Author: Elise Allen
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: August 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult
Author's Website: http://www.eliseallen.com/
Cara is moving to a new town, away from her best - and only - friend. According to Claudia, this is the year everything will change for Cara, because she now has the opportunity to work the social ladder to her benefit and climb from the rungs from Cubby Crew to Supreme Populazzi. Cara agrees to the plan and begins manipulating her new classmates, and she does climb from one rung to the next - but along the way, she encounters obstacles from her family, her "victims," and even from Claudia herself. When everything seems to be blowing up in her face, regardless of the successes and amount of boyfriends Cara managed to have over the course of the year, Cara has a choice to make that could launch her to unparalleled Supreme Populazzi status or send her plummeting to Happy Hopeless status. Through a year of lying, manipulating, fame and despair, Cara learns the true meaning of friendship.
I love love love this book! I sat down to read it and didn't stop for three and half hours straight, and was surprised to look up and find so much time had passed. The story is so gripping and compelling that I was totally swept along with it and I was completely immersed in Cara's world.
Cara is such a likable character. She's flawed - tremendously - and at times I wanted to slap her and scream at her to wake up and see what's going on, but at all times I just wanted everything to work out for her. All the characters are real, none of them are "stock characters" or stereotypes, and I think it's amazing the way I was able to tell from the moment each character is introduced whether he/she is one of the "good guys" or "bad guys." Aside from the fact that the good guys are all in the lower levels of the Popularity Tower, I genuinely liked Archer and the Happy Hopeless guys the second I "saw" them.
As for Archer - he's the character I liked most at first sight. I love the banter that Archer and Cara have right when they meet, and their conversations throughout are always entertaining. His personality is really great, and the way he stands by Cara as she goes a bit crazy in her scheme is wonderful. The romantic component kept me guessing right till the end, and it adds delicious tension to all their interactions.
The style of the writing is another great factor. It's breezy and fast-paced, and it gets slower and heavier when events do. It reflects the way a high school junior thinks and talks, which adds to the immersion effect, of being totally in Cara's world - and in her mind as well.
This is a fun read, with a great message, brilliantly portrayed!
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.