Fabulous by Simone Bryant 2010
IQ "She wasn't ready for the foolishness of boys who grew up to be even more foolish men." Marisol pg. 242
In Fabulous we are introduced to the Pace-setters; Starr, Dionne and Marisol. All three girls are rich, beautiful and all around fabulous. They run their school, the exclusive Pace Academy. Starr is the daughter of a former singer, and a former-singer-now head of a record company. She's planning a Fierce and Fabulous Fashionista Fifteen party that is going to be BIG. Dionne is half-rich, half-comfortable. Her father is a rap star and wealthy, while her mother lives in a more run-down neighborhood and has to work (I can't remember what she does). Her parents were only together for three months before Dionne was born. Dionne is still not completely comfortable with her new-found wealth and popular status, and she worries that her father isn't handling his money wisely. Marisol is the daughter of a baseball star pitcher, who seems to be swept away by fame, forgetting about his family. Between family drama, friends and enemies, freshman year at Pace Academy is going to have plenty of drama.
Most over used word in Fabulous? Drawled. A close tie would be fabulous. However, I could understand why the word fabulous was used quite often, it described the girls and their lifestyle, and while I would have appreciated synonyms for the word fabulous, it didn't bother me too much. Not as much as the word drawled. that's all these girls did when they talked; "Starr drawled", "Dionne drawled", etc. To me, drawling is a Southern thing. Or a sound a person makes sometimes, but not ALL THE TIME. I feel bad, because it's one word, but it was driving me crazy. Another issue I had with Fabulous was the typos. Typos cause confusion, but the text may not have been a mistake, just unclear. For example, Marisol's mother either calls her husband (Marisol's father), Alejandro, Alexandro (pg. 32) or Alex. Alex and Alejandro I understand; Alejandro means Alexander in English. But any Spanish-speaking person will tell you, the name Alexandro does not exist. I'm not sure if that was a typo or what, but Marisol's father had two different names and that irked me a bit. Also, the girls would be having conversations between two of them and then suddenly address the third girl who appeared out of nowhere. Finally, I felt these girls acted too childish and that the novel lacked an air of authenticity. They were fifteen (well, Starr was almost fifteen) and freshmen in high school. And yet, they acted like little kids sometimes between all the pouting, the name calling and arguments. They didn't handle themselves with maturity, though I suppose this could be due to their being spoiled. This novel also didn't seem very realistic in its treatment of high school. I can't speak on the authenticity of a private school where only rich kids attend, but I do think that the issue of seniority is the same, regardless of school setting. I found it absolutely unbelievable that freshmen Starr, Marisol and Dionne could order a JUNIOR around. Especially since all the kids at Pace Academy were rich, they were all in the same boat (wealth-wise), so the scene were a junior bows to the demand of 'lowly' freshmen (I say this as a fact, meaning no offense to freshman since I was just one), was just ridiculous. Also the way text messages were shown was odd. It would show the messages of DivaDIDI, UR #1STARR and MARIMARI. That seems more like the format of IMs. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but my friends and I only use our nicknames when sending text messages, the names used in Fabulous seemed more like names that would be used as screenames. I'm not sure if this was intentional, or if the author mixed up the technology usage. Another problem I had with the technology was how much of it the girls had. But maybe it's because they were rich. Starr has a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, AIM and email account. Most teenagers I know have a MySpace or Facebook (most of us get rid of our MySpace account once we get a Facebook, but not all), and email account. We no longer use AIM (due to Facebook chat) and none of my friends have Twitter accounts or Ning accounts (to my knowledge). Again, this is an instance where I could be in the minority here. If any teens think otherwise, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
I did like some things about Fabulous. I didn't have a favorite character, but the character I could best tolerate was Dionne. She was still getting used to her wealth and popularity and she acted the most mature compared to the other Pacesetters (not that that's saying much). I also liked how the author showed how easy it can be to get swept away by fame and become obsessed with money and popularity. She also showed how easy it is to mismanage money and the consequences that arise. The character of Marisol has major potential, I was hopeful she would show some growth, but in the end, she reverted back to her old ways. However, I do think she is the character most likely to grow and the IQ I picked, showed a rare moment of maturity on her part. I think it does take a mature teen to recognize that she may not be ready to date just yet.
Fabulous is a fast read, that may satisfy those who enjoy chick lit and reading about the privileged few. The characters don't grow and fall flat as stereotypes. They all like the same music, same clothes, same guys, etc. I wanted to see one of the girls break from the mold and be different. Fabulous is going to be a seven book series. I'm not sure if I'll be able to stick around to read all seven, especially since the book didn't end on a particularly suspenseful note and I could care less about what happens to the characters. I will at least read the second one, since I appreciate the author presenting diversity in literature about POC (i.e. instead of reading about racism, or poverty, she offers readers a glimpse into the lives of well-to-do POC).My hope is that the next book in the series will have more originality, authenticity, interesting drama and development of characters.