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Popular Paperback – May 8, 2011
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About the Author
A former children's librarian and newspaper editor, Alissa Grosso is the author of the young adult novels Popular and Ferocity Summer. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and currently works as a sales consultant for a book distributor. Grosso grew up in New Jersey, where she graduated from Lenape Valley Regional High School, and earned a bachelor's degree in English from Rutgers University. She now lives in the Philadelphia area.
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When I started the novel I believed it would be a light-hearted book about high school popularity, but it proved to be dark and psychological. And there is a to-die-for, delicious twist towards the end. I won't reveal it since you should read it for yourself. This is an amazing debut from author Alissa Grosso.
Before you read any further, I assure you, there are NO spoilers. Be very careful when reading other reviews of this book, however. There is a big twist, you don't want it ruined for you...Ok, carry on.
When I first started reading about Hamilton and her clique of friends during their senior year of high school, I couldn't help but think back to great 80s movies like "Heathers" or "Pretty In Pink". The popular girls in school weren't always the most beautiful, the wealthiest or had the hottest boyfriends...but they all had a queen.
In POPULAR, the queen is Hamilton. She throws the best parties, to which a guest list is posted a few days before the party. To be on the guest list is a badge of honor, a symbol of popularity. Girlfriends will ditch their boyfriends to go to one of Hamilton's parties, best friends will lie to one another to go, because you can't turn down the opportunity to go to one of Hamilton's parties once you've been chosen.
Hamilton's parties begin to change, the guest lists are out of the ordinary. Is The Clique breaking down? Is The Clique starting to turn on its queen? Hamilton might not be as together as everything thinks.
Whatever you do, don't assume that this is some shallow book about popular girls. It's more than that. SO much more...
Alissa Grosso delivers one of the most complex cast of characters I have read in a YA book in a long time. She writes Popular from five different points of view, the voices of the five girls in The Clique. Each point of view delivers a unique voice, each one more interesting than the next.
I really don't want to give anything away, and I'm afraid I've already said too much. All I can tell you is that you don't want to miss Popular. It is unlike anything you will ever read this year.
To be honest, at first I was a bit reluctant to read Popular because it's a book about five high school girls all members of a popular and exclusive clique. I like reading about characters I can relate to and I was worried I wouldn't find that in this book. I'm also not a fan of books like the Gossip Girl or Clique series and I was afraid Popular was going to be like those books. Boy, was I wrong.
Popular is a debut novel by Alissa Grosso and now that I had finished the book, I think it was a pretty ambitious debut novel. There were six main characters and each chapter switches off between the girls in first person narration. You would think it would be confusing but it was not at all. I love it when a book is in first-person because I feel like I get to know the characters on a personal level. Admittedly, at first, the different narrations didn't sound like individual voices to me but as I continued to read, it got better and better until I found myself completely immersed in the thoughts and voices of the girls and Hamilton's boyfriend Alex. Sometimes after I had read, I would still think I'm at Fidelity High watching the most exclusive clique fall apart at the seams and myself admiring quiet and contemplative Alex from a distance. Ms. Grosso writes beautifully with great narrations from all the characters and the book had a great plot that sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and reactions.
As for the plot, I loved that Ms. Grosso added a most surprising and interesting aspect to it that I never had suspected to be in the book. The shocking part was something I never read before in other books, it was a bit unsettling yet interesting for me. I can't tell you what it is and why it happened though, it will spoil this amazing book but it seriously caught me off guard. Looking back now, I think I wouldn't have felt as shocked as I was if only I read more carefully because it was hinted a bit at one point.
Overall, this is an amazing debut novel that I recommend to everyone who loves secrets and surprises. It's not a Gossip Girl kind of novel--it's a deep and engrossing read that I'll hopefully be able to reread in the near future to revisit the girls and Alex. My reading experience with Popular was so fantastic that its words and characters still haunt me days after I finished reading it.
Reviewed by Leslie for Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks blog