Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: Material Girls

Title: Material Girls 
Author:  Elaine Dimopoulos
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publication: 2015
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

The Cover

I don't particularly like or dislike this cover, I think it's mainly the green that doesn't speak to me but that's a personal choice. I really like the dummy with the design tools and piece of fabric with the title written over it because this is a novel about fashion. The dummy on a simple background with a simple font for the author is a really smart choice, it's the green and pink I don't like very much.

The Story

A dystopian society in which young teenagers are "tapped" into creative industries if they show promise for a particular industry. Getting tapped is the ultimate goal in life and if you don't get tapped you and up an "adequate". The novel mainly deals with the fashion industry where it is the teens that make or fail any trend, trends that become unfashionable within weeks because that is how quick this industry works. We love the lives of two girls, whose paths eventually cross. Marla Klein is a judge on the court of one of the big five fashion houses, dictating what is trendy. Ivy Wild is a teen pop star who wears any trend put out there by the fashion industry making her fans follow her lead and buy the same trends. Both girls are basically pawns in their society, completely controlled by the industries they work in but together they come up a new trend, "eco-chic", as they start to question the society they live in.

My Thoughts

At first glance the world in this novel doesn't seem as scary as other dystopian worlds which are more dictatorial but once you get more into the story, you realize this world is far from a place one would want to live in either. Teens are tapped into creative industries and robbed from their youth because they have to start working at a young age and once they get "too old" they are demoted to lower positions and subsequently they become unhappy because prestige is everything in this world. People that aren't tapped into an industry are called "adequates" and are considered just that, adequate, but these are people that actually go to school and university. Trends change every month or less and people are expected to buy them or they are considered "obsolosers". Everything is controlled by the people in power of the respective industries, the tapped kids really aren't as lucky as they seem to be as they're not free to make any decisions. What makes this world rather scary is that even though the idea of kids working is really far off, all the other things are actually scarily close to our world: trends come and go, fashion sometimes seems too crazy to wear, and celebrities often seem to dictate what people like to wear.

Even though the novel picks up some standard dystopian tropes, it also stands out because of the different themes and world building. Also, the revolution in the book is of a different kind than what you usually comes across and the ending is actually kind of surprising. The author includes some new words but they feel natural and as a reader you have no trouble figuring out what they mean. Some negative points are the fact that you don't get any information as to why this society is the way it is and the shift between the first and third narrations; I get that it's done to keep the voices of Marla and Ivy separate (the book is made up of alternate chapters about the both of them) but I personally found this a bit annoying. Unfortunately both characters remain a bit one-sided and there is not much development to them. The supporting characters remain rather flat as well even though there is definitely potential because some of them are really interesting. All in all, the novel is well written though and I had fun reading it, especially as the story advanced and I got more into it.

I really enjoyed the kind of social criticism in this novel, the craziness of the fashion industry, blindly following trends even if they don't look great or are uncomfortable, idolizing stars, the wastefulness of our society, and even small things like Marla's mother obsession with Marla getting married. They are all important topics that are especially important to get across to younger readers, who I feel are more prone to enjoy this novel than older readers of YA. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what Elaine Dimopoulos will do next!

Thanks a lot to HMH Books for Young Readers for the free ARC through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for another great review Chiara! Sounds like an entertaining read, specially the social criticism that it brings with it. I can see why you point as a negative aspect the fact that they don't explain why the society is the way it is, as in Dystopia genre that's something I always like and enjoy knowing.

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    1. You're welcome! It was definitely entertaining because it was a bit different but yeah the non explanation is annoying but I guess it comes with YA dystopian books especially, keeping it more simple...

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