18 September 2009

Book Review: The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald

Kat Elliot isn't exactly what you'd call popular. She works for a music magazine doing what she loves, and is pretty happy. But all that is set to change when she bumps into her ex-best friend from school, Lauren.

The pair's friendship ended when Lauren returned from summer camp a changed girl, determined to be beautigul and popular, leaving Kat sad in her wake. Years have passed but Kat still feels the rejection. When Lauren tells Kat she wants to teach her "The Popularity Rules", Kat is unsure and nervous.

But the glitz of parties and the chance to win her dream job comes calling, Kat just can't turn it down. But what are the Popularity Rules? And is Kat sure that popularity is exactly what she wants?

The Popularity Rules is the debut adult novel for author Abby McDonald. Abby has written a teen book before but this is her first foray into the adult literature market. Abby has worked as a journalist before, so she's had a bit of experience with writing for published pieces, and I was looking forward to seeing how her book would turn out. It's a book that is close to the heart of all girls - how do the popular girls become popular, and what do they know that everyone else doesn't? It sounds like a great story so lets see if it lives up to that!

Kat is the character who we follow for most of the book. She's independent, head strong and career minded, and not at all the sort of person you would expect to succumb to "popularity rules". This is probably why the book works - it takes a normal character and turns them into an obsessed, self-absorbed person who goes on a journey for a while and then comes to her own conclusions about things. Kat was very likeable and seemed determined not to let Lauren sweet-talk her round again, so I did feel almost slightly disappointed when she decided to live by the Rules! You can see Kat's transformation happen really well throughout the book, McDonald really shows us the changes in her and I enjoyed this part of the book.

The other main character we see is Lauren. She's an American which immediately sets her apart from Londoner Kat, and the back story between the pair is well explained so that the reader knows why there is animosity between the pair. In a way, I felt very sorry for Lauren because of how much she stuck to the Rules, even when they weren't exactly good for her, but it just goes to show how people can be sucked in to things when they believe its for their greater good. Although I did feel sorry for her, I really liked Lauren and yuou could see her heart was in the right place, albeit somewhat obsessively! Special mention has to go to Oscar, Kat's groupie who was the comic relief in the book and just a brilliant character!

The relationship between the pair was very curious and I enjoyed seeing how things kept chopping and changing between the pair as things happened to affect the friendship in the book. It did feel false, but I do think thats the point of the moral - a friendship built on false pretences and foundations isn't a good friendship to have. You can see the old Kat peeking through when she's being the "popular Kat", and Lauren's reaction to this was good - she was determined to get rid of the old Kat completely and for this I disliked her a lot! The moral of the story is good - popularity may not be all it's cracked up to be and you might end up not recognising yourself!

I had a little problem with this book, and that was the pace at the beginning. I found it a little hard to get into because the introduction to Kat seemed to drag on for a little bit and I think it would have benefitted from being a little quicker to get to the Popularity Rules part as I did begin to lose a little interest at the start. However, once it really got going, it was very readable and I was engrossed in it, but it's a shame that the start wasn't quite as captivating as I had hoped. Other than that minor blip though, I haven't really got any complaints!

I enjoyed the way The Popularity Rules were written throughout the book, and they generally applied to the chapters that were following them in the book. At the end of each chapter, there was an extract of a particular rule, and I found them quite funny, and a good break between the chapters of the book too. It kept me engaged and I was always interested to see how a particular rule would apply to what was going to happen to Kat next. It was a very good book, and I think it's a debut that Abby McDonald should be proud of. She brings back her Oxford Uni roots in the book for a little bit, and I liked that part and felt it made it a little more personal! Overall, it was very enjoyable and a fun read, and I would recommend it.

Released on 25th September.

Rating: 4/5

Thank you to the publishers ARROW for sending me a copy to review.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, great review! I've been really looking forward to reading this book and made a post about it last night mentioning that you should have a review up soon - I'll add it to my post now! :)