The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Number of Pages: 320
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Shannon’s ‘clique’ is just her and her best friend and she has a super-embarrassing nickname that won’t go away. It is no huge shock when her classmates vote her least likely to be crowned Prom Queen. What is shocking is the new hidden camera reality show she finds herself starring in, titled The Prom Queen Wannabes! Shannon and two other Wannabes must battle to be elected Prom Queen and snag the One! Million! Dollar! prize. After a summer of makeovers and training at Prom Queen Camp, the hidden cameras watch the three of them enter their senior year equipped with secret skills to help wage war on the popular set. Things at Westfield High are about to get ugly, and Shannon must decide how much she's willing to give up for a shot at winning that tiara.
I'm a total sucker for covers like this. I know it's really nothing special, but something about the yellow prom dress with the tough-girl boots really pulled me in and I immediately requested this without even reading the synopsis. I really wanted to enjoy this book, and did find parts of it pretty entertaining, but, in the end, I found it just plain too silly and unbelievable to really enjoy.
The premise of the book is this: a school takes a poll on who they believe are the three junior girls who are most likely to be voted prom queen the following year and the three girls who are least likely to be voted prom queen. The three girls least likely to be voted: Kelly, Amy, and Shannon are given the opportunity to be on a hot new reality show: Prom Queen Wannabees. The three girls will be secreted away for the summer to prom queen boot camp where they will get makeovers and learn how to be popular. The school has agreed to let the show put up hidden cameras around the school and the show will start airing in the spring and lead up to the live grand finale at the prom. Whichever girl wins the crown will also win a million bucks. It's a ridiculous premise, but I like fun and fluffy contemporary novels occasionally and was willing to give this one a shot.
My suspension of disbelief was tested very early on, however, when the book revels the reason for Shannon's unpopularity. You see, one day in gym her finger cot (a condom-like cover for one's thumb when she/he is sewing and which Shannon uses for her quilting hobby) falls out of her pocket. A classmate sees it and holds it up and supreme mean girl, Grace, hilariously dubs it an elf condom and coins Shannon as being an "Elf Ucker." The nickname sticks and Shannon's cruel classmates cling to it for months or years, supposedly, singing her Christmas carols even in the spring and putting elves in her locker and on her desks. I just. First of all, high school students would never, ever, use the work ucker instead of fucker. I mean, let's be real, using the word ucker doesn't change what you are really saying, so why bother. I understand wanting to write a clean book--and I'm totally fine with that--but if that is the case than the reason should have been different. Or the nickname. To use the word ucker doesn't change the meaning behind it. It's disingenuous. Furthermore, really?! A girl is totally unpopular, like one of the three most unpopular girls in her school because a finger cot fell out of her pocket sometime in the past. Stupid shit happens in high school all the time. People move on.
The other two girls made more sense to me. Amy is shy and overweight. She is introverted and the type of girl you see on campus and just want to put your arms around. Kelly is standoffish and mean with a face that is full of piercings. Of course, during the "boot camp" everything changes; once the piercing come out and her hair gets dyed, Kelly is transformed into being so beautiful she starts getting modeling jobs once school starts back up. Once Amy gets liposuction-yes, for real--and a orange weave (for some inexplicable reason), she is beautiful, too. Let's stop here for a minute. There is absolutely no reason in which the fat character should get liposuction in a YA book. For one, it just sends the worst message ever to the younger teen girls this book is aimed at (I'm guessing due to the subject matter, the cover, and use of the word ucker that the target audience for this book is probably between 12-15). In addition, there are no consequences to the procedure. None. She gets to be thin and gets a boyfriend. Furthermore, a young girl's body is still growing and developing. That type of procedure has to be bad for it. I didn't look into this, and I'm obviously not a doctor, but the whole thing is just mentioned and glossed over which seems incredibly thoughtless and careless to me.
The book is really about Shannon, though, and told from her perspective. Shannon is best friends with Marnie, a girl that is conveniently also going to be gone for the entire summer building houses in Haiti or something like that. Marnie couldn't care less about the whole elf ucker thing and is quintessential good best friend from any YA novel. Marnie has a huge crush on a guy named James and the two girls often hang out with James and his best friend, Rick. The two boys are cute science nerds, and on the last day of school Shannon begins crushing on Rick big time when the two share a moment at a friend's graduation party. Thoughts of romance will have to wait, though, as she is about to leave for boot camp and is under contractual obligation to keep the whole show and her part in it top secret.
So the three girls show up to school and people immediately take notice. They have on nice clothes now, and Shannon is now a blonde, so, you know, completely different from who she used to be. Rick is deemed to be too nerdy for Shannon by the show's sponsor Norealique, but the popular quarterback who just happened to recently break up with Grace (you know, the mean girl who has made Shannon's life hell for the past for years) is perfect. Who will she end up with? Of course, problems arise between Marnie and Shannon when she shows up looking and acting differently. Will they work out their differences? Blah, blah, blah.
Honestly, I think I could of enjoyed this book if it hadn't been so much. Everyone knows that reality shows edit their shows to manipulate how the audience feels about the people in them, but Norealique, the evil company behind it all, is pure caricature. Because they are giving money to the school, they have changed the lockers to have their signature lips on them and have painted the hallways with Norealique advertisements. That just wouldn't happen in a public school. A company may "sponsor" a school and advertise on say, their football score board, or something, but a whole school wouldn't be painted as a billboard. A similar, smaller complaint I have is that the author was constantly dropping brand names that are almost what they are standing in for like Tosritos (or something like that) for Doritos or Dancing with the Semi-stars. Even Norealique is obviously just a combination of Clinique and L'Oreal with an N. I found it distracting and not at all clever. The whole book was just too much. The finale at the prom is especially just completely over the top and unrealistic.
Overall, I just cannot recommend this one. While I found parts of the story entertaining and liked Shannon, the other two girls, Rick, and Marnie, the premise and story are just a little too silly for my tastes.
*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*