Trend Spotlights: Into the Land of Dystopia Part III-Modelland by Tyra Banks

The cover is ominous that should have been a warning.  Yet, I’m not one to listen so I read it anyway.

So, after giving some hopefully not too boring history into the world of dystopia.  I am going to start looking at some current YA dystopias.  And the first up is a real gem let me tell you.

Yeah, I decided to read Tyra Banks Modelland  or tried to read it since I stopped reading about half way through.  Note, I have a policy of trying to read everything I review or at least reading a good chunk of it.  But there are some books, like this one that I have to give up  for my own mental sanity.  I just had to stop.  I was already having compulsion to put down Modelland after its prologue (there’s only so much second person and dahlings a person can take).  But it finally crossed the line after this quote:

“Tookie shut her eyes, wincing again with another pain. ‘Piper, my back and tummy are killing me!’ she whispered.

 

 

Piper shrugged.  ‘Join the club, Tookie.  Every new Bella started menstruating at the exact same time this morning.’

‘Wait.  What?’

‘You’ve never heard of menstrual synchrony, or the dormitory effect’ Piper asked.  ‘ Menstrual synchrony is  a theory that suggest that the menstruation cycles of women who cohabitate–think army barracks, female penitentiaries, covents, and university dormitories–synchronize over time.  It usually takes months for the alignment to occur, but here in Modelland, it seems to have happened in twenty-four hours.’ ” (Banks  219).

Seriously?  Has Tyra been watching too much Big Bang Theory?

 

This quote might have you shaking your heads and already going what the…. and you’re probably wondering why I decided to use Modelland as the first YA dystopia that I’ll be reviewing.  After all, the book is just puerile garbage and there are so many great dystopian novels out there.   However, I feel like Tyra’s book is the perfect book to use to analyze modern dystopia literature because it clearly was produced to sell.
Background Info about Modelland/ Review
General Summary: Tookie De La Creme, I kid you not that is her name, is a forgetta girl.  Tookie lives in this society where beauty is worshiped to extremes.  And when it is every girl’s goal to be discovered and being welcomed to Modelland where one becomes an Intoxibella.  Of course, Tookie is chosen much to everyone’s surprise.  But will she survive?
Review: How do I put this lightly? This book, this book had to be the most interesting piece of shit I’ve ever read.  I know the language sounds harsh.  But that’s what this book is.  Shit.  I couldn’t make sense of anything that was going on here.  What’s the backstory behind this world?  How did Intoxibellas come and rule it?  The characters were also pretty one dimensional.  Although, Banks tries to make Tookie a Forgetta Girl, it’s obvious that she’s really a Mary Sue in disguise (FYI, I think she’s based on a teen version of Tyra.  It’s mentioned repeatedly that Tookie has a big forehead just like Tyra) and so is Ci-L (who I think is supposed to represent the adult version of Tyra).  The supporting characters aren’t much better, all of them are just caricatures more than characters.  And don’t get me started on the names of said characters either.  The main character’s name, Tookie, is bad enough .  The sad thing is, I think that Tyra actually tried  on this novel, but it just falls flat.
Best Feature: Tyra Wrote this Herself: I will give Tyra props for writing this herself and for the fact she seems really passionate her book.  But passion will only get you so far…….
Worst Feature: Tyra Wrote this Herself: The prose is grotesque.  There were parts of the book that could’ve been  condensed and yet at the same I felt like I got no sense of the twisted world that Tyra was trying to write. She could really do with some creative writing lessons.  I’m sure they have some sort of program at Harvard which she could’ve audited or what not.
Blockbuster Worthy: Hell no.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if Tyra produced a movie version of this monstrosity herself.  She already did do an over budget trailer during last season’s ANTM which was one of the most ridiculous seasons ever  with Allison losing yet again and that whole POT LEDOM trash.  .
Dystopia Analysis:
Because I am looking at this book by analyzing the dystopia trend.  I will comment how and/how not did Modelland meet my four  theories of why we love dystopian novels.
A) Teens/Anyone Else who Reads YA are Just Dissatisfied with Society: I would definitely be dissatisfied if I live in Tookie’s society.  But it seems here that the society itself is celebrated.  At times it feels like it should be a parody.  No one argues or thinks of arguing against this distorted society.  Everyone, including Tookie, is just a pod.  Plus, we have no background-at least as far as I read- in why the Modelland world is so screwed up.
B) They Make a Good Story: This book had potential to be something fairly interesting.  A society that is run by super models could actually be fairly interesting.  Especially considering that we live in such a material world.  However, this was not the case here.  Instead, the whole book seemed like another one of Tyra’s lamed themed makeover episodes on ANTM.
C) They’re Popular because They’re Being Over Marketed: This is probably the most likely case for this book.  As seen above Tyra devoted an entire episode of ANTM to her book.   She even has a song for this book too.
D) Dystopia Boys are Just Plain Hot: Not so much here.  Though Tookie has a crush on a boy named,  Thaddeus  Theophilius Lovelaces.  According to  Modelland, boys are only supposed to be accessories.  And from what I’ve seen Theophilius is little more than that.  And God, who would be in love with a guy name Theophilius.
Overall Thoughts: I think this book is what not  to do when writing a dystopia themed novel.  While many of you might argue that I should have chosen a well written dystopia to review first.  I disagree.  I think books like Banks’ provide more insight into the sub-genre than properly written books because they show us what people expect a dystopia novel to have.  Sure, Tyra’s novel fell flat off the runway, but it had the bare bone elements of a dystopian novel.  Distorted world, odd characters names, and a sense of disarray.
Overall Book Rating: Two Intoxibellas.  I feel slightly bad about this because Tyra is so enthusiastic about the genre (which is why she garnered an extra point) and hasn’t openly dissed YA lit like some authors.  But still, I have to be objective.  This book reeked.

Work Cited:

Banks, Tyra.  Moddelland.  New York: Delacorte Press, 2011.

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