SSG review (spoiler-free)

(I never know how to title reviews.)

You know those little praise blurb thingies that all books seem to have (eventhough you´ve never heard of the people doing the praising and secretly wonder if they exist)? On the back of my edition of “Secret Society Girl” it says:

“A warning label should be put on the cover of this book: Get comfortable, because once you pick it up, you won´t be able to put it down.”

–Cara Lockwood, bestselling author of I Do (but I Don´t)

Well, Cara Lockwood, I´d have to agree with you. Most of my Friday was filled with reading this book.

It not only lived up to my expectation of it – easy, fun chick flick set in college – but surpassed it with really interesting and likable characters. But let me start this right.

First, take a good look at this cover, please.

We´ll get back to it later.

In case you haven´t picked this up before: “Secret Society Girl” is the first book of the Ivy League Series, by Diana Peterfreund. It is set in Eli University, an Ivy league fictional university, focusing on junior Amy Haskell, editor of the literary magazine, who´s expecting to be “tapped” into a literary society but instead gets pulled into a more… er… traditional one.

She, herself, is a pretty nice character – hard working, focused, moral compass pointing north-west, lives with Lydia, pre-Law, a bit jealous, but a good friend. But they are not the ones I felt compelled to share with my friends. Nope. I wrote a huge email to another Seth Cohen-loving friend telling her about Brandon Weare, a nerd-y, a quarter Asian, and generally awesome, Good Guy.

Good Guys always get me in books/movies. Can´t help it. Even if they are named Brandon Weare (discussed and agreed – that´s not a name for a Seth Cohen-type character!). Which is why I´ll probably end up reading the rest of the series.

He´s not the only good character around. But there isn´t much shared about the others (sometimes series bug me). There are four other girls: Odile, a former actress/singer and with an answer to everything; Demetria, a feisty activist; Jennifer, a religious computer genious who´s a bit conceived; and Clarissa, the legacy, responsible for some mushy stuff in the end (that I actually enjoyed). And other boys, Malcolm, who´s lovely (I wish I had a Malcolm in my life), and George, the playboy – they are always fun to read about.

There are two cons to this book: 1) It is very clearly written to be a series (it hints at some other plots that aren´t developed), and this very clearly is just an introduction to the characters and the Ivy league secret society club world the author created, meaning there isn´t a reaally strong plot line and the twists aren´t all that great, even if they are surrounded by entertaining elements; and 2) It is clearly targeted at Gossip Girl fans, it´s not just the cover – even if the characters have more depth and display some meaningful human connection, the author isn´t very subtle about the premise of the series. My example?

“Connubial Bliss reports,” he replied. “One of the most important days in a Knight´s Rose & Grave experience. You stand up in front of all your brothers and basically give them a rundown of your sexual experiences to date.”

(page 126)

Whaaat? Am I completely mistaken and this is normal and happens in other groups or is this just an invitation to read the other books and find out about all the characters´ sexual history? Come oon.

But anyway, I can´t tell you what the major plot-line is, because I think it would be kind of spoiler-ly, but what I can tell you is that there are some very articulate characters here, which is kind of new for teeny books, and they manage to make pretty compelling arguments. To the opposition. Who says some pretty revolting stuff. Which made me go YEAH! in my head several times.

I wish I could be in a society like that, if only to try to absorb a little of their wittiness/eloquence.

The biggest plus in the book, the one that overcomes the cons by itself, is the genuine feeling of brotherhood (and sisterhood) that the characters manage to show in a very seductive way. They make you want to be in a secret society and have that kind of relationship, and isn´t making you want to be a part of the story the main reason we read fiction?

So I´m pretty sure I´ll stick through and read the rest.

But about that cover – I was amazed, I noticed the preppy look but I did not notice the pin until I read more of the story. Which is kind of the point they make in the book (“You only notice if you´re looking.”), was just wondering if I was alone there.

Oh, and there´s something else! I even dog-eared it, it bothered me so much. There´s ONE sequence in the book that I reeally didn´t like. And it´s kind of in the beginning, in the initiation thing. If you read it, you´ll know what I´m talking about. And if you´re anything like me, you´ll probably consider putting it down and finding something else. But don´t. If you ignore that section, the book comes up nicely. Promise.

I did have to tell a friend about it when it happened, Thursday,  though. And everytime he bumped into me with the book on the following day he asked me if it had happened yet. He can´t fathom why girls like to read this sort of book, incident or no incident. But that´s another story.


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