Sunday, March 10, 2013

Populazzi by Elise Allen

Populazzi by Elise Allen
Published by Harcourt Books; August 1, 2011
Paperback, 338 pages
Borrowed from library

Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

- Description from

Let me start with this: Populazzi is a much more serious novel than it appears to be at first sight. Sure, there's a couple of lines that'll make you smile or chuckle here and there, but for the most part, Populazzi deals with some major issues that teens have always faced. Drugs, sex, alcohol, insecurity, parents, and of course, popularity - it's all in here. So if you're planning on reading Populazzi for a fun, fluffy novel, that's great and jolly but don't be surprised when things turn a bit...heavy.

Warning: There may be some spoilers from this point forward. I'm sorry. I can't express my frustration clearly without giving away some tidbits. Proceed with caution.

{My Thoughts on the Characters}

I'll jump right into it: Cara was a pain in the ass. As a reader, I felt so annoyed and fed up with her. I just wanted her to STOP. Does she not know how stupid it is to think that USING people to become the "Supreme Populazzi" is? I don't know where she's been living for the past sixteen years, but it certainly is no place with a book, or a magazine, or a TV because otherwise she would have realized that you should never, EVER use people. Especially people who love and care for you, and people who you love and care for. Also, rule number one in life: never go behind your parents' backs and do something stupid and silly like BUY AN ENTIRE WARDROBE OF CLOTHES THEY WOULD NEVER EVER APPROVE OF WITH A CREDIT CARD FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF IMPRESSING A GUY TO GAIN POPULARITY. Ohmigod that might just be about the most ridiculous thing a character I've read has done. Really. Oh, and not to be mean, but she totally doesn't deserve Archer. Not after what she did to him. She IGNORED him and USED him. If I didn't like him so much, I would think he has come down with a serious case of STUPIDITY as well.

I do feel bad for Cara, though. Not because she ended up as the exact opposite of what she wanted to achieve (and worse) but because she has just about the WORST parents and the WORST friend ever. What type of parents simply disown their children? Even if they did do something absolutely ridiculous and untrustworthy? NO, you can't do that! Ohmigod! Really, Karl needs to check himself into an anger management class because that is so WRONG. There's no way you can expect Cara to learn from her actions by disowning her. As her official stepfather, your responsibility is to be the father figure in her life. BEING A FATHER DOES NOT INCLUDE DISOWNING HER. If that's not enough to convince you how crappy a father he is, here's more: Karl actually said to Cara's mom that it's either him or Cara. Meaning, if Cara stays, he's going. That is a sign of someone who doesn't want to commit! DO YOU WANT THAT PERSON TO BE THE FATHER FIGURE IN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE? This is the type of person who's going to walk out the minute things get tough. Please. How the hell is he still here?

Oh, and Claudia! Claudia, Claudia, Claudia. Poor, sweet, Supreme Populazzi obsessed Claudia. A girl who has no chance of ever achieving her dream, so instead chooses to live her desire through her friend. I almost feel bad for her when finding out the dirty truth about Cara. Almost, because if it weren't for Claudia, this would never have happened! If it weren't for some serious persuasion on Claudia's part, Cara most likely would not have ended up as the school pariah. 

It is okay from here on in. I promise. No more yelling. Or ranting. Or spoilers.

{My Thoughts on the Plot}

The plot is a bit fast starting off. I mean, we basically jump right into the whole "Populazzi" scheme, no time wasted. The beginning, due to Archer, starts off well and fun. It keeps up throughout the middle, but slows down towards the end. I'll admit I did get really bored. And tired. Mostly from Cara's stupidity and irresponsibility. It felt too redundant and looong. I mean, 390 pages spent on reading about a character that I absolutely disliked. 

{My Final Thoughts}

Okay, you probably think I didn't like this book much because of what just went down, but I really didn't. Yes, I was bored but that happens often, and yes, I didn't like the characters, but I only realized to this extent now as I reflect on my experience. Having said that, I think the characters and this book were written to be shocking and cringe-worthy. It's to teach us that we should never adopt a shallow mind. Popularity: Never worth it, especially if you have to use people and change yourself to acquire it. 

And despite my absolute ANNOYANCE towards Cara, I never stopped secretly cheering for her. You know that feeling of disgust at the things a character does, but you can't really stop wishing things'll turn out right? You'll find that in this book. I'm sure even Cara can agree that she has had a crappy run at Chrysella. A very crappy run, and I think, even all of it was her doing, that she deserves some bit of reward for at least some sensibility at the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not screwing things up more than you already have. I still don't think she deserves Archer though.

Populazzi: The best book to read to get yourself out of doing something with possible drastic after-effects for popularity. The best book to teach you a bit about responsibility, sensibility, and high school. Read this if you think you'll need some good advice on what NOT to do during high school, or life.

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