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? GoodreadsReview - 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