Summary - Being the new girl is tough: just ask sixteen-year-old Rio Jones. A New York transplant, Rio has no clue how she's going to fit in at her fancy new private school in Southern California. Plus, being late, overdressed, and named after a Duran Duran song doesn't help make the first day any easier. Then, Rio meets Kristi. Beautiful, rich, and a cheerleader, Kristi is the queen bee of Newport Beach. And, Kristi isn't friends with just anyone, so Rio is thrilled when she’s invited to be part of the most exclusive, popular clique world of underage drinking, drug dabbling, and hooking-up. At first, Rio is having a great time. But, as she becomes more immersed in this jet set crowd, Rio figures out there is one unspoken rule that her new friends forgot to mention: don't cross Kristi.
Review - Having not been terribly impressed with the Evermore series, old school contemporary Alyson Noel hit the sweet spot and reminded me of what she does best. Rio moves to the deliciously shallow community in Southern California and immediately feels out of her depth in both the geek and the popular crowds. Though she feels slightly more comfortable and able to be herself with the geeks, she is swayed to the dark side when her romantic feelings are shut down in an oblivious but insensitive way.
What’s to love? That there isn’t one place where Rio feels she can be herself entirely which is true for all of us. While friends are usually very supportive, it is rare (and enviable) that one can share everything or feel comfortable from the outset. Rio’s spiral into popularity and the other not-so-nice elements that come along with it are fun, disturbing and understandable.
There is a Mean Girls element to it – there’s the Queen Bee who immediately starts sizing up the competition, the open geeks who take Rio in on her first day and the thinly sketched but oh so hot boy of interest. A reader will know where this book is heading within a chapter but it is an entertaining journey to the evil of high school and back. Some more character development of Jas and Mason would have been lovely but there are only so many pages and too many mean stunts to be depicted. The development of the relationship between mother and daughter was nicely achieved, though the mother’s complete obliviousness annoyed me no end for a significant section of the book.
Female versus female torment in the fiery war of high school – a great read.
Format: Paperback, 226 pages
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Source of Review Copy: Public library
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