Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
3.75 stars

Reasons for reading: I loved the Luxe series; YA Challenge

"The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star. . . .

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart."

First line: "It's easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer."

My thoughts: Another hit from Anna Godbersen! I wasn't quite as swept up in it as I was the Luxe, but she still knows how to write good historical fiction. Her Jazz Age details are well researched, particularly the clothing descriptions. I didn't find the characters as well-defined as the Luxe ones - they have some personality, but not as much as, for example, the deliciously villainous Penelope Hayes in the first series. I liked feisty Cordelia the best, Letty seemed a bit too precious and naive. But Astrid sums up the F. Scott Fitzgerald-ness of the period the best, with her spoiled socialite life of parties and frivolity, while fears about losing Charlie and her income lurk underneath.

I felt that you could see a lot of what was coming, loud and clear (imagine, a sleazy Broadway producer isn't actually interested in Letty's singing voice!). This was probably at least somewhat intentional, but having almost every single plot point so telegraphed took some of the fun out of the story. I would have liked a few more surprises.

There is a bit of suspense from Godbersen's usual tell-it-in-the-prologue-but-not-quite thing:
". . . one would be famous, one would be married, and one would be dead" since I'm sure the descriptions won't match the girl you'd assume they would. I'll definitely be reading the sequel, I hope there are more surprises and more character development.

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