This fifth series installment features a relatively large continuing cast of high school friends, monitored by the anonymous gossip girl who posts tidbits about their activities on her Web site. The book is set in a contemporary Manhattan fantasyland, where parents are absent, wealth is enormous, and high school poets get published in the New Yorker. Part of the action takes place during spring break at a posh vacation home in Sun Valley. Blended families, internships, and anxiety about college acceptance letters-all aspects of modern teenage life, regardless of economic status-appear in the story, but relationships and sex are the main issues occupying the characters. Slice-of-life episodes take the place of a plot, but there are some surprising elements, such as the revelation that one character has elderly parents and lives a middle-class life and the appearance of a hippie found-art family that refuses to compromise their ideals. The book is not entirely self-contained, and it is hard to keep the characters straight without knowing the entire series. The gossip girl Web postings that appear at intervals act as a narrator, summarizing the plot thus far and sorting out the people. This book belongs to the literary tradition of escapist literature. VOYA CODES: 2Q 4P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Little Brown, 208p., Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18.
Follow the continuing exploits of Gossip Girl (who is she, really?) and her friends as they drink, get stoned, and spend their parents' money on lavish spring break activities. Blair temporarily moves in with Serena to escape her pregnant mother and the loss of her bedroom in preparation for the baby's arrival. Nate struggles to stay off drugs while he watches Georgie destroy herself with any substance she can get her hands on. Looking for success as a poet, Dan suffers through a disastrous internship at the offices of the prestigious literary journal Red Letter. Best friends Jenny and Elise spy on Leo to discover his secretis he as rich as they think he is? As each subplot unfolds, the lives of these jet-setting teens are revealed to be full of angst and alcohol. This book reads like an adolescent soap opera, with each chapter serving to introduce a new, equally one-dimensional scenario. Physical description of the world each person inhabits serves as a substitute for any character depth. The author wastes much of each page on discussion of shoes and clothing. Recommended for series fans only. (A Gossip Girl novel). KLIATT Codes: SRecommended for senior high school students. 2004, Little, Brown, 17th Street Productions, 201p., Ages 15 to 18.