Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Review - The Ivy / Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur


Freshman year at Harvard--glamorous parties, blossoming friendships, steamy romances, and scandalous secrets. Skip the campus tour and get right to the good stuff: classes are for scoping guys (and their Facebook profiles), not taking notes. The library is for study dates (the medieval history stacks get a lot of action), not studying. And success is a 4.0 GPA... plus getting into the most exclusive parties. How will Callie--a California girl with brains, beauty, and big dreams--and her three roommates survive?  Goodreads

Review - It had me for a while.  Enough to make me feel like an idiot for being engaged for that short time.  Then I realised that this book was a series of shallow vignettes about getting drunk, laid and more and I couldn't find the joy any more.  This is definitely the kind of read that would energise a reader with no expectation other than a cliched protagonist surrounded by stereotypical supporting players that act in stupendously stupid ways.  I don't know what offended me more - the depiction of a religious teen as a somewhat zealot or a vastly intelligent, motivated girl performing a succession of brainless acts.  Actually Harvard should be more offended than I am.

There is a superficial sense of fun and frivolity that surrounds Kunze's storytelling but it is just that - superficial.  Having lived in similar housing during my college years I can tell you there is a grain of truth but to limit her characters to cardboard caricatures doesn't a writer make.  Nor does Kunze's tendency to change character perspective mid passage! It felt as though she took a handful of parties as the narrative line of her story and strung them together with paper thin (if at all) development.  In essence it is a tabloid story - lots of gossip and pleasure in people's naivete and/or stupidity surrounded by some glamour.  There was no examination or grounding to the characters as they sway from party to party with loose connections, little loyalty and shallow behaviour.  Actually that's not fair, at one point the character direct their attention to maijuana instead of alcohol to amusing but (again) cliched results.  The only plus I can take from the over emphasis on partying is the unique means in which Kunze chose to depict her protagonist's perspective.

Reader's won't care about Callie all that much as she clearly doesn't care all that much for herself or her own integrity.  Watching this girl continually and unflinchingly act in a callously oblivious manner speaks to the holes in the author's directive that the character is intelligent.  She makes blunders that can be seen in any standard sitcom on any network. The love interest compels only because he's Chuck-lite (Gossip Girl) and his reformation is heavy handed to say the least.  This is the first in a series of novels which is interesting as this title had nothing to say in the first place, to continue the journey seems like an exercise in frustration.  As for Onur's inclusion in the authoring credits (she co-conceptualised the plot) I am left even more confused as there isn't much of a plot to speak of other than girls batting at each other with rage issues, boys falling over themselves for Callie and parties that required themes.  The Ivy is bereft of soul....so it will probably become a huge earner.

Perfect for the reader with minimal expectations.

Published: August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: purchased
Origin: USA

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

lmfao I love this review!! this book looks like it was going to suck anyways. the cover is boring, no promo from the authors, new authors never heard of them, synopsis boring. it's a big flop. seeing your review makes me want to read it though. perhaps they should put a blurb from you saying how bad it is to at least gain 5 sales. (i mean really, who is gonna read this)

the ivy is poison... poison ivy. it should be avoided at all costs and will cause you to itch (for better books)

emilyandherlittlepinknotes.com said...

I can always rely on you for a honest review, love them when they are snarky.

Splendibird said...

I have to admit, I had my doubts about this one but was going to pick it up anyway just to see how it went. After your review, I don't think I'll bother. Thanks for being so honest and for backing your honesty with good solid reasoning!

Abby said...

Picked it up... and pretty quickly put it down. Glad I didn't waste my precious reading time on this one!

Alexander Bennett (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover) said...

I really wanna check this one out just to see what I think of it.

Kelli (I'd So Rather Be Reading) said...

Love this honest, justified review! I'll steer clear of this one.

Carla said...

I think it's safe to say I won't be reading this book. God, even the cover makes me feel icky.

Carla said...

I think it's safe to say I won't be reading this book. God, even the cover makes me feel icky.

Sarah said...

I read the first few chapters of the book on the harper website and I must say I was intrigued. I see your point with this review, but nevertheless I think this will be a quick and entertaining read.
i didn't have high expectations of gossip girl, clique or pll series, but I ended up getting hooked anyways. something tells me, this series might have a similar effect.

Sarah said...

I will totally admit, I enjoyed this book immensely. My expectations were next to nothing but sometimes I don't need much to entertain me in the same vein that I watch Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. It's entertaining garbage for me but nothing I take seriously. But I like your review and I do agree with the points, even as I enjoyed the book.

Pam said...

You know Adele I loved it FOR what it was. Fun.brain.candy. No thought needed. Sometimes you just need a fix of sheer nothingness.

Linna (21 ♡ pages) said...

So glad I found this review. I recently finished this one, and I honestly though I might've been the only one who didn't find the plotless, drunken, adventures of some very cliched characters all that enjoyable. Though I did like it for the first quarter of the book, it all went down hill from there...

Liz B said...

I had high hopes for this one. As a teen, I desperately wanted books set in college. In all honesty, the teen me would have read this book and liked it... but in a popcorn/voyeuristic way.

Adult me marked this as a "did not finish." I kept thinking, "really, she got into an Ivy League school and is this stupid and unprepared?" I realized that if I finished it, I would include that observation in my review, and then people would comment that "yes, people in Ivy League schools are that stupid and unprepared" and that would be depress me.

So DNF, did not review. That said, the teen me? Would have viewed it as a popcorn read and enjoyed it as a relief from school work.