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Book review: "The Clique" ah-nnoys me

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“THE CLIQUE”
By Lisi Harrison
First novel in "The Clique" series

  • Publication date: May 5, 2004
  • Genre: Teen Fiction, Chick Lit
  • Number of books in series: 12
    and counting (for complete titles,
    see list at the end of this review)

My only glimmer of hope is that people who read these at a young age will eventually be enticed to try reading other books and perhaps even other genres.

I LIKE TO think I read a pretty broad range of books — action, mystery, drama, comedy, whatever. One genre, however, never makes it on my reading list: chick lit.

Now, when I say chick lit, I mean the far-end-of-the-spectrum, pre-teen-oriented, ridiculously superficial manifestation of the term, not to be confused with genuinely well-written romance novels and such.

Anyway, one fateful plane ride some time ago, I found myself finishing the book I had brought with me and without anything else to read. This is how “The Clique” — the first volume in what is now a 12-novel series — came into my life. It was the only book I could get my hands on for the rest of the flight. A last resort. (Just for clarification, I believe these were the days before I had an iPod.)

So, I somewhat reluctantly cracked open this book, though, in retrospect, I’m not even sure how I made I past the cover. What I found was, as the main character Massie might put it, ah-palling.

“The Clique” series revolves around a posse of superficial rich girls (and one equally superficial but less privileged girl who pretends to be rich) who call themselves the Pretty Committee.

There’s Dylan, the supposedly funny one; Alicia, the supposedly pretty one; Kristen, the supposedly sporty one; and Massie, their not-supposedly but rather very truly malicious leader — or at least this is all I pick up from the shallow descriptions of their characters.

They’re going along, living their perfecter than perfect lives, which coincidentally revolve around clothes, boys, and making other people miserable, when along comes Claire, a supposedly nice and spunky girl from Florida who will be living with her family in Massie’s guesthouse.

Naturally, Claire is just dying to be part of the Pretty Committee, but they’re equally determined to keep her out of it by whatever means necessary. The entire book focuses on their wicked schemes to prevent Claire from ever moving past her LBR (Loser Beyond Repair; my soul died a little just typing that) status and becoming popular.

That’s it. I can’t bear to give you anymore plot information, just as I doubt you can bear to read anymore. You have the basic premise; now let’s move on.

There are several reasons I hate this book, and, surprisingly, none of them has anything to do with the fact that this storyline is so incredibly played out. In fact, this kind of story can and has been done well.

Take “Mean Girls,” for example. I actually liked that movie, but there are three crucial ways it differs from “The Clique” books: 1) it’s entertaining, 2) there’s actually a moral ending, 3) it’s quite obviously making fun of superficiality, not endorsing it.

But, let’s not get off topic. Reason No. 1 I can’t stand these books: They are so frustrating! The girls continually use obnoxious acronyms (like the aforementioned LBR) and phonetically spelled words, like “hawt,” “ah-dorable,” or “Ehmagawd,” which are not at all cute, like they seem to think, but rather simply “ah-nnoying.”

On top of that, the plot isn't captivating in the slightest. The general idea is a lot like reality TV, in my opinion, except that all the drama isn’t even remotely interesting. It’s repetitive, irritating, and unrealistic.

Reason No. 2 I can’t stand these books: There’s absolutely no lesson. Of course, not all books have to have an inherent lesson to them, but when the storyline is so outrageously wrong, you really do expect there to be some kind of moral at the end of it, just to save the cause.

By the end of the first book in the series, the situation’s all set up for Massie to learn not to be so mean and for Claire to learn fitting in isn’t the most important thing. If this were to happen, the book would still be clichéd, but my hatred for it would at the very least have been downgraded to a passionate dislike. But no. There is absolutely no lesson learned by any of the characters that I can tell.

Granted, I didn’t read the whole series; 11 more volumes have come out since the "The Clique" was published in May 2004 (two more are scheduled to be released this year), and I didn’t think my sanity could withstand that. So, there is a possibility that at the very end of the very last book, they all learn their lessons, but, failing that, Massie’s still mean, the rest of the Pretty Committee still conforms to her, and Claire still makes it her life’s goal to be someone who she’s not. How nice.

And finally, reason No. 3 I can’t stand these books: They are sexist. I’m no hardcore feminist, but even I can tell that this series, which is ironically written by a woman largely for young girls, is completely degrading. Why? Because there isn’t a single girl in this book worth looking up to.

Take Dylan, Alicia, and Kristen for starters. They go along with all the mean things Massie wants them to do, just for the sake of being in the ever-so-prestigious Pretty Committee.

Next, there’s Claire. She’s supposed to be the nice one, and yet she devotes all her time and energy to her desperate attempts at gaining Massie’s approval. Even Layne, the quirky girl who first befriends her, ditches Claire for Massie at the first chance she gets.

Then, there’s Massie. Oh, Massie. The problem with her is that she’s actually smart, independent, and strong-willed, but she is the meanest, nastiest girl in the book (there’s a concise word for that, but I don’t think I’m at liberty to use it here). It sends a message that girls shouldn’t be clever or powerful because they don’t know how to handle it and they’ll just be cruel. See? Sexist!

Now, in the interest of not being completely negative, I will offer one piece of praise for this book, and that’s that it is, in fact, a book, in the absolute most basic sense of the word. The way I see it, it’s reading for people who don’t like to read, which isn’t great, but at least it’s some sort of reading. My only glimmer of hope is that people who read these at a young age will eventually be enticed to try reading other books and perhaps even other genres (GASP).

I admit I’ve been pretty critical of “The Clique,” so try out the series for yourself and decide if I’m overreacting. Here is a link to an excerpt from the next book in the series, “These Boots Are Made for Stalking” (just know that you have to scroll down a bit on the page to get to it).

Read it, if you dare. If somehow you make it past “trampires” or “Ehmacrush!” without puking up your lunch, I salute your persistence and self-discipline. If not, which is fully understandable (I certainly didn’t), then run as fast as you can and go get some real, hardcore literature. It’ll make you feel better. Trust me.

Titles in "The Clique" Series

  • "The Clique" (May 5, 2004)
  • "Best Friends for Never" (Oct. 4, 2004)
  • "Revenge of the Wannabes" (March 2, 2005)
  • "Invasion of the Boy Snatchers" (Oct. 5, 2005)
  • "The Pretty Committee Strikes Back" (March 1, 2006)
  • "Dial L for Loser" (Aug. 23, 2006)
  • "It's Not Easy Being Mean" (March 7, 2007)
  • "Sealed with a Diss" (July 2, 2007)
  • "Bratfest at Tiffany's" (Feb. 5, 2008)
  • "P.S. I Loathe You" (Feb. 10, 2009)
  • "Boys R Us" (July 7, 2009)
  • "The Clique: Charmed and Dangerous" (Oct. 27, 2009)
  • "These Boots Are Made for Stalking" (Forthcoming: Feb. 9, 2010)
  • "My Little Phony" (Forthcoming: July 13, 2010)


Comments

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Good Review!

I as well was forced to read this book in middle school because it was "so cool". Props to you for not being afraid to tear it apart! You're calling it exactly what it is (a.k.a. a goshdarnawful, banal, superficial, and chauvinistic book); keep up the honesty!

You people are SO pathetic.

You people are SO pathetic. The Clique is awesome and you probably wish you could be the author. I bet none of you could even write a few sentences without spelling something wrong. So shut up, because you don't even know what your talking about. Also, the person who gave this review is a stupid idiot!!!

No photo provided

Love the review

Never even got close to one of these books, but just the cover seems to be in agreement with what you said! Clever and witty review :)

clique rox

Your review was horrible. you can criticize something, but can you produce anything better? dont be a hater if you can't write novels in the first place. The books have a lot of insight if you read between the lines. the clique deals with normal teenage drama, and is excellently written and deserves to be praised. shame on you.

I hope that was sarcasm.

I hope that was sarcasm. Really, have you ever even read the back of these books?

seriously?

I think its hilarious how unbelievably dimwitted you are.
These books are SATIRES. Lisi Harrison has said so herself, many times. If you had done any further research before haphazardly putting together a crap review, you would know that.
Another thing. Because this book talks about clothes, boys, and lip gloss does not make is SEXIST. I am fairly sure you do not know the meaning of the word. In fact, it is the opposite of that. It highlights the struggles teen girls today go through to conform to the "perfect" image that society wants them to be, therefore criticizing said image.
As far as Massie being a BITCH, as you thought it inappropriate to say? Yes. She is. BECAUSE SHE IS INSECURE. She struggles because she has as Tyra once called it "perfection syndrome" - she is an only child. A LONELY child. With a shallow mother who never repeats outfits and an extremely successful father who is rarely home. She is mean because she wants ATTENTION. She wants to be followed and loved. Furthermore, she is twelve years old. She's still learning. At the end of the book, she starts to warm up to Claire. She puts her in the "IN" and "OUT" list for a reason - beneath the hardshelled Massie who just wants to be popular, there is a real girl who found a friend in Claire the night of the auction, when their fathers were embarrassing them. And Claire is not trying to "be someone shes not" and follow the Pretty Committee. She lives on Massie's property. She was the first girl her age she met in Westchester and she wants to be friends with her. It is that simple. Claire's heart, as said by Ellen Marlow, the actress who portrays Claire in the Clique movie, "is so big, and so strong. I think that is one of her best qualities." Later in the series, Massie and Claire become like sisters. And Claire sticks to who she is.
Also, Kristen is more than the "sporty" one. Why would you say "supposedly"? She's the captain of the OCD Sirens for soccer. In addition, she is the SMART one. She gets straight As and works her absolute butt off to stay at OCD and get a proper education (clearly something you never had considering you don't even know how to write a decent review).
Because you have butchered these books like Massie butchered Claire's ego (HYPOCRITE!!!) let me say something about why I think you wrote this review:
Clearly you were or are a loser in school. You've always wanted to be a Massie or an Alicia, but you never achieved that dream. I'm sorry that your jealousy leads you to pray on a book series that you probably could never have the creativity or skill to write.
These books helped get me through middle school. I'm now about to be a senior in high school, and I still have an affection for them. Why? Because I kept reading. I didn't stop at number one. There is SO much more about morals in these books if you would just read the rest of them. They taught me how to LEAD, not to follow. How to be my own person, find my confidence, and realize who my real friends were.
If you can't read between the lines, don't bother writing any more reviews.

Chris Yoder's picture

In a debate, there are

In a debate, there are respectful, well thought-out ways to present an opposing viewpoint that don't include namecalling or ad hominem attacks. This is not one of those.

Anonymous, I've never read any of these books, so I don't know anything about the "morals" they present, but based on your comment, it appears there are many morals you have yet to learn.

Please level your head, think first and type second.