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The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back (The Ugly Stepsister Series) Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Mattie likes Ella, but she's very conflicted about her. She's jealous of Ella because she's a beautiful, blond cheerleader who is popular with everyone at their elite, private school, teachers and students alike. Yet Ella is anything but conceited. In fact, she's practically a saint, constantly involved in good causes, and kind and supportive of everyone, especially Mattie. Ella's major flaw as far as Mattie is concerned is that, ever since the end of their junior year, Ella has been dating Jake Kingston, a boy that Mattie considers Ella's male counterpart. He's equally gorgeous, popular and kind to everyone he meets, and Mattie intellectually realizes that Jake and Ella are made for each other. But what her mind knows, her heart refuses to accept, because Mattie has been hopelessly in love with Jake since she was nine years old.
I am a huge fan of romantic comedy, and this is an utterly outstanding example of that genre. The humor comes from the wit of the heroine, and the hilarious repartee between her and Jake. I love them both. The subcharacters are also vividly drawn, including Ella, Mattie's father, her callously critical mother, the school principal, Mattie's art teacher whom her father is dating, the Mean Girl amusingly named Mercedes Bentley, and Mercedes's equally malicious boyfriend Scott.
The book is set in California, near the beach, and it is accurately portrayed. The author uses a lot of cultural references, but they are never irritating because they are always funny, and they range across a broad period of time, from the 80's forward, so they won't become dated if this little gem of a book becomes a classic.
There is a really fun subtext of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice within the story itself simultaneously to Jake and Mattie overtly working as a team on an assignment for their English class, putting P&P into a modern context. Mattie creates anime drawings of P&P characters, and Jake writes an accompanying script. Meanwhile, the entire book echoes P&P in that Jake's personality contains features of both Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley, Mattie has many similarities to Elizabeth Bennet, and Ella is very much like Jane Bennet.
The HEA ending is utterly delightful, and the author promises a sequel which occurs four years after this story, in which we will have a chance to experience these wonderful characters again. I can't wait.
For those interested in parental guidance information: This is a G-rated, "clean" read. Mattie is a virginal girl who has never been kissed. There are no wild parties and no underage sex, drugs or alcohol.
I rate this book as follows:
Heroine: 5 stars
Hero: 5 stars
Subcharacters: 5 stars
Romance Plot: 5 stars
Writing: 5 stars
Overall: 5 stars
Aside from enjoying previous books that I've read by this author, the whole twisted Cinderella concept caught my eye and had me wanting to experience this book. I'm a huge Cinderella fan! Love, love, love Cinderella! She's my favorite, but I think I might just say I love the stepsister just as much or more in this version. Ella, our Cinderella character, is absolutely fabulous in this book. Even though at the beginning you want to dislike her because reading from the point of view of Mattie the stepsister, you feel the frustration and hurt from her regarding their relationship. But honestly, you just can't but help love her and that's part of Mattie's frustration.
What a fun spin-off on these two characters. I could go on and on about the dynamics between Mattie and Ella, how there's a good connection but there are walls built up to protect each other. I could talk about the change in those dynamics when one wall starts to come down and the girls get to see the other side of each other's walls. Oh it was great. Hurt to healing and a fuller joy of life.
I think this is a great read for teenage girls. Yes, it's positive and happy and sappy. But there are plenty of moments of sorrow and introspection. Some real soul searching and laying bare the truth of who you are. I love how real the characters seemed with their struggles and learning that the hurt can be fixed with truth and courage. And kindness. I can't not mention kindness when talking about Cinderella.
And hello, can I just say Jake Kingston???!!!! Every teenage girl's dream boy for sure! I can't wait for my teenage daughters to dive in and enjoy this book. Yes, there's teenage romance but it was sweet and lovely and fun. And guess what? Bonus features in this new version of the book...Prince Charming...er I mean, Jake Kingston's point of view. Yes! The whole book is from Mattie's perspective, but after the end the author gives us several key chapters of just Jake talking and thinking. It was so fun to reread those scenes from his thoughts. He's the best! Can I just say 16 Candles? Oh Jake a million pats on the back for your wonderfulness. Every young teenage girl needs a gentlemanly young man in their lives, even if he's just a good friend.
There's plenty of teenage angst and lots of real life angst as well. Heartache and not young love type of heartache. Broken family and dreams and lives type of heartache. Mattie and Ella have kind of an unconventional life and I loved watching how their perspectives changed as they grew and matured. I loved their friendship growing as they relied on each other and helped each other. A girl needs a good friend to lift and support her. Someone who will love her unconditionally. Not just teenage girls but old girls too! And I loved seeing these two ladies find that in each other.
So many funny one liners. Another book that I found myself highlighting like crazy and laughing out loud while reading! Definitely one I'm going to (and already have) tell many friends about. It's a book I'm going to tell my teenage daughters that they must read and I'm hoping to find myself rereading it several times over. Mattie's humor is fun and very witty. I wish I could share every single one of those moments with you in my review to show you how much I just love her character. But of course I can't. So if you're a YA genre lover, a good witty book lover, a Cinderella fan, a sweet clean high school romance lover then I highly recommend this book for you. If those aren't your thing, no worries, I'll enjoy it for you! ;-) I'm sure I could ramble on more and more about this one. Even as I'm typing these words right now I'm thinking of more fun and fabulous moments that I loved. Now excuse me while I go wait for book two (there's a little preview for that at the end of this book)!!!!!