Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gossip Girl

von Ziegesar, Cecily. 2002. Gossip Girl. 199 pages.

What can I say about this one? I was expecting more. More story? More plot? Actual characterization? More something. A something that would keep me, you know, actually tuned into the book and turning pages. And dare I say it? I was expecting more shock. I've heard for years and years how 'shocking' these books are. And it is usually Gossip Girl (and similar series) that are held up as everything that is wrong in the young adult market. So I was expecting more of everything: more obscenity, more drugs, more drinking, more sex, more talk of sex. I don't know. Maybe later books in the series take it there and back again. Don't get me wrong, if you want to take offense, you can take offense. The obnoxiousness of these spoiled brats with no parental supervision who are allowed to do drugs, drink alcohol, have sex, party all hours of the day and night, skip school, and buy anything and everything they could ever want or need is offensive. Offensive for the sense of entitlement and pure obnoxiousness of it more than anything else.

More than anything else I noticed the mediocrity of everything: the characterization, the dialogue, the plot. It read like a novelization of a TV show. Except sadly, the TV show came after the fact. I haven't seen the TV show, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had far more depth and substance and life to it. It must be more entertaining to watch than to read. It just has to be. Granted, this is the first in the series. And as such it was practically plotless in my opinion. Surely, something must happen in each and every book. Right?

What did happen? We met Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. Nate Archibald and Chuck Bass. They partied. More than once. It is revealed to the readers (several chapters before Blair) that Nate had had sex with Serena several years earlier. Blair, Nate's current girlfriend, freaks out. The end. Okay, not really the end. I guess other stuff technically happens. (Like Chuck making out with a handful of different girls including Serena.) And we meet a few poor people. Okay maybe they're not "poor" poor, but they're not ever-obnoxious and dripping wealth.

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Anonymous,  12:29 PM  

I literally just finished my review of this one, Becky. So I guess you and I were reading the book at the same time. And I had the same thoughts as you.

Jennie 12:39 PM  

The plot is more the overrall arc of things rather than one-story-per-book.

And I thought the lack of substance was kind of the point--it's not that there isn't characterization--there's just not much THERE there. The kids drink and party and shop all day, but they're shallow, sad, pathetic people.

Granted, they grow over the series. A little.

I also think a lot of the freak-out comes from the same people who think that every character in a book is a roll model for children. They miss the fact that you're not supposed to like the characters. They're not good people.

Becky 12:53 PM  

Thanks for weighing in, Jennie :) I am curious in the story. If I could get it in abbreviated form with some of the melodrama toned down :)

I think the shallowness is the point. And I got that for the most part.

I can see the freak out in a very far removed way. (Not that I share in it. It's a bit too chicken little for me.) It was way tamer than I thought it would be. I was expecting the scandals to be oh-so-shocking and less boring than they really were.

Paige Y. 1:16 PM  

I feel like (as a middle school librarian who likes to think she's read a lot of young adult fiction) I should read these books. But then there's the pile of books on my to-read shelves that are actually considered to be good fiction and the fact that I have absolutely desire to subject myself to bad series fiction . . .

We did have an 8th grade teacher review this book a couple of years ago for our teacher book club. She said almost the same things you said. There's just so much better fiction out there.

Anonymous,  4:05 PM  

I agree that these books are terrible. When I found out the show was coming on, I got curious and read three of them. Some of the worst fiction I've ever read.

That said, I do enjoy the show. I'll allow trash on my television, but not on my bookshelf! But, after the first episode, the show doesn't even follow the books. The producers do their own thing.

jehara 6:05 PM  

i read the first book last year and found it okay. i didn't feel compelled to continue reading it. but then i caught a couple of episodes of the show on tv and really enjoyed it. so i picked up the series again. there are elements of the book in the show, some basic plotlines but they twist things around. i like the show better because the characters are more likable and have more depth. i have continued reading the series, though. as it goes on more stuff happens. and i think it's the later books that perhaps has all the detractors up in arms. the storylines get more preposterous and ridiculous but i can't help myself. i guess it's like watching a train wreck show. i come back because i am curious to know what happens. no these aren't the best books in the world. not even close. but they are entertaining.

Rhinoa 5:58 AM  

I watched my very first episode of this at the weekend and wasn't really that taken with it either to be honest. Like you say though it think with the show and the books you probably have to give it a little time and get into it. Question is though can you really be bothered?!

Josette 8:32 AM  

I read one of the books and didn't like it. I love watching the show though - beautiful people and beautiful clothes!

Jess 8:02 AM  

I actually didn't mind this first one, but the following books in the series are just more of the same.

Icha 11:56 AM  

I Love Gossip Girl!!
I watch it at

NovelTeas 10:12 AM  

Writer Cecily von Ziegesar will be visiting NovelTeas of Shrewsbury, NJ on November 21st to discuss Gossip Girls! Follow us on twitter (Novelteas) or Facebook to find out more detailed information in the coming weeks!

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