Monday, August 4, 2008

Book Reviews: Violet series by Melissa Walker

While Daniel was away at stick fighting camp (not joking), I had a fabulous Violet weekend, reading all three books in Melissa Walker’s series in one go. The third book in the series, Violet in Private comes out tomorrow, and Melissa's having a fun launch party over at her blog, where you can win tons of prizes.

First off, my thoughts on the first two books in the series:

Violet on the Runway introduces us to Violet Greenfield, a 6’1 high school senior in North Carolina who is not at all comfortable in her own skin and has being a wallflower down to a science. Enter Angela, a modeling agent who discovers super-skinny Violet working at the local movie theater and persuades her to give modeling a try. Will modeling finally help Violet get the self confidence she so craves?

What really struck me as I started reading was how engaging Violet’s voice is – she comes off as a normal, relatable girl who may not run with the popular crowd, but has two best friends to die for. And then she’s swept into this glamorous world of salon visits, swag, exclusive nightclubs, and gorgeous Prada boots. (Can I tell you a secret? I bought a pair of Prada boots with my first “real job” paycheck – and I love them even though they are several seasons old by now – hey vintage right?!) She does allow herself to get caught up in it – maybe a little too much even, but that’s all part of the fun and excitement of reading this book – it’s like celebrating with a friend who has a sudden success and keeping your fingers crossed that they’ll make the right choices.

At the start of Violet by Design, Violet has been seduced back into the modeling world by the lure of exotic locales – namely Brazil and then Madrid and Paris. This time, the pressure to stay stick thin is really getting to her and after airing her feelings about it on the web, she becomes the poster girl for healthy models. Will she have to betray her new ideals to stay a model?

Violet goes through a rough patch in this second book and a lot of her actions really frustrated me and made me want to shake some sense into her. Spending $2000 of her own money to escape a boyfriend who cheats on her when she could have contacted the airline about flying stand-by (this exact thing happened to me and such an impulsive action would have never crossed my mind) or ditching her lifelong friend Roger in Europe when she could have invited him along, no problem. And then just quitting jobs because she’s “bored” – what kind of work ethic is that?! But hey, I wouldn’t get so worked up about it if I didn’t care, right?

In this book, as in the first, there are a lot of wry observations that made me laugh, like this one, about travelling in business class with her not very kind agent: “Then I put on my eye mask and recline my seat a bit, but not as much as Angela’s, because if we were at the same angle it might feel like we’re in bed together. And that is not something I want to experience.”

And now for VIP:

Violet in Private is all about Violet trying not to be model Violet, but Vassar Violet. She has to deal with some fallout from the healthy model campaign as well as her own conflicted feelings about the fashion world. Can she figure out what she really wants for herself – is it modeling? School? True love? Can she have it all?

This third book explores some of the hard choices we all have to make, not only in life, but in love. A big part of the narrative deals with her relationship with BFF Roger who has secretly loved her forever. Now she has feelings for him, but he’s with someone else - think angst level “Rachel and Ross” from the TV series Friends.

Although she seems to have matured in a lot of respects and she’s starting to get over her body issues, she can still be pretty frustrating. Once a professional wallflower, she’s now a professional avoider. She avoids calls from her agent, she avoids promoting her big campaign with fellow model and now good friend Veronica, and she avoids Roger repeatedly, including one of the most over-the-top avoidance scenes I’ve read in a while. She may think new fabulously gay college pal Kurt (a hilarious character) is the drama queen, but Violet sure knows how to bring it too. It’s a pretty accurate picture of those tumultuous college years when you are searching for your identity away from your parents and what defined you growing up.

This may be the last Violet book, but if it’s not, I’d certainly jump at the chance to spend more time with her.

PS – I love Melissa’s author photo on the inside back cover, taken by someone with the awesome name of Quito. You look totally runway ready Melissa!


Darlene said...

Great reviews of all three books! I had read a review of book one of this series and had thought it sounded like something I wanted to read and now after your review I'm sure I want to read all of them. Thanks.

Chick Lit Teens said...

Fantastic review, you have me wanting to read the books. Thanks for the recomendation.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this looks really good. Great reviews! I am definitely going to check them out of my library. I am writing down the names right now!

OK. I am back now. Please enter me in the contest for Native Tongue! Thanks.

Liviania said...

Great reviews - I absolutely agree with you about Violet's work ethic. It really disturbed me in other reviews that no one was calling her out on it.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Awesome reviews. I like that you read/reviewed the whole series's a different way of hearing about the books. And that is cool you are talking about the annoying things Violet did (I haven't read the books yet...but it's always good to know!) I mean, the main character isn't perfect, people can mention it! :)


Kate said...

You are completely right...throughout the series there were definitely points when you just wanted to throw the book at the wall because of your frustration with Violet...but...that is the charm of the book. Violet is portrayed as a human being...and human beings are frustrating. I think this just shows us how well of a writer Melissa is...and I hope we continue to see it in her 2009 release, LOVESTRUCK SUMMER.

<3 Kate

Bunny B said...

Awesome reviews!! I really, really wanna read this whole series! :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the summaries and reviews! I'm so excited about reading the series!

di said...

i love this series review
~bella aire~

Kristen said...

I agree about the picture, it's awesome.
Thanks for putting the 3 reviews together, I haven't had a chance to read the first 2 books yet, but now I have a better idea of how they each are so different, but they work to compile a fuller picture of who Violet is.

Alea said...

I just 10 minutes ago finished VIP. Each book was better than the last! I really hope Melissa gets the chance to write a fourth book in this series.

Anonymous said...

These books will probably be put on my re-read list. I only re-read books that are amazing.

Breanna said...

What a great idea to review all three at once Lenore! I loved this. And I agree with you on Melissa's photo on the back of the books. Totally runway ready =)