I decided to start up book reviews once more, however this will be different. I don't do star ratings or book ratings. I just say what I like and don't like about the book and if I'll recommend it so someone. Of course, this is also because I haven't come up with a witty idea or a Steph System yet, so be on the lookout for that. I will also be going back and adding more reviews to my "Script + Screenplay" section as well, but these reviews will be different. I will be re-reading and reviewing all of the books I read when I was younger. I'm aiming for around Middle School to High School.
I've noticed that I've greatly disliked most YA books I've picked up as of late. I know why I dislike them now, and that will be a later post in the future because it would take me a long time to list/explain why I dislike them. However, it made me wonder if I would still like the YA books I read when I was younger.
To start us off, like the title suggestions, this post will be about The Clique series by Lisi Harrison. If the author's name is familiar it is because she wrote the Monster High series as well as The Pretenders, and The Dirty Book Club. The latter is her newest book and for adult readers, the first one she's written in that age group.
When I was in middle school, I first found The Clique series in a magazine that showed all of the top books for age groups, and, if my memory is still intact, I believe my mom gifted me the third book. I was a big reader growing up, and still am, so anytime someone handed me a book I would willingly read it. Around this time I also remember seeing a book on my mom's bookshelf titled Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. I believe The Clique book was written in relation to that book. I know Mean Girls was based off of Queen Bees and Wannabees but I didn't find that wonderfully quotable film until a few years later.
A positive thing about the books, I have to say, is that even if you start out of order, the books are written in away that they also feel standalone. So, even if you don't always have the facts from the first few books, new revelations aren't too jarring to take you out of the story.
Like I said, I started with the third book titled Revenge of the Wannabes. I was instantly drawn in. The series as a whole is about a group of four girls who are in a clique called "The Pretty Committee". They have the best hair, best clothes, and essentially get away with murder. Obviously, not actual murder, but with some of the story arcs in this book, that wouldn't have been too far off. Unintentional period piece mentions are dropped all throughout this story including cellphones going from Nokia and Motorola to iPhone, clothing brands and styles, and computers from desktops to iMacs. After reading the third book first, i bought the first and second books, and then every subsequent book there after until the series concluded a few years later.
What drew me in was how relatable the story was. You have a group of four girls (Massie, Alicia, Kristen, and Dylan) who are close friends, who then get into an argument and stop being friends and try to get revenge on one another, or act as if their life is better without that friend. There is also a fifth girl (Claire) who is bullied by the four girls for wearing the "wrong" clothes and acting like a loser (called Losers Beyond Repair or LBR for this series). Claire, while hurt by being bullied, just wants to be friends with them and eventually accomplishes this feat and is now part of The Pretty Committee but is still her down to earth self, with the exception of a better wardrobe thanks to her new friends.
Now I ask you, how many times in middle school have you broken off from your best friend or your friend group due to a silly argument, or that one controlling girl who was actually very insecure, and acted as if you were better off without them just to soon become friends again? Okay, maybe not everyone went through this, but in middle school it was a common topic. In middle school you just want to belong with a group of friends and this series highlighted this very well. Whenever there is a popular girl, everyone wants to be her or be friends with her. Like I said, relatable.
Or at least, when first written it was.
Now going back, I don't understand how I was obsessed with these books. Okay, the plots of the first five, maybe six books I can see actually happening, but anything after that is way too farfetched and took me out of the story one too many times.
Overall here are a list of a few things that went on in this series so spoiler alert to those who haven't read them:
Okay, i applaud you for getting this far. However, do you see where the story takes as shift from believable to way too far in the left field? Yeah, I'm not kidding, that's what actually happens in a nutshell. Of course, I'm missing details and plot points here and there. Plus, every girl is kicked out of The Pretty Committee at least once, but they all become friends again. I call bull!
These girls, with the exception of Claire are vindictive, shallow, and egotistical. The word bully doesn't even describe them. In fact, now that I'm older, I believe Massie may be a sociopath with how little regard she has to others whom she hurts, just because she's that insecure.
Don't worry, there are things I do like about the book. The awkwardness of your first date/boyfriend/kiss is described very well. The feelings of a new girl moving into town and trying to make new friends is very true and pure. Without putting it into the foreground, Lisi actually touches on important topics like poverty, potential eating disorders, acceptance, changing oneself to fit in, insecurity, self esteem, and many others. The series could have been so much more, and that's what I takes me out of the story about now that I'm older. Well, there's also the fact that character's appearances and small details change from book to book, and Claire is so obsessed and clingy with her boyfriend that it amazes me how they're even together. It makes it seem at times that Lisi had a ghost writer for some of these books.
In all, if you are in your early twenties and come across this book, I would suggest not reading it, but if you do, read the first five, maybe six. After that, pretend the next few don't happen. If you want to give your tween/teen children a book on how not to act in middle school, then go ahead and gift these books! Good luck finding them in bookstores though. What once was a NY Bestseller is now probably super hard to come by.
Although, if you want to read these books after the lightning fast plot descriptions I gave above to see if it actually happens or your intrigued, go for it. No judgements here.
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to review each book in the series, there is 14 in total. Do these books stand up against time? Not really, but if you want something to read or to have some fun follow this TV Tropes Drinking Game while reading the books. I am not responsible if you actually participate in the drinking game.
I may not enjoy reading these books as much as I used to (I do admit they are still on my bookshelf), they have become more fun to rag on. However, because they're more fun to rag on it tends to make me go back and re-read it, which will then lead me on a vicious cycle of reading the books and disliking it, venting out what i don't like about it, and then going back and re-reading it. Maybe Lisi knows what she's doing.
Hope you stick around as I review each book one by one and some numerous other books I read while I was in middle school. Don't worry, not all the books feature in these review will be like this one. I greatly enjoyed some!
Until next time!
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman