Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle
Three YA authors come together to write three intersecting novellas about a snowed-in Christmas.
Jubilee's dreams of a perfect Christmas anniversary with her perfect boyfriend is shattered when her parents get arrested in a riot for Flobie Christmas Village pieces, and she's carted off to her grandparents in Florida--only her train get stuck in the snow, and she is stranded in Graceville. But what starts as a snowy disaster may turn into her best Christmas ever. (The Jubilee Express, Maureen Johnson)
All Tobin wants is to spend Christmas Eve watching James Bond movies with her best friends JP and The Duke. But a snowed-in train and a frantic phone call from the fourth member of their little group send Tobin and his buddies out on a quest for every dude's fondest wish--a Waffle House full of stranded cheerleaders. But the quest for cheerleader heaven will lead Tobin to something he never expected--love with an old friend. (A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, John Green)
Addie has a tendancy to be overdramatic, but this time, she thinks she's being exactly dramatic enough. It's Christmas Eve, and Jeb didn't show. She feels awful for having cheated on him, but she wrote him a email asking for his forgiveness, and he didn't respond at all. She is heartbroken, and sure that Christmas is ruined. But two best friends, a teacup pig, and a Starbucks full of snow-braving customers may go a long way in helping Addie realize that sometimes it's not all about her--and that sometimes it is. (The Patron Saint of Pigs, Lauren Myracle)
The great thing about this book is the way all the stories intersect--the way bits and pieces of them all overlap into each other. It makes them feel homey and friendly, like this is a little town that you've been to--the sort of place where everyone knows everybody, with its fair share of harmless kooks (Tinfoil Guy!)
Maureen Johnson's novella, The Jubilee Express, is fairly unexceptional by way of content, but in typical Maureen Johnson style it's packed full of humor and personality and Maureen Johnson-y goodness, and it's a pleasure to read.
John Green's novella, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, is far more original and creative, and probably the most fun of the three. Tobin and JP and The Duke are certainly the most memorable of all the characters in the book, and thier quest and travails on the way to the Waffle House and cheerleader heaven are hilarious.
Lauren Myracle's Patron Saint of Pigs is...okay. It's not terrible. It's fine. Unfortunately, placed as it is after Maureen Johnson and John Green's stories, it's just not as strong. One thing that irritated the hell out of me, and I guess this isn't technically the fault of the story, is that one of Addie's best friends is Jewish, and Lauren Myracle plays her as the stereotypical Jew from hell. I mean, it's one thing to embrace your Jewish heritage and claim to be in love with bagels and lox, but it's another thing altogether to spout Yiddishisms and "Oy!"s all over the place, and make it seem like the only gifts she's interested in recieving are Jewish-themed gifts. It pulled me out of the story--every time Dorrie said, well, anything, it irritated me. Addie was also a much more annoying character than any of the others--which is kind of the point, I guess, but I still just didn't care about her as much as I had cared about Jubilee and Tobin and The Duke.
It's a fun, flufftastically awesome collection overall, and the weaker story is strengthened by the stronger stories. It's a quick read and I really enjoyed devouring it at breakneck speed.
----------------------------------The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies by Lizabeth Zindel
Maggie has just started the ritzy Berkeley Prep as a senior, and she's hoping to make a few friends and avoid social ignominy. But she never expects to be welcomed into the most exclusive clique at Berkeley--and she never imagined that the clique is actually a secret society called the Revelers.
The Revelers have a mission: to document what life is like for today's teenagers so future generations can learn from the past. To that end, once a week, each Reveler must bring three Truths...more Maggie has just started the ritzy Berkeley Prep as a senior, and she's hoping to make a few friends and avoid social ignominy. But she never expects to be welcomed into the most exclusive clique at Berkeley--and she never imagined that the clique is actually a secret society called the Revelers.
The Revelers have a mission: to document what life is like for today's teenagers so future generations can learn from the past. To that end, once a week, each Reveler must bring three Truths about a member of their class or the staff of their school, and write it on the Wall, a secret monument to their high school experience.
At first, the Wall seems like a fascinating social project. But as Maggie begins to bring Truths to the Wall, she begins to suspect that the Revelers have an ulterior motive in their quest for truth. How far is she willing to go to stay friends with the in crowd? And can she get out, even if she wants to?
The best thing I can say about this book is that it's better than Gossip Girl. There's a lot of brand-name dropping, but it's got more heart and personality than Gossip Girl--not that it's difficult. But the Upper East Side prep school setting, plus the clique of wealthy popular girls definitely bring Gossip Girl to mind.
The trouble with this book is that it's just very formulaic. It strives to be original and shocking and interesting--even places hints throughout the story that imply that something vastly more interesting is going to come together or be revealed--and then falls flat.
The big shocking events of the ending, quite simply, aren't shocking. It's fairly easy to predict the outcome, knowing what you do about the players and the way the first page hints at disaster. I spent the book hoping Zindel was going to surprise me with a slightly less predictable end, but she didn't.
Maggie is a sometimes engaging, mostly Mary-Sue-esque protagonist, who really doesn't seem to retain her personality--the brash, confident girl of the earlier pages melts into someone clingy and desperate for popularity, but it's not a realistic character arc. She just exists to tell Zindel's story, but she's not believable as a character herself.
I spent the whole book waiting for the book to impress me, and it never did