How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Number of Pages: 320
Release Date: April 23, 2013
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.
When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?
Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.
Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is a cute, quick, summer YA read, but if I'm honest, I didn't love it. While reading it, I just couldn't help but think that the whole premise and execution was just plain silly. However, I did enjoy the characters, the setting, and the writing style, so all wasn't lost.
How Zoe Made...follows Zoe and her cousin, Jess, at their summer internships at Fairyland Kingdom Theme Park (a Disneyland type attraction). Zoe has recently lost her mother and is trying to figure out how she is going to pay for the medical bills she left behind. Jess's parents have been hit hard by the economy and have had to use her college fund to stay afloat--dashing her dreams of college in NYC. One of the perks of this internship is that one lucky girl (and one lucky guy) can win a $25,000 grant at the end of the season, which could greatly help both of their problems.
Jess arrives hoping for one of the coveted "princess" titles (Cinderella, Snow White, etc), but ends up in the secondary role of Little Red Ridinghood #2. Zoe doesn't really care what role she gets, and is surprised to find out that instead of being a character, she is going to be "the Queen's" assistant for the summer...
Mini Rant #1
So this was one of the areas in which the book veered into totally unrealistic for me. The boss of this park is called The Queen and, of course, she is an evil queen. I didn't have a problem with her ordering Zoe around (having her get her breakfast and walk her dog, etc), because internships can be ridiculously hard and menial, and bosses will often ask interns to do tasks way out of their job description. But, for real, the boss of this park is called the Queen and rides in the parade where Zoe has to shield her from the rotten fruit that is thrown her way. Which, I'm sorry, is just so, so silly.
Zoe and Jess settle into their small, un-air-conditioned room in the intern dorm, while...
Mini Rant #2
The princesses and princes settle into their huge suites with chandeliers and flat-screened TVs. For real, the "top-tiered" cast members live, like, 20X better than the rest of the interns. And the rest of the cast can't go up to the turrets (because, of course, that's where summer interns would live) after 8PM. Also, those who are chosen to be princes and princesses have usually gone through pre-training camps (that cost $5000 a pop) on how to be theme-park royalty. Which they do so they will be more likely to win the grant. I'm sorry, but if their parents are rich enough to shell out $5000 for summer camp, do they really need that grant? Whatever.
Of course, they both have romances. Zoe finds herself interested in Ian, whose role is Puss in Boots; while Jess falls for RJ (or something, I don't have the book in front of me), who is a former prince, current mentor.
Of course, shenanigans abound. A male intern is sneaking off grounds into the "Forbidden Forest," and the queen wants to know who it is, but he saved Zoe from quick sand *eye roll* and so she doesn't want him to be caught. The royalty end up being, surprise!, a bunch of back-stabbers who only have their eyes on the prize. Misunderstandings fly around. Yada, yada, yada.
This is too harsh. How Zoe...is honestly a cute little summer read. I truly liked Zoe (and Jess and Ian). She is funny and compassionate and loves her cousin and does whatever she can to help Jess get on top. While the story is (almost too) sweet, it does have the right dashes of bitterness (the death of her mother, for example), which stops it from tipping too far into saccharine territory. Honestly, I just wasn't the right audience for this book. While I love YA, I think this one was just a little too young...but I'm sure tweens (and, ahem, actual teenagers) will love it.
*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*