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Modelland Hardcover – September 13, 2011
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Tyra Banks on Modelland
From the moment the idea for Modelland came to me while driving down the FDR to the second my editor said, "Pencils down, Tyra," five long years passed, but Modelland finally made its way into the world. Once the novel hit the shelves, I began smizing from ear to ear and then embarked on a five-city tour to bring Modelland to my fam. (I call them fams not fans because they are family to me!) In between Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and New York, I found one common theme between everyone that came to see me. In every city, young girls shared fears and questions on how to accept their appearances and how to deal with bullies who make self-love that much harder.
When I was in elementary school, I was the mean girl; I was the bully. Then I turned 11, grew 3 inches, lost 30 pounds in three months, and suddenly found that I was the one being bullied. Perhaps this action was deserved? I got the chance to see how I made other girls feel when I was the leader of the mean pack. Nevertheless, I’ve seen both spectrums and want children and adults all over to realize that bullying is not ok.
On my book tour, I realized that Modelland would allow me to continue to reach young girls and push society’s idea of beautiful, just like America’s Next Top Model. Anyone who’s watched the show knows that I am passionate about atypical beauties, and Modelland is continuing that idea.
The campy, fun, and adventurous world of Tookie De La Crème and Modelland works to share the message of celebrating individuality and unique beauty by transporting readers to my wacky, neon magical world of fantasy, sprinkled with glimpses of my personal life, experiences, and a larger message of beauty and acceptance.
While I dreamt up Tookie, I put many of my own traits into her personality and appearance--from her forehead that goes on and on and on to her insecurity to the fact that she started modeling at 15. More importantly, I created Tookie to relate to everyone and serve as a platform for discussion regarding the fact that beauty should not be defined by clothing size, hair color, or body shape. I want my readers to connect with Tookie and her friends in Modelland--Shiraz, Dylan, and Piper--because they are different, because they are unique, and because they represent YOU.
So now I give Modelland to you and encourage you to not only enter the thrilling world, but connect with Tookie and her journey while expanding your own definition of beauty.
"The combination of absurdity, social commentary, and familiar tropes makes it an enjoyable guilty pleasure."
- Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Let me be clear on something first; I have been an avid reader ever since I learned how to read. I read constantly--I'd say on average a couple of books a week, unless I'm working on something of truly epic length. I will give pretty much anything a try, from non-fiction to just about any genre of fiction that exists, which unfortunately means that I have stumbled across a few books truly mind-bending in just how heinously eye-gouging they are.
With that being said, I am pretty certain this is literally the worst book I have ever read. Now, to be clear, I went into this assuming it was going to be bad--actually, I went into this assuming it was going to be very, very bad. I thought it would be good for a few laughs, a couple of eye rolls, a snark here and there...and then I began actually reading it, and I discovered that, like a protagonist in one of the Anaconda movies who has just discovered there is a giant man-eating snake with the persistence of an entire special ops unit after them, I needed to get the hell out, NOW.
And yet I did not. I kept reading, because I genuinely could not believe my eyes--what kind of ADULT writes like this? I understand this is a YA novel, but there are plenty of well-written YA novels out in this great wide world, so I hardly consider that an excuse. I really do not know where to begin with this review. From ridiculous names (yes this is a fantasy novel, but please--Tookie? Creamy? Bravo? Zarpessa? Theowhateverthehellhisnamewas Lovelaces?) to utterly stupid plotlines (sashes that impart magical model powers, bratty models turned cats and doctors with roller skates for feet, among a few), this book boils over with WTF moments that rival Edward Cullen eating his baby out of Bella's uterus. The romance between the lead character and a ripply-muscled slab of manmeat whose only flaw is ragged nails consists of thumb sucking and heart-pounding comparisons of Tookie's eyes to mint and chocolate. Whose heart did not skip a beat, after all, when Tookie's tickling hips felt that tingly wash of heat upon the first tentative union between Bravo's thumb and her tongue? I personally nearly swooned.
Tyra's writing alone is atrocious; even an amazing idea buried underneath such gems as 'Too-too just mouth pee-peed all over you!' could not have come close to saving this book. From Mary Sues to mop hair (literally) nostril raping Tookie while she lies in an infirmary where nurses are called purses and have knives for boobs, there is so much wrong with this book that I could write an entire dissertation on it and still not come close to skimming the surface of just how bad this is.
We have hunchbacks with clever nicknames like 'Hunchy,' bedcovers with faces on them magically enticed to life by the aforementioned magical sashes, monsters assembled from musical instruments that eat people (but apprently do not have an appetite for arms), bad poetry and theme songs galore, chapters with titles like 'Stunning, Statuesque, Strobotronic Stars With Stupefying Stratospheric Struts...I could go on and on. There is so much thesaurus rape present in this novel that I can still hear the poor thing whimpering for sweet, merciful death.
Two plus sides to reading this book: I admit I did get a lot of laughs out of just how bad it was and how seriously Tyra seemed to take it all, and of course, now anytime someone displeases me, I can regale them with the Modelland theme song until they bleed from the ears...or jump out the nearest window. If you think you have the stomach for it, by all means, read this book; I really was in awe of how ridiculously awful the entire thing was. Just, you know, borrow it from the library or something. If I had actually paid for this, I assume I would have thrown myself into oncoming traffic immediately upon completing it.
The first think I noticed about the novel were the questionable name choices for the characters. Tookie De La Creme; her sister, Myrracle De La Creme; her mother, Creamy De La Creme. Zarpessa Zarionneaux. Ci~L, along with most of the people in Modelland. Whimsical names I can handle, but these are ridiculous (eye-roll inducing, actually). Only the minor characters seem to get normal-sounding names.
The book showcases everything that's wrong with popular culture today. It's a feminist's nightmare: an entire society of shallow girls/women who aspire to nothing beyond beauty and the lure of Modelland. Where you're a Forgetta-Girl if you're perceived to be unattractive. Mothers prepare their children from before they're born for the Day of Discovery to be a famous Intoxibella, who gain superpowers through their training. And not being chosen makes the truly vain/obsessed "diseased" with an affliction worse than the Bubonic Plague. The internalized misogyny is staggering. So much for the strong girls Banks lauds in her intro. It's the wrong message to send teenage girls, to aspire to beauty before everything else (because even Tookie envies the Intoxibellas). Modelland itself is the single source of happiness for the entire world -- a sick, sad reflection of trends in society.
Stereotypes abound, as do bland one-dimensional characters. Not one character is particularly likable, most notably Tookie. The ugly duckling protagonist didn't garner any sympathy. In fact, Banks goes out of her way to make Tookie boring. Why do I want to read about a boring nobody? Oh wait, I don't. She's a clumsy, awkward, ~special snowflake~...hmm, where have I read *that* one before.
The world-building is laughable for a fantasy novel. Names for locations are as bad as the names given to characters. StripTown, SansColor, Kremlingrad, FiveHundred, Bou-Big-Tique Nation? So bad it spoofs itself. Seems like their entire world revolves around the industry of fashion, beauty, or entertainment, and I have a hard time believing that.
Finding the SM-IZEs in the water is lifted straight out of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and turns out exactly how you'd predict. The storyline is a bastardized adaptation of Harry Potter, and it's a poor imitation in every aspect. Repulsive parents fawning over other sibling? Check. Mysterious school where ~magical~ things happen? Check. A student who inexplicably hates the protagonist? Check. A game in which the protagonist excels? Check. It's too bad none of the plot was copied over.
The book is way too long for what little actually happens. Too much emphasis is placed on what people look like and the clothes they're wearing and not enough on character development. Or plot. At times, it reads like a bad reality TV show. Tension comes out of nowhere and feels forced. The ending is fairly anticlimactic and really sort of pointless.
The novel had some good ideas and elements, all of which were poorly developed and poorly written. It could've been a powerful statement against a superficial culture, but instead it does too much to glorify it. Maybe by the end of the third book, a positive message will come out, but Banks doesn't do the job here. A weak start for the series. In the hands of a decent writer, this might have been a compelling story.