There are some books I just have to give second chances too. The Cinderella Society is one of them. I think the book has an extraordinary message, but I just couldn’t finish it the first time around. Something about it just didn’t engage me. When cleaning out my bookshelf the other week I found it sitting there collecting dust and decided to give it one more chance. So let’s see was it better the second time around….
General Summary: Jess Parker is a new girl who is incessantly tortured by her classmates, until one day she is invited to become a member of the exclusive group of girls called The Cindys. Once a Cindy, Jess finds the world opening up to her. However, being a Cindy isn’t all fun and games as it seems especially because of the Wickeds.
If there was any book I wanted to like this was it. It had a powerful message about girl empowerment and anti-bullying. However, this book just didn’t work for me.
There were many problems with this book. I guess to get down with the nitty gritty of it I’ll start talking about the plot in general and pacing. Essentially Jess is invited into this ultra secret society of powerful women, a.k.a. the Cindys. And we learn that there is an ongoing battle between them and another ultra secret society of powerful women who favor the color black too much, the Wickeds. Interesting set up, it has a lot of potential. However, there were far too many plot holes for the story.
Right now a lot of fan girls are probably telling me that the book is fiction and I should just let go of my sense of logic. Alright, let me just say that I understand that it’s fiction but in order for a fictional world to work there has to be some sort of logic to that world. Why else do you think that world building is a big issue in fantasies? In this book though there is no logic to the Cindys or anything really.
Like Jess? Though the Cindys state their reasons for choosing her of all people to join their little club. I just don’t see what they see. Jess is a weak character-I’ll go more into that in a later part of my review-and I really didn’t see anything that special about her. Plus, from what I saw at the beginning of the novel the Cindys really didn’t do anything except giving their characters makeovers and getting Tyra Banks (okay, a Tyra wannabe who now runs a coffee shop) to spy for them.
Did I mention how many supposedly famous people are in this book?
It’s ridiculous. We have a supermodel turned barista, as well as a couple of celebrity spawns, and the book takes place in small town Georgia.
Okay, it’s one thing to have maybe one famous person turning up in this small town, but more than one? It just doesn’t make sense. Neither does having an exclusive salon either. If you want all these things in your setting, then place your book in a bigger city. While I would still have qualms about all these celebrities living outside of LA or New York City, it would actually make a lot more sense if this book took place in Georgia if it took place in Atlanta or Savannah not the freaking suburbs.
Besides this plot hole, I was also sort of confused by the Cindys themselves. They are suppose to be the protectors of the normal kids, but they don’t do jack shit to help Jess when she’s normal. She is tortured endlessly and is isolated because of a Wicked at the beginning of the book. Ignored by the Cindys until she’s magically invited to their slumber party and inducted into their secret society. Okay, being a victim of bullies for most of my life, I know that one of the biggest weapons they have against a person is isolation. When you isolate someone they feel helpless. They have no one to turn to and that’s when bullies often win. So essentially ignoring a girl for the first several months she lives in town while she gets tortured is not protecting said character. It’s actually enhancing the bullying. So Cindys, my first impression of you was not very good at all.
It probably didn’t help matters that their was about sixty pages or so of the book just focused on Jess’s makeover. Look, I get that looking good helps you feel good. But I really wish that there wouldn’t have been as much as an emphasis on this aspect as there was. It bogged down the book. In fact, I often felt like I was reading a self help book about appearances rather than a YA novel. The book seemed to go nowhere and I lost interest not only once but twice.
As for the characters. Generic names were used so I often forgot who was who. Jess goes from having no friends to being essentially a member of an exclusive high school sorority full of several girls who I instantly forget about because no time is spent developing their characters so I didn’t know Gaby from Gwen or whoever. Even the love interest is sort of forgettable. All I know is he’s your typical YA love interest who doesn’t appear to notice the main character and is always attached to some blonde, but halfway through the book after she becomes “hot” he’ll notice her and he’ll say he’s always liked her. Yeah….I was not impressed. Plus, it didn’t help matters that Jess only liked Ryan because he had a jaw like Jake Gyllenhaal.
As for Jess herself. She was just sort of meh….She wasn’t offensive. I’ve read books with characters who are far more obnoxious than her. I just didn’t like her. I thought she was weak and a bit shallow. And yeah, most teenage girls are weak and somewhat shallow to an extent, but I didn’t really see any substance with Jess. I also found it hard to believe that a girl who moves around so much would always be in cheerleading. It’s not that I don’t doubt Jess’s skill as a cheerleader, I was just always under the assumption that a good portion of being a good cheerleader was knowing your community and being able to interact on a social level with your teammates. Jess who has moved around constantly and who admits to not having much social interaction with anyone does not fit my definition of cheerleading. But hey what do I know I was only a band nerd….
Best Feature: Good Message. I think this book has a great message, but honestly I often felt like this was being constantly slapped in my face. Look, this might be a pet peeve of mine but I hate it when books with messages become message books. What is a message book? A book that clearly thinks I need to learn something from it. Which is what this book does. While I do appreciate what it’s trying to preach, I just don’t like the idea of being preached to in the first place. I leaving preaching for, well, preachers.
Worst Feature: Lack of Plot. Okay, so the book does have a plot but if takes forever to get to. The first hundred pages or so are just an introduction to the Cindys and plans for the big makeover. And while I do love makeover scenes as much as the next girl, I just don’t think that there needs to be that much buildup to said scenes.
Appropriateness: It’s pretty clean. Alright, so there is some bullying in the book. Pretty moronic bullying if I’m going to be honest about it, but when is bullying smart?
Blockbuster Worthy: Maybe a Disney Chanel movie of the week? Honestly, I wouldn’t be too interested in seeing it either on the big or small screen, but I could see preteens enjoying it.
Jess: The main character’s name is Jessica Parker, so of course I thought about Sarah Jessica Parker whenever I read her name. Naturally she can’t be played by SJP because of the thirty year age difference, but I have the next best thing AnnaSophia Robb who’s playing
SJP Carrie in The Carrie Diaries on The CW this fall.
Ryan: Shia Labeouf: I know he doesn’t have Jake Gyllenhaal’s jaw, but I think Shia is pretty enough to make him one of those boys.
Lexy: Lea Michele. What do I say, she’s has sung songs from Wicked. Therefore, she’d be perfect to play a Wicked.
Overall Rating: Four out of ten slippers. Look, I think this book has a great message. I like that it talks about anti-bullying/ female empowerment, but as much as I tried I couldn’t get into this book. I even tried to give it a second chance, and still we were not meant to be.