Thursday, October 2, 2008

Book Review: Fabulous Terrible by Sophie Talbot

You’re a foster kid who somehow manages to get a full ride plus expenses to Trumbell Woodhouse, the most exclusive boarding school in the nation. You hope you’ll fit in despite your secret: you get visions of the past, present and future that you can’t control. But even weirder, once you get to the school, you begin to suspect that the campus holds a secret as strange as yours and that someone’s out to get you…

That’s right, YOU are the main character of this story which is written entirely in second person. It’s a conceit that actually worked well for me – reading this book made me feel like I actually was attending this glamorous school. I picked up my brand new laptop, visited my mysterious advisor, did a difficult Greek translation and made some nice new friends.

I was really impressed with the writing. The dialogue and inner monologues were snappy and hip without resorting to the kind of pop culture name dropping that ages a book all too quickly. The supporting characters were painted with just enough brush strokes to make them distinguishable and memorable. Case in point: Emily, your friend from back home. When you’re applying to schools and start getting rejections, she suggests she burn them to make you feel better, even though she’s not allowed:

“Emily got in trouble for starting fires at recess. She was burning up her exams marked lower than a B-. Ever since, she has had to fight a pyromaniac rap.
She led you to the backyard and lit the letter and envelope with a match. She did seem to get a gleam in her eye while the paper burned. Actually, over the next week, she got that gleam five more times when she burned five more rejections.”


Many mysteries are brought up during the course of the novel but only one is really solved by the end. I guess this means I’ll have to read the sequel (which comes out Jan 25, 2009). It will be my pleasure.

NOTE: I just happened to pick up a copy of Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty today (which I haven’t read yet – I know, a travesty, right?) and just by reading the jacket copy, I see some major parallels between its story and Fabulous Terrible (including the title!). Both have characters that have visions going off to boarding school and running up against secret societies. But I’m going to look at it as homage rather than rip-off. What do you all think?

15 comments:

Alea said...

This cover is interesting... er. I haven't read Libba Bray's series yet but that's in interesting point. Will be interested to see what others say about this.

Steph said...

Love this review, L! I've been dying to read a book in second person. Given this has gotten a rec from you, who knows...!

AND YOU MUST READ LIBBA BRAY NOWNOWNOW.

Steph

Lenore said...

I know Alea - I was going to say: Fabulous book, terrible cover! The cover has nothing to do with anything in the story. Unless maybe you have braces and wear funky lipstick? Ha!

Steph - it's going to be part of that reading marathon I was telling you about, I swear!

Alea said...

Lenore- LOL! Yeah it really seems to totally be the opposite of the book... that's a cover story I'd like to hear!

Lenore said...

Oh yeah Alea, we need to ask Melissa Walker to get to help us get to the bottom of this!!

Alea said...

*looks around* Melissa, points to this, see this one, we want to KNOW about this one! LOL! Man I love the Cover Stories feature, best thing ever!!!!!!

Dar said...

Well it sounded interesting to me and then you mentioned that it was kind of like A Great and Terrible Beauty and that hooked me. I loved that series so I'm off to look into this one some more. Great review.

Holly said...

This one sounds really interesting, especially being written in second person. I will have to add this to the TBR list. Thanks for the review! I look forward to hearing what you think about The Power of Three. :-)

Jeane said...

I don't know if I could read a book written entirely in second person. I think it would remind me to much of those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a kid.

Lenore said...

Dar - Can't wait to start reading the Gemma Doyle books :)

Holly - Well, it's a library book so it will be sooner rather than later (esp. since I've renewed it the max. number of times).

Jeane - Funny you should mention that. The publisher is Chooseco who puts out those choose your own adventure books. I personally loved them as a kid.

S. Krishna said...

This book sounds cute!

I actually really didn't like Libba Bray's series. The premise was great, and the first book was good. But I hated the main character and her friends, they were way too flighty and stupid.

Jeane said...

Well, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventures back then, too. But I just think it would remind me so much of them it would change the tone of the book for me (and make it feel juvenile?)

Alea said...

Jeane- There's actually an Adult Choose Your Own Adventure I really like. It's called Pretty Little Mistakes! I'd suggest it :D

Lenore said...

Jeane - the tone of this one is definitely more mature than the ones we read as kids.

Alea - I've heard of that one! I think Keri M. had a contest for it a while back. It sounds very cool.

Heather said...

Libba Bray's book a Great and Terrible Beauty is a fantastic one. I have read two of her books, and they are great. I can't wait to read Fabulous Terrible. I just put it on hold at my library