Katie Ellison is not a liar.
But she can’t exactly tell the truth, either–not when she’s juggling two boyfriends, secretly hating the high school football team everyone else worships, and trying to have the best summer ever. At least Katie has it all under control (sort of). Her biggest secret, what really happened the nightTommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the junior high gymnasium wall, is safe.
That is, until Tommy comes back to town. Katie is sure he’s going to ruin all her plans, and she’ll do anything to hang on to her perfect existence. Even if it means telling more lies. Even if, now that Tommy’s around, she’s actually–truthfully–having the time of her life.
Long before my book blogging days I was a Meg Cabot junky. I had to get every book of hers on release date, and this was before Prime existed so I actually had to drive to the bookstore and pick up said book.
Pants on Fire was one of these books.
In retrospect, it was nowhere near the hype I had for it. But at the time I was excited about it. It included a heroine who actually has a complicated love life AND wasn’t perfect.
Sort of hard to find in YA at the time, but since Pants on Fire has been published heroines in YA have grown more complicated and make Katie…well, insufferable.
Like I said, I wanted to like Katie. She’s not perfect. But I couldn’t. I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that she seems a bit unrealistic and a bit of a Mary Sue.
I know, I’m saying something seemingly blasphemous-a Mary Sue main character in a Meg Cabot book, but Katie sort of fits the test with everyone being in love with her, her being unnaturally good at taking photos, Valedictorian, having all the boys love her, being one of the most popular girls in school, and being a shoe in as a finalist in a beauty contest.
Yeah, gag me.
To be fair, the whole beauty competition was an interesting twist when I first read the book. But upon, reflection I felt like there were these major “moral lessond of the weeks” that were hammered into my head.
I’m not a fan of moral lessons.
They annoy me.
BUT during the time period the book was written in, they were more common in YA than today. Especially in Cabot’s contemporaries.
The major moral lessons in these books was what annoyed me the most about all of Cabot’s contemporaries in the period. The messages are often eye roll worthy and corny, even though I know that’s probably not Cabot’s intentions.
It’s not that the books are especially bad, they are very readable, but there’s just a preachy undertone to them that makes you want to pull out your hair. Especially when that little life lesson the book’s trying to reach you, is the focal point of the book.
Which if you’re wondering is: Lying is bad.
Lies and omitting the truth are featured heavily in Pants on Fire (even in the title to some regard) of course because of this, consequences! happen.
To be honest, the consequences are sort of lame and don’t take up a lot of page count and our deeply flawed main character still gets a Cabot signature happily ever after.
Katie doesn’t deserve a happily ever after. Especially a Cabot one.
She is fucked up and needs to deal with her shit, rather than getting in a new relationship. And yes, I did like the guy she ended up with, BUT girl wasn’t ready for a realtionship yet.
There are things about this book that should make it stand out. But it doesn’t. The beauty pagent falls flat. Even flatter than Dumplin, whose beauty pagent scenes hardly impressed me. Katie’s big dilemma sort of sadly deflated. It was like anything with any oomph, died quickly with this book.
Look, I know it seems like I’m harping on this book a lot, and perhaps I am. It has a lot of things to offer and at the end of the day it sadly just flops around. That being said, it’s probably the best out of the three Cabot contemporary YA standalones (Teen Idol, How to Popular, and Pants on Fire). I liked a lot of the ideas that were in this book, but it just really didn’t work for me.
Overall Rating: A C+