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Gossip Girl #1: A Novel (Gossip Girl Series) Paperback – April 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
At a New York City jet-set private school populated by hard-drinking, bulimic, love-starved poor little rich kids, a clique of horrible people behave badly to one another. An omniscient narrator sees inside the shallow hearts of popular Blair Waldorf, her stoned hottie of a boyfriend, Nate, and her former best friend Serena van der Woodsen, just expelled from boarding school and "gifted with the kind of coolness that you can't acquire by buying the right handbag or the right pair of jeans. She was the girl every boy wants and every girl wants to be." Everyone wears a lot of designer clothes and drinks a lot of expensive booze. Serena flirts with Nate and can't understand why Blair is upset with her; Blair throws a big party and doesn't invite Serena; Serena meets a cute but unpopular guy; and a few less socially blessed characters wonder about the lives of those who "have everything anyone could possibly wish for and who take it all completely for granted." Intercut with these exploits are excerpts from www.gossipgirl.net (the actual site launches in February), where "gossip girl" dishes the dirt on the various characters without ever revealing her own identity amongst them. Though anyone hoping for character depth or emotional truth should look elsewhere, readers who have always wished Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz would write about teenagers are in for a superficial, nasty, guilty pleasure. The book has the effect of gossip itself once you enter it's hard to extract yourself; teens will devour this whole. The open-ended conclusion promises a follow-up. Ages 15-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-Is Gossip Girl one of New York City's privileged teens with easy access to endless money, alcohol, and drugs? The answer remains a well-kept secret, but her Web page that opens each chapter (and that readers can visit) tells all about the in-crowd. Catty, backbiting, and exaggerated, GG's observations are also candid. The term begins at Manhattan's elite Spenford School for girls and St. Albans for boys. Girls talk about boys, sex, clothes, and friends while boys talk about girls, sex, and parties. Serena is the center of controversy, surrounded by rumors that range from her being a sex fiend to a drug addict. Bulimic Blair, her former best friend, loves Nate, but discovers that he's hooked up with Serena. Ninth-grade Jenny idolizes Serena while her brother Dan has a consuming crush on her. Vignettes of school, social events, shopping, and Web-page entries make this fast, easy reading that's both funny and sad. Truth takes a backseat to rumor, and curiosity is satisfied by gossip, not questions and answers. Von Ziegesar's approach is fresh, although mean and petty comments dominate these teens' world. Characters are somewhat stereotypical: teen sex goddess; handsome, fickle boyfriend; unaffected young teen; and goody-goody brother. Sex seems easy, no one worries about protection or consequences, the alcohol flows like water, and the language is raw. Everything is at one's fingertips in Gossip Girl's world, and even cheap talk and the growing pains of high school don't change that. Fluffy reading, this is likely to have high appeal for older teens.
Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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?
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.
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.