I have no words for my deep distaste for this book. Usually, I try to be positive in these reviews. But this book there was little to no redeeming qualities about it. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. And it’s not just because of this article that the authors wrote about YA lit that caused my opinion about the novel to become sour. I actually bought the book in good faith. It had an interesting premises, Southern debutantes meets paranormal, but boy did it fall flat on its ass.
Basic Summary: Alexandra Lee is forced to move to Savannah, Georgia from her hippie dippy commune after her mother dies in a freak bus accident. She complains about this immensely because she doesn’t like her grandmother, believes no one in Savannah is “real”, and she misses the love of her life and the commune (cough, pot farm, cough) tremendously. Things get even worse when Grandma tells Alex that’s she’s going to have to be a debutante. But these debutantes, they’re not your typical white gown wearing spoiled little rich girls, they’re involved in hoodoo. And pretty soon Alex is getting everything she wants emaciated body and lame boyfriend included.
Review: Okay, I know that even my summary sounds harsh, but I can’t help it. I can’t help but be angry when I think of The Magnolia League. I think it’s in part because there was so much potential yet this potential was never realized. Instead, the authors wrote the book in the worst way possible. I’ll start with the first and most obvious problem with the story: the main character. Alex is just not at all likable. First of all, she complains for the first half of the book about her new life in Savannah. I get it, honey, you miss your life as a damn hippie with your pot head boyfriend on that commune you grew up with. It doesn’t matter that your grandma has bought you a designer wardrobe, offered you a car, and practically bought you friendship with the two most popular girls in town. They’re not good enough for you because they’re not “real”. If this isn’t bad enough, the authors try to show that Alex is not accepted by her peer group by showing some less than real conversations where poor Alex gets made fun of because she’s supposedly fat and wears her hair in dreads. Let’s just say this doesn’t work, these conversations don’t make me feel sorry for Alex especially with the way she reacts to them which is sort of bratty and immature. However, as much as I didn’t like Alex during the first half of the book she was even worst post her instant makeover–which include instant pretty hair and size zero Barbie body. At least, the second half of the book went faster than the first. Though that didn’t mean the book was any better since it was terribly rushed. Seriously, it was just as if the authors slapped the last hundred or so pages together.
Best Feature: Interesting plot. For what it’s worth, The Magnolia League, had a very interesting premises though it ended up falling flat on it’s face which is really sad.
Worst Feature: Unrealistic characters. Sure, we might occasionally have a main character who’s a vampire, or who has psychic powers, or is an undiscovered princess of a small European principality–all such things that do not occur in regular life– but despite this these characters seem like real people. Alex, her friend and family, they just seem like caricatures at best. I honestly wonder if this book was intended to be a parody of sorts. It would explain so much.
Blockbuster Worthy: With major revisions by a screen writer-maybe. This is one of those book where I’m 100% sure a movie would be better than a book especially if the movie deviated heavily from the book. I’m sure a smart, sassy, and savvy screenwriter could fix up the Magnolia League in no time. Well, hopefully it would be a pretty tough job. Here’s my cast:
Alex: Demi Lovato. I’ve never seen any of her work, due to my disdain of the Disney Channel, but I sort of pictured Alex looking like Demi before her hooddoo induced makeover.
Reggie: For some reason I picture Andy Samberg. I don’t know why. Okay, maybe I do.
Ms. Lee: Courteney Cox. Yes, I know I want Courteney Cox to play a grandma. There’s no way that Monica could play grandma. But when Grandma is supposed to look thirty-eight, then I say Courtney could very well do the role. At least, that’s who I picture her looking like.
Thaddeus: Chord Overstreet. His character on Glee pretty much sums up Thaddeus blonde, bland, and pretty on the eyes.
Overall Rating: Two out of ten magnolias.