Full disclosure: this series was recommended to me by my 11yr old niece. I’m reading it specifically to discuss with her, and I am not a regular YA reader or audience. That said, this series of three (so far) books are quick, fun, reads that are fresh in their optimism. The series is entertaining without dystopia, dripping drama, or dragging descriptions of self-loathing. For that alone, I applaud the author!
What the author accomplishes well is consistency of a pre-teen voice, capturing a juvenile’s attitude towards the world, and a YA plot with appropriate danger and character growth.
What is really disappointing about the books is a lack of story that portrays the main character, Louise, as the thing that theoretically makes her special: a knowledge–nay, passion–for fashion clothing. There’s a lot of name-dropping and a distinct lack of actual knowledge. Which, come to think of it, is quintessentially YA, isn’t it?
In particular, I was disappointed by the way the book alludes to Louise and her mother’s love for old movies. I know from my own childhood experience, if that was true, she would know the difference between a hoop skirt and panniers. If Louise was actually looking things up, as she so often says she is, in her ‘Vintage Fashion’ book, I expect she would understand a lot more about history, dressing, and culture, if not from the book, from watching old movies themselves. You CANNOT have a character, ostensibly obsessed with fashion, who has seen GWTW, not know how underpinnings such as corsetry and bum rolls work.
So the book rankles because I want the heroine to be smarter and better than she is. If that is the author’s intention, she is doing it perfectly, but as a reader (and to be very fair, NOT the target audience), I want more examples of Louise’s knowledge from her professed obsession.
I give the books a first star because I love the idea; I was a costume-obsessed youngling and I am glad there is now a series out there for people like me. The second star is because of the subtly subversive way the book introduces learning history via fashion instead of by rote–Pretty Well Done! And the third star is because if my niece can read it and love it, the book MUST be doing its job reaching the target market in tone, voice, and content (though I can’t wholly vouch for that).
Visit Yvette on Goodreads.