you may feel tired and, voila. Gossip Girl is here. It's fun and juicy and simple. It wasn't /meant/ to be literature, nor was it supposed to inspire teenagers to become more spoiled or bratty- it's supposed to be a good and amusing read.
Don't take it seriously, you shouldn't live like the kids in the book. But I think it undermines teenagers' intelligence when people rant about how it's a horrible example and parents should be warned- after reading this book, I for one did not feel the urge to go blow $300 on a pair of pants or smoke a joint. Most can discern between fact and fiction, good literature and fun trash. This isn't half so bad as most cheesy romance on the shelves- while not Fitzgerald or Salinger, von Ziegesar isn't too bad an author as far as the actual writing style goes.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2005
I'm shocked. It really worries me that so many girls my age read these books. I don't like to sound like a parent, but these books set a really bad example. The characters are so spoiled, it's disgusting. And they're mean, not to mention slutty. How can this book be a bestseller? It's trash. Don't people get bored with girls acting trashy and sleeping around? Look, read what you want, but parents should be warned about this book. Gossip Girl is a serious waste of your time!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2007
I'm in middle school and I'm just starting the third Gossip Girl book. Of course, these books are NOT well-written at all and aren't even that good. Then why are they so addicting? I cannot put these books down. I'm also a fan of the Clique books by Lisi Harrison, so you can see that I like somewhat unrealistic books. The characters in the Gossip Girl, not their lifestyles but their problems and personalities are easy to relate to, even if you aren't the type of person that enjoys drinking, partying, smoking, and doing drugs. PARENTS: The girls in Gossip Girl are definately not my role models. When I'm in high school I definately don't want to be like them at all (except maybe the clothes- jk). However, these are fun, quick reads that are hard to put down and good for vacation.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2002
This is a great book for any girl looking for an easy, fun read. About a group of ritzy Manhattanites, the Gossip Girl crowd makes me nostalgic for a world I've never known. It's enough to make me wish I live in a penthouse on 5th Avenue and shop at Barney's all the time, except . . .
The people in the Gossip Girl world are pretty nasty. But that's what makes this story so intriguing. The author pulls you into a world of fabulous parties, beatiful girls, hot boys, designer clothes, and of course, a LOT of drinking. You actually get to feel like you know the people (in my case, I loved and sympathized with Serena, and thought Blair was a you-know-what). After reading Gossip Girl, you'll be surprised at what happens in the sequel, You Know You Love Me, and you'll probably find it hard to hate any of the characters, as the sequel deals a lot more in depth with the main characters.
So go ahead, you know you want to! Enter the world of Gossip Girl.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2003
I'll admit it, I hardly ever read, unless it's required for school, that is. But a friend highly recommended the Gossip Girl Series to me, so I thought I'd give it a try. By the time I had finished the first 10 pages, I was hooked: I read the first book in a day and by the end of the week had finished #2 and #3. The engrossing characters make you either love them or hate them, but either way, you're just dying to find out what will happen to them next. I recommend this book to anyone who likes the teen-series genre (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Sloppy Firsts, etc.) If you enjoy books like that, there is NO WAY you won't love the Gossip Girl series!!