By now, most of us have seen at least portions of the wonderfully teentastic TV show Gossip Girl. The series is based on the snippy Cecily Von Viegesar series Gossip Girl books of the same name. A few of the teen librarians I know really like this series, and I watch the show every once in a while, so i decided to pick up the book and see what all the hubbub was about.
I was not disappointed. Von Ziegesar creates a fantastic and ugly view of New York from the view of the teen elite. Nothing is out of limits, and nothing is too outrageous. Booze, drugs and parties are a constant fact of life, and sex is as commonplace as a box of tissues on a coffee table.
The first book in the series starts with Serena van der Woodson returning to New York after having been kicked out of boarding school under suspicious reasons. Serena returns to a not-so-loving crowd. Outcast by her former friends, Serena tries to put the pieces of her life back together. Despite her wild-child reputation, Serena is seemingly bland in comparison to Blair Waldorf. Blair is a lot of fun, and I suspect will be the one to track as the series progresses. Blair is bitchy, bossy and knows what she wants. She’s also a hopeless romantic with big dreams and high hopes of losing her virginity to Nate and making Serena’s life miserable. Blair is the biggest obstacle in Serena’s life throughout the book, they girls share a strange love-hate relationship that is common with most best-friends. The competition over looks, wit, style, etc.
Von Ziegesar’s writing style is witty, sharp and is very much a Sex and the City for teens. In between series of chapters are Gossip Girl Blasts, posts on a fictional website summarizing the drama going on with the main cast of the book. This is our introduction to the series on the first page of the book.
Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live and go to school and play and sleep – sometimes with each other. We all live in huge apartments with our own bedrooms and bathrooms and phone lines. We have unlimited access to money and booze and whatever else we want, and our parents are rarely home, so we have tons of pricavy. We’re smart, we’ve inherited classic good looks, we wear fanstastic clothes, and we know how to party. Our shit still stinks, but you can’t smell it because the bathroom is sprayed hourly by the maid with a refreshing scent made exclusively for us by French perfumers.
The series is a fun ride. If you had as much of a boring high school experience as I did, then you’ll enjoy living vicariously through these can-do-no-wrong teens living the sweet life up in New York’s playground for the rich.Are these books appropriate for teens? That’s for parents to decide. The role models are sketchy, but then again, the smug and the sleazy are all glamorized in a cartoonish way in these novels. Von Ziegesar manages to glamorize and dehumanize the rich with her pen. You feel sad for these neglected teens while at the same time being envious of their freedoms and cash flow.
FINAL GRADE: A
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown & Company, 2002
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