May 23, 2013

Review: The Daughters by Joanna Philbin

The Daughters (The Daughters, #1)

The only daughter of supermodel Katia Summers, witty and thoughtful Lizzie Summers likes to stick to the sidelines.
The sole heir to Metronome Media and the daughter of billionaire Karl Jurgensen, outspoken Carina Jurgensen would rather climb mountains than social ladders.
Daughter of chart-topping pop icon Holla Jones, stylish and sensitive Hudson Jones is on the brink of her own music breakthrough.
By the time freshman year begins, unconventional-looking Lizzie Summers has come to expect fawning photographers and adoring fans to surround her gorgeous supermodel mother. But when Lizzie is approached by a fashion photographer who believes she’s “the new face of beauty,” Lizzie surprises herself and her family by becoming the newest Summers woman to capture the media spotlight.
In this debut young adult series tailored for younger teens, author Joanna Philbin explores what it’s really like to grow up in the thick of the celebrity world. As Lizzie and her two best friends (and fellow daughters-of-celebrities) juggle normal high school events with glamorous family functions, they discover the pitfalls of fame and the importance of friendship.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Poppy (first published April 11th 2010)

Long Story Short:

I think it's been a long time since I despised a book as much as this one. In my opinion, it didn't have depth, a realistic plot, good characters or fantastic writing. For ages 14 and up I would consider this novel way too shallow. The messages that The Daughters contains are certainly valuable - but transferred very weakly. It might be an entertaining story for everyone under the age of fourteen, but in general, I'd suggest you try other novels that contain similar messages, but come with great heroines and witty writing, as well.

No Smarties - sorry!

Review for You:

Mhm. Now, that was quite something. I mean, I knew this wouldn't be the next  brilliant work of literary art or something. I was quite sure that The Daughters would be predictable, girly and a bit infantile. The problem is, books like this one - with a girly cover, seemingly shallow synopsis and your typical main characters (you know, the ones you're supposed to identify with, because there appearently are only those three types of teen girls: sporty, dreamy and opinionated) can bare not one but several surprises if you actually give them a shot. 
Let's talk the obvious example. Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series.
The criteria:
Girly cover? Check!
 Seemingly shallow synopsis? Check!
Typical main characers? Mhm...not quite.
So, as you see, The Princess Diaries series has a lot in common with The Daughters at first view.
If you start reading Cabot's books (and any of her books, really), you realize there is so much more to them than meets the eye, though. There are characters going through more or less serious teen problems, struggling with confidence, body image and finding their place in the world. At the end of every PD novel we get a good lecture. We get humor and the advice to not take life and ourselves too seriously, to believe and to hope and to make the best of what you have.
My point is, The Daughters had the potential to touch me. Every book has the potential to change my life, simply because it's a book. The problem with The Daughters was that it's so cliché, so unrealistic and so dragging that it couldn't impress as either: a fluffy summer novel or a serious growing of age story.
First of all, the main character followed motives I clearly didn't understand. I mean, yes, teens can be moody, but they are usually not completely out of their minds. One day, she hates the spotlight, the next she loves it. And why? Because she can be "herself" as she is photographed?
The first time I really got annoyed by the book and the characters was when I stumbled upon this dialogue at the end of Lizzie's first "real" photoshoot:
"That was amazing! Did you have fun?"
"That was the most fun I've ever had in my life!", Lizzie said, "Thank You!"
"No, Lizzie, thank you!", Andrea said, giving her a hug. "You're a natural. I knew you would be!"

Okay...I'd have let that one pass,although it was pretty hard for me to believe that a change of scenery and photographers made Lizzie not only completely comfortable in front of a camera but also a natural model...

Throughout the book, I endured various moments when I wanted to throw The Daughters against a wall. Or, at least, slap one of them. For example, that misunderstanding between the MC and her love interest? So, SO fake! And it took way too long to clear that up. It's okay for some stories to be unrealistic, but I want to at least have the feeling that the author cared about the plot and thought it out.
Also, Carina? She seemed like a nice person at first, but I found her to be very bitchy and ungrateful towards the ending. 
In general, Lizzie's friends seemed to never have a real opinion. If Lizzie changed her mind, so did they. They encouraged her with pretty much everything she did -and their apparent lack of brain also became visible whenever they tried speaking. Usually, the only type of sentence that came out was "Totally." or "You're right" or "Exactly!" or something similar to that. They got on my nerves.
The "plot twists" were by no means predictable -but I think that could have something to do with the fact that they were also completely unrealistic. 
Lastly, I had a serious problem with Lizzie's parents. For that they were the main problem in her life at that point, they were absent surprisingly often - without saying so much as Goodbye.
I don't know if it's just me, but whenever I don't like a book and still decide to finish it, I start seeing so many things that annoy me even more. One of them clearly was Philbin's writing. I mean, throughout most of the novel it was okay. Nothing special, not bad, but it lacked individual elements that would make me recognize her. Quite a few times, though, I stumbled upon passages that annoyed me. Like this one:
"She was so annoyed that she barely felt her Iphone vibrate as she stalked down the hall"
Uhu. That happens to me all the time, too. I get in a serious fight with a teacher and - by the way - behave like the exact spoiled brat I try so hard not to seem like. And then I am so emotionally out of it that the very sensation of a vibrating phone in my jeans pocket is too much for my brain to handle.
Admittedly, I could have just looked over that one. But then again, someone could have just thought about if that sentence made any sense at all and come to the desision to delete it. That, at least, probably happens with most of the books I read and like, so that I don't have to get all worked up about annoying sentences.
Overall, I found this book to be very shallow, boring and disappointing. If you do crave a story that is set in the "New Yorker High Society" you might want to check out the Gossip Girl series - endless novels with juicy drama and intrigues, but with a way more entertaining plot and significant writing skills. As I mentioned before, The Princess Diaries series would be the perfect choice for younger readers 

1 comment:

  1. Yikes! I debated picking this up when it first came out, but ultimately didn't because it just looked to young for my tastes. Good think I passed apparently! I like the occasional MG or younger YA (the Princess Diaries is a good example), but I hate it when they are trite like this one sounds. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books


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