The Barnes & Noble Review
Beverly Hills: 90210 gets a fabulous face-lift for the Gossip Girl crowd in Zoey Dean's first sassy, sun-tanned installment of her Hollywood-centric The A-List.
Cover to cover with personalities you'll love (and love to loathe), Dean's West Coast adventure tells the tale of Anna Cabot Percy, a well-to-do New Yorker who heads to L.A. for an internship -- and learns about Tinsel Town the hard way. Out to revamp her good-girl image while she's there, Anna gets sloshed on the L.A.-bound plane and winds up meeting Princeton-going hunk Ben Birnbaum, who almost makes Anna a member of the Mile-High Club (thank goodness for federal regulations). Ben also asks Anna to celeb Jackson Sharpe's New Year's Eve wedding, and when Anna finds herself arm-in-arm with him before Hollywood's glitterati, she learns that being with Ben means fierce competition from Samantha Sharpe -- Jackson's label-loving, snappy daughter -- and her vicious friend, Cammie Sheppard. Over the course of a few days, Anna discovers plenty about these two vixens and even gets an unpleasant surprise from Ben himself, but with plenty of "new-and-improved Anna" defenses up her sleeve, this girl is set to be the next star on the A-List.
More deliciously sinful than the strudel at Spago and as marvelous as a Stella McCartney frock, Dean's A-List is a trashy treat that will keep you glued to your lounge. The sharp-tongued characters are definitely on a par with Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl, but their L.A. demeanor and knack for late-night partygoing will remind you that this brat pack is another, slightly groovier breed. If you're looking for feel-good California dreamin', you'd better take something first with this one. Shana Taylor
This debut novel may be just the ticket for Gossip Girls fans. Perennial good girl Anna Percy ("Anna had yet to do one truly nasty thing") moves from New York City to her father's mansion in Los Angeles determined to reinvent herself. Things seem to be going well when the 17-year-old meets and makes out with handsome Princeton student Ben Birnbaum on the plane. Even better, he invites her to the New Years Eve wedding that night of a famous actor, Jackson Sharpe. But when her father fails to pick her up at the airport, Anna's new glamorous life takes a downward turn, made much worse when she meets Ben's nasty friends at the wedding. Covering a four-day period, the author cycles through various perspectives, from Anna to Ben's friends, including Jackson Sharpe's insecure daughter Sam, and Sam's friends, cruel Cammie and ditsy Dee, all of whom secretly attempt to land Ben for their own. Readers will likely be caught up in the glamorous world created here, full of fancy cars, decadent parties and designer clothes (Sam has designer's assistants "to help [her] with the selection process"). But, while Dean raises some intriguing plot points (Why did Ben abandon Anna on his father's yacht? Why is a former child prodigy now driving Anna's father's car? Will Anna's sister check herself out of rehab?), the audience may be frustrated by all the loose ends that point strongly to a sequel, if only by way of explanation. Ages 15-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
One phrase seems to describe the genre of this book: beach read. This is an ideal book for a teen girl to read on her spring-break trip. The light read and romantic drama keeps you turning the pages and eager to know who ends up with who and where. The story follows Anna Percy's relocation from her stuffy New York life as she travels to Los Angeles where her father lives. Anna is sick of doing exactly what is correct, so she has decided to be a little wild. During her first few days Anna meets quite the crowd from Beverly Hills. From the first day she winds up on the arm of a hot older boy at an Oscar wedding. After just a few days, Anna realizes that the L. A. life is a lot to handle. The main problem with this book is the lack of a resolution. Anna has some problems with her father that do not seem to ever get resolved. Most of the characters are not very well developed, but they are the kind of people that let you pretty much guess their type. The story is not strong or enlightening, but it is quite entertaining to pick up while sitting in the sun. 2003, 17th Street Productions/Alloy, Ages 12 up.
Hmmmm . . . what to take to the beach-dusty tome from recommended college lists or juicy paperback with passionate near-sex in a bathroom six miles up between New York and Los Angeles in chapter one? Tough decision. Fittingly, this reviewer chose Dean's novel the week that Fox's The O.C. debuted, a television series set in Orange County, California, where money apparently flows even faster than booze. The new book and show have something in common: a fascination with characters who own everything yet suffer typical disenchantments, addictions, uncertainties, and jealousies. Dean's book focuses on fabulously wealthy Anna, who travels to L.A. to live with her estranged father and spend her final high school semester in an upscale internship. Good girl Anna decides to step out of her role and walk on the wild side-easily done with Ben, Princeton playboy flying home to attend a celebrity wedding; not-so-easily done with clawing competition from three Ben-girlfriend-wannabes. Dean's style flows seamlessly from breezy or biting descriptions to melodramatic scenarios. Product identification pervades-no article of clothing or accessory is left unlabeled. Although the presence of four-letter words might require an "R" rating, sex is more talked about than executed in the plot. Anna remains a good girl, struggling to make friends in a superficial setting. The novel, first in a series, leaves many questions unanswered, with plenty of material for yet another day at the beach fantasizing about being good enough in whatever ways are required for inclusion on an elusive, exclusive "A-List." VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Little Brown, 245p., Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18.
Patti Sylvester Spencer
Boy troubles, popularity contests, and problem parents apparently aren't eased by first-class travel, Versace, and film star parties. Anna Percy-prim, genteel, beautiful, and in possession of an eight-digit trust fund-has a broken heart. Her wild and crazy best friend is dating Anna's secret crush, unaware of Anna's unrequited love. Anna decides to seize the day: she will spend the months before college with her estranged father in L.A., interning for a famous literary agency. Before her plane even lands, she's made a date with sexy Ben, who offers to take her to a movie star's wedding. But L.A. isn't all it's cracked up to be. Oh, the adventure's there, but Anna finds herself thrust into a social scene just as wealthy as hers, but very different in class. Three girls confront Anna, each with her own bizarre problems, and each willing to go to extreme lengths to get Ben for herself. Worse, Anna's father is drugged out and dating, and the promised internship has evaporated. Anna's adventures among the Hollywood rich are chock-full of name brands-Jack Kerouac needs to be defined as "a famous writer from the early sixties," but Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton, and Cle de Peau Beaute are among the casually dropped names-but for those girls who are interested in the lifestyles of the rich and famous, this is well written and a good read. KLIATT Codes: S-Recommended for senior high school students. 2003, 17th Street Publications, 245p., Ages 15 to 18.
Gr 9 Up-Moving from Manhattan's elite world to "Hollyweird" presents Anna with quite a culture shock, but one that she's ready for. White gloves and tea give way to her drugged-out dad in the gazebo and a Hollywood celebrity's wedding where she is introduced to Ahi rolls. She discovers that all is not without controversy in LaLa land, and that beautiful girls are not always welcome in the inner circle, especially those who pick up the hunk whom all the insiders are lusting after. After surviving the evil competitors, bad yogurt, and a vengeful seatmate on the plane, Anna proves that gorgeous good girls can, and do, survive in L.A. All of those nasty, high-society types that populate the "Gossip Girl" series (Little, Brown) can be found here in bikinis and Oakleys instead of wool pashminas and Blahnik boots. Unfortunately, this book tries to be more than the others of its genre by making frequent use of words and phrases that don't fit the beach-baby scene, such as "-she wasn't one to snivel over the vagaries of her own existence." Fans of the series will flock to this book, but they may be a tad disappointed with the replay.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this fast-paced but uninspired soap opera, 17-year-old Anna Cabot Percy, an elegant, self-contained New York upper-crust WASP, goes to Los Angeles to visit her distant father and cast off her good-girl image. On the plane she meets a handsome, charming, rich Princeton freshman who invites her to be his guest at a movie star's opulent wedding. But what Anna doesn't know is that his invitation stirs the ire of the most powerful (and indeed selfish, unhappy, and unpleasant) teens at the wedding, the so-called A-List girls, who aren't about to let an interloper poach on their turf. As with the Gossip Girl books, adult readers will be struck by how alone these kids are-there is barely a caring adult in sight-while teens will get the thrill of seeing how the super-rich live, coupled with the heartening insight that money doesn't guarantee happiness. (Fiction. YA)