|03:11 pm - 5-Minute Reviews - 2 & 3|
Royally Jacked, by Niki Burnham, Simon Pulse, 01/04, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-86668-2, 229 pages
Valerie Winslow has a good life. That is, until her mother reveals that she's gay, and leaves Valerie's father for her new girlfriend. Subsequently, Valerie's father, the former protocol chief for the White House, is reassigned to the obscure European country of Schwerinborg, and Valerie goes with him. Welcome to the land of one McDonalds. The only good thing Schwerinborg has going for it? A total hottie of a prince, just about Valerie's age, named Georg. Needless to say, they hit it off... eventually. In the meantime, there's new classmates to get used to, a new country to familiarize herself with, and email with her friends back home to keep her sane. Valerie's not sure where she's going, but she's starting to enjoy the ride.
Can we maybe have a morotorium on fictional European countries? I think they're vastly outnumbering the real ones at this point. While this is a nicely-told, enjoyable book, the problem is that the plot has gotten pretty overdone by this point. I mean, how many "American girls find love with European princes" stories can -you- name? I thought so. At least it's not the "American girl discovers she's really the heir to a European throne" variant. So, while I did enjoy this book, I didn't see much new plotwise. The real strengths are in the characterization, the writing, and Burnham's ability to capture a teen voice and stay up to date with pop culture.
Spin Control, by Niki Burnham, Simon Pulse, 01/05, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-86669-0, 245 pages
Valerie Winslow's back, and things aren't going as smoothly as one might hope. She and Georg have a very under-the-radar relationship, but when the tabloids get her in their sights, all involved decide it's time to get her out of the way for a while, so off she's shipped back home to stay with her mother for the duration of vacation. That's that, her gay-and-living-with-her-girlfriend mother. Whom Valerie hasn't mentioned to her friends. Between explaining her mother's new relationship status to her best friends, and finally getting a date with her old crush, David Anderson (Valerie and George are "cooling off," see), Val's got her hands full. But will she figure out which boy she prefers in time to make the right choice?
Of course she will. It's a romantic comedy. Everyone makes the right choice, eventually. What surprised me about this book was the emphasis it placed on Val's relationship (and coming to terms) with her mother, and on lesbian/gay rights, and on lesbian/gay marriage issues in general. There's nothing on the back of this book to suggest that such a theme would play such a large part, so while it's not unwelcome, it might come as a surprise to unprepared readers. Again, though, a fun book whose strengths lie in the characterization and writing, more than the plot. I have to wonder if Burnham will find material for a 3rd, or if this is all we're getting.
Both books together make one good story... I can almost see the Hollywood types salivating at the thought of trying to get another Princess Diaries-esque movie out of them. God help us all. :>
That's it for this time around.