The Popularity Rules [NOOK Book]


The meek don't inherit a thing. Nice girls win nothing but regret. Virtue is wholly overrated.

If you don't do it, some other girl will.

Kat Elliot has spent her life fighting against phony schmoozing-and it's led her nowhere. A rebellious music journalist, Kat is down on her dreams when her ex-best friend Lauren swishes back into town. Ten years ago, Lauren dumped Kat for high school gold: popularity. Now Lauren wants to make amends by ...

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The Popularity Rules

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The meek don't inherit a thing. Nice girls win nothing but regret. Virtue is wholly overrated.

If you don't do it, some other girl will.

Kat Elliot has spent her life fighting against phony schmoozing-and it's led her nowhere. A rebellious music journalist, Kat is down on her dreams when her ex-best friend Lauren swishes back into town. Ten years ago, Lauren dumped Kat for high school gold: popularity. Now Lauren wants to make amends by teaching Kat the secret to her success: The Popularity Rules, a decades-old rule book that transformed Lauren that fateful summer.

Broke and desperate, Kat reluctantly agrees to a total makeover-what does she have to lose? She's gotten nowhere on her own. Maybe becoming someone new is just what she needs.

Twenty-six-year-old Abby McDonald grew up in Sussex, England, and studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University. She began writing at college, becoming music editor of The Oxford Student and completing her first novel. She has since worked as a music journalist and entertainment critic, interviewing acts as diverse as LeAnn Rimes, Kings of Leon, and Marilyn Manson. Her writing has appeared in the NME, Plan B magazine, CosmoGirl!, and a variety of websites and blogs. She is the author of The Liberation of Alice Love and three books for teens: Sophomore Switch; Boys, Bears & A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots; and The Anti-Prom. You can find her online at and

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ex-besties achieve fame by applying high school rules to London’s social scene in McDonald’s biting second novel. From the day they met as awkward, unattractive freshmen, Kat and Lauren were inseparable. But the summer they turned 16, Lauren transformed, returning to school gorgeous and instantly popular—leaving Kat in the dust. Now in her late 20s, Kat is a music journalist whose caustic feminist rants often find her passed over in favor of her less experienced, more fashion-forward colleagues. By chance she reconnects with Lauren, now a branding consultant, who reveals that her success came from a mysterious diary containing a detailed plan to achieving popularity that she discovered as a teen. The rules for the adult world are no different, she argues, offering to teach Kat. After an extreme makeover and some schmoozing tips, Kat is transformed into the music scene’s new “it girl,” and the writing jobs, sycophants, and party invites roll in. Kat’s nagging doubts about selling out, and suspicions about Lauren, are inevitable, but a few clever twists that teach both women some surprising lessons about power, success, and friendship save the story. Though McDonald’s supporting characters tend toward caricature and the endless stream of “industry events” can be tedious, readers will relish the ride. A gleeful skewering of pop culture, modern femininity, and female bonding. (Oct.)
"An entertaining modern take on the classic myth of Pygmalion."
RT Book Reviews
"Fans of Helen Fielding's chick lit classic Bridget Jones's Diary and Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series will adore this one." 4 Stars
Girlfriends Book Club
"What if there was a rule book on how to be popular? That's the cute premise of Abby McDonald's first novel for adults Popularity Rules."
Debbie's Book Bag
"McDonald hits on a subject that strikes at the heart of young women in just about every culture. Popularity vs. idealism...Readers of contemporary women's fiction will find this one interesting on a lot of levels."
Cheryl's Book Nook
"The Popularity Rules book is based on the simple, psychological truth that nobody ever recovers from high school. In reality, this actually makes sense. While, we all strive to better ourselves, there is a small part of us that still reverts back to our former self in high school."
Minding Spot
"The characters are bold and bright with a smattering of sarcasm and wells of intricacies. Each character in the book is flayed apart to perfection; letting us not only take a peek at them, but analyze them without even trying."
Broken Teepee
"The story is compelling and the characters are interesting and well developed. The plot moves along with some unexpected turns along the way."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402256691
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 781,268
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Twenty-five-year-old Abby McDonald grew up in Sussex, England, and studied politics and philosophy at Oxford University. She began writing in college, completing her first novel before graduating to work as a music journalist. Her novel The Popularity Rules comes out in Fall 2011, and she has also written the young adult books Sophomore Swap and Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. Visit
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Read an Excerpt

All's fair in love, war and popularity.

Whatever they told you is a lie: grades, good behaviour and hard work mean nothing. Popularity is the only prize that counts.

The popular kids get an easy ride their whole lives. Not because they're special or smart, but because they know how to lie and cheat and manipulate their way to the top. Popularity isn't friendship, it's power and status you can use to win everything you want. Why settle for cast-offs? Become popular, and everything else follows: the homecoming crown or the corner office, it makes no difference. If you want to get anywhere in life, you've got to play dirty.

The meek don't inherit a thing.

Nice girls win nothing but regret.

Virtue is wholly overrated.

If you don't do it, some other girl will.

Chapter One

Never fall in love with a rock star. That's what Katherine Elliot's mentor had said on her first day at Think Louder magazine: never fall in love with a rock star, and carry pepper spray at all times. Alan was gone now, of course, and Kat was no longer the same wide-eyed girl whose hand shook transcribing notes from her first big interview, but she did her best to impart that wisdom to all the other new hires.

If only they would listen.

"Are you OK?" Kat wanted to use the toilets before the main act arrived onstage, but a weeping blonde blocked her way to the cubicles.

"Wha...what?" The girl raised her head long enough to fix Kat with a pathetic stare, blue eyes smudged black.

"Jessica, isn't it?" Kat recognised her latest intern under the wispy fringe and moved closer. "What's wrong?"

Jessica sniff led. "You wouldn't understand."

"Try me." Kat might not share the intern's penchant for hot-pink mini-dresses, but she knew a thing or two about broken hearts.

"It''s over!" Jessica broke down again. "He said he, he needed some space. And, like, we were better off apart. And...!" Burying her head in her hands, Jessica resumed her sobs, this time louder than ever.

No, they never listened.

As Jessica shook with lovelorn sorrow, Kat looked around for support, but they were still alone in the dark tiled bathroom with nothing but the low hum of the air-conditioning as interruption. "Let me guess," she murmured, stroking the girl's shoulders in comforting circles. "He's in a band, and things are really happening for them, but he's so committed to his music, it just wouldn't be fair on you to stay together."

"How did you know?" Jessica blinked at her in surprise.

Kat tried not to laugh. "Just a hunch." She passed a handful of tissues, wondering if things ever changed. Twenty-eight was too young to feel this jaded, but in a world populated by barely legal ingénues in leggings and "vintage" nineties denim, Kat was practically ancient. "Clean yourself up and go enjoy the show, and don't waste any more time crying over him," she advised. "There are hundreds of guys like that in London. I bet he'll even come crawling back once his major label deal falls through."

"Right, he will, he totally will." Jessica brightened.

"That's not a good thing!" Kat exclaimed, but the intern wasn't listening.

"Devon's probably just scared." She turned to the mirror and set about repairing her eye makeup. "You know, with the intensity of it. He did say he'd never felt this way before."

"Right..." Kat was still spinning from the girl's sudden mood change. "Wait, did you say Devon?"

Jessica glanced down, faux-coy. "Devon Darsel. You can't tell anyone; we've been keeping things quiet."

"I bet you have." Kat's sympathy quickly dissolved. Devon was notorious on the scene: the pale-faced lead singer of a hotly tipped rock act, he was the kind of tortured artist who could make even the most bitter journalists start gushing things like "Shakespearean eloquence" and "air of dissolute tragedy." He also had a penchant for the Think Louder interns. Kat shook her head, watching Jessica hopefully apply another layer of electric-blue mascara. She was getting off lightly; the last junior writer to enjoy Devon's affections had f led back to Birmingham with nothing but a broken heart and a suspicious burning sensation to show for her grand love affair.

"Thanks Kate," Jessica beamed, surveying her ref lection one final time. "You're the best."

"It's Kat," she corrected, but the girl had already sashayed back into the bar, no doubt in search of another boy to break her heart. "And you're welcome..."

As career planning went, serial seduction wasn't bad; it was certainly cheaper than plying writers with cocaine like most of the other edgy Brit-rock bands. But as Kat reluctantly wandered back into the main room of a too-cool East London bar, she had to admit that Devon didn't need to stoop to those kinds of tactics. No, The Alarm was actually going to make it, unlike the opening act that night. It was an invite-only industry showcase, so the room was thick with air-kisses and skinny jeans, and everyone was ignoring the poor performer stranded onstage with her electronic keyboard and a single spotlight.

Taking pity on her, Kat found a corner of relative calm and began to make notes until a PR girl swooped into view.

"Hiya!" Oblivious to Kat's reluctance, the girl leaned in and bestowed the ubiquitous air-kiss, almost falling out of her white vest in the process. "Oh my God, you're not drinking!" she exclaimed, eyes wide. "Let me f ix that."

"Don't worry, I never drink on the job." Kat shrugged. The glossed pout dropped open.

"Never?" she echoed, her mind clearly boggling as she tried to comprehend a work-night without hilarious tequila blackouts and vaguely consensual hook-ups.

"Never." Kat repeated with a small smile.

"Oh." A frown, then recovery. "So, like, enjoy the show! I know you're going to love these guys. They manage to capture the harsh nature of inner-city deprivation and urban struggle with incredible insight." That last sentence was recited with such a f lat edge that it had to have been ripped from the press release. "Anyways, it was great to see you-we must catch up sometime!" The girl stretched her lips into another gleaming smile and then was gone, leaving Kat in a cloud of such insincerity, she felt her teeth itch from the aspartame.

Soho or Shoreditch, it made no difference: the scene was always the same. Hipsters, scenesters, general "-ers" of the week-the trends changed with dizzying speed, but the core of uber-cool chameleons remained, parading around the VIP section like it was a personal catwalk. At f irst, Kat had found them an amusement, but years of being ignored by the same faces at every show had left her uneasy and a little resentful. She didn't have to put up with it, she knew, but whenever she was tempted to quit music journalism for an industry where people had principles, convictions even, all Kat had to do to restore faith in her chosen profession was cue up her favourite song in the world.

On the bus, in the off ice, even hiding in the corner of a car-crash event like this, there was one song that could restore her sanity, her belief in music as something more than a f leeting background soundtrack or pretext for a shallow, drunken party like the rest of the piranhas here tonight. Abandoning her notebook and the chatter around her, Kat slipped her headphones in place and for a few moments, escaped.

Soaring chords, heartfelt lyrics and a melody she could feel shivering behind her ribcage; it swelled, surged, broke like nothing she'd heard before, or since. The reclusive singer, Eliza Monroe, had released only one album in the last decade, and her tiny, self-run label ignored every one of Kat's impassioned pleas for an interview, but somehow that just added to the mystery. It was the one track Kat could never capture in a few well-crafted phrases, the piece of magic she had yet to convey printed on the page.

But God, she loved to try.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    I think this was a very good book. I read it in one day because

    I think this was a very good book. I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down. The story line was interesting and very believable. I thought the "Popularity Rules" were very truthful. I like how she went from the bottom, to the top, and then to a happy medium. The story is great because she learns how to live life, not in the right ways at first, but she soon discovers that the rules aren't what she thought they would be. I enjoy how the main character and her friends bonded and grew closer.

    This author is very talented and I have read all of her other books, Getting Over Garrett Delaney and Sophmore Switch, are two of my favorite books. This author keeps her books interesting and each one of them have important life lessons and morals in them. I learned a lot of things about myself and others just by reading her books. I think Abby's personal writing style is leaving the readers guessing what happens next. The ending of all of her books are up to you to decide. You never know the full ending or the full story, however, she makes it a good thing and it catches your attention. All in all, she is a fantastic writer with a lot of talent and I hope she writes more books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 16, 2013



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    Posted October 22, 2012

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    Posted February 13, 2012

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    Posted December 12, 2011

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