Material Girls

Material Girls

by Elaine Dimopoulos


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544671737
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,169,639
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Elaine Dimopoulos is a graduate of Yale University, Columbia University, and, Simmons College, where she earned an M.F.A. in Writing for Children. She has taught children's literature at Boston University and worked as an instructor for Grub Street. She served as the Associates of the Boston Public Library's Children's Writer-in-Residence, during which time she wrote Material Girls

Read an Excerpt

“The first purpose of Clothes . . . was not warmth or decency, but ornament.”
 —Thomas Carlyle,
Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored), 1833
Chapter One
Late, late, late, late. Julia was going to kill me.
I hopped around my room, yanking clothes out of my closet and throwing them on the bed. Like an idiot, I’d forgotten to charge my Unum, so the battery had died overnight. Which meant, of course, that my alarm hadn’t gone off this morning. Which meant I’d probably still be sleeping right now if my mother hadn’t come in to investigate why I wasn’t at breakfast.
Okay. I could pair the yellow Torro-LeBlanc leggings with the blue musketeer tunic—did they really go, though? — or do a black and white combo with the oversize blouse and a belt. That was probably safest. I wouldn’t have to change my nail polish, either. But I’d worn black and white last week—the other judges would definitely remember. I chewed on a section of my hair and glanced at the clock. I had to decide now, or I’d never make it to work by nine.
Tunic and leggings, fine. I grabbed my silver trendchecking gun from the top shelf of my closet, flicked it on, and pointed the barrel at my clothing tags. As the laser hit the tunic’s tag, the gun beeped and the green light stayed green. Same for the tank top. But when I scanned the tag on the leggings, the light turned red. I groaned, hurled the leggings and the gun to the floor, and grabbed my charging Unum. “Sabrina,” I said into the microphone.
Sabrina’s face, which always looked as if it was concentrating hard, filled my Unum screen. “Hey,” she said. From the light smudges of color behind her, I could tell she was outdoors.
“I’m freaking out. I haven’t left yet. I have nothing to wear.” Panic tightened my voice. “The yellow midcalf leggings expired.”
“Yeah. Like last week.”
“So what do I pair the musketeer tunic with? Mine’s cobalt.”
Sabrina thought for a moment. “You have the black leggings from the urban street punk trend, right?”
“I wore them last Thursday.”
Sabrina’s mouth twisted. “Then I don’t know. Would stovepipes work? Or you could do tights the way Olivia—”
“I hate that look,” I interrupted.
“Me too.”
I dug into the pile on my bed and pulled out my maroon stovepipe pants. I hit them with the trendchecker, just to be safe. Green light—still wearable. I shoved them on the bed under the tunic and turned the Unum to show Sabrina the look. “I like it,” I heard her say.
It wouldn’t be my best outfit, not by far, but it would do. “Fine,” I said, rotating the Unum back so I could see her. I wiggled my fingers in front of the screen. “My nails are yellow, though.”
She shook her head. “You are going to be so late.”
I stumbled down the curved stairs of our apartment, clutching the handle of my briefcase in one hand and fanning the fingers of the other hand to dry my nail polish. My mother, Karen, stood in the front hall, smiling at me and holding a titanium travel mug. She made two lattes every morning, one for me and one for my father, who was undoubtedly sipping his on the train already.
Even in my rush, I noticed that Karen’s hair looked good. She’d finally mastered the four-quadrants-of-the-scalp method I’d shown her. The wavy part in the back was bone straight, tamed by the flatiron.
“Don’t worry, honey. You’ll make it. And you look great,” she said brightly.
I kissed her on the cheek and grabbed the mug of latte, spilling some on the bamboo floorboards on my way to the front door. Pausing to flip the lid cover closed, I nicked my thumb on the plastic, and a streak of clear nail cut through the brown polish. I pursed my lips in frustration.
“Oh, Marla, don’t have a big lunch.” Karen had grabbed a dishtowel from the kitchen and was kneeling down to wipe the spill. “I’m trying a new paella recipe tonight.”
“Sure. Your hair looks prime, by the way!” I called over my shoulder as I yanked the apartment door open and ran to catch the elevator.
Outside, a warm winter breeze rustled the sidewalk palm trees. I jogged past the white and yellow high-rises and held my hand out to stop traffic as I crossed two intersections. My station was just ahead. My coffee sloshing inside the mug, I flew up the railway steps as my train sighed to a stop at the platform. I joined the crowd pressing through the doors and looked around for a free seat.
I didn’t bother trying to locate Braxton. I knew he would have caught an earlier train, just like Sabrina. Finding a spot, I laid my briefcase across my lap and released my breath in a loud exhale. I was never late for anything. I hated this feeling. Maybe, for a backup alarm, I could buy a second Unum . . . or did we have an old alarm clock somewhere in the apartment?
The morning light danced across the domed ceiling of the train, and I sat back to watch it. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see heads turn as a few travelers recognized me. Hoping they weren’t picking apart my outfit, I ignored them. I pictured my empty seat on the Superior Court bench—and Julia’s look of disapproval—and willed the train to move faster.
Chapter Two
Ivy let her legs hover in the open door of the urban utility vehicle before stepping out. Even though she was wearing a giant pair of Torro-LeBlanc sunglasses, she squinted in the glare of the camera flashes.
As usual, her bodyguards muscled through the crowd, clearing a path along the sidewalk to the store entrance. Fatima, her publicist, followed, with her Unum to her ear and her head cocked to one side. Ivy was next, surrounded by her nymphs. Madison and Aiko linked arms on either side of her, matching their strides to hers. Hilarie and Naia brought up the rear.
The procession moved slowly, not because the photographers blocked its way, but because it was an arranged photo op. As Fatima always reminded them, there was no point in going to so much trouble for blurry pictures. Ivy pressed her lips together in her signature pout, tilted her chin down, and stared directly into the camera flashes as she strutted forward.
Today she was modeling the Rudolfo label’s armed-forces trend. She wore a tube dress in a fatigue pattern, combat boots, and a shiny necklace of dog tags attached end to end. A black leather bag with silver studs hung off her shoulder. Her nymphs were dressed in complementary fashion: Aiko had on a sailor dress; Hilarie wore baggy Gestapo pants and a T-shirt with TELL ME YOUR SECRETS printed across the front; Naia sported  a bomber jacket and goggle headband. Madison wore a sleeveless jumpsuit of the same fatigue print as Ivy’s dress. Ivy glanced at the bandoleer slung over her nymph’s shoulder like a beauty queen’s sash. She probably should have traded her necklace for the ammunition belt. It looked so tough and edgy on Madison. Oh, well. Too late now—obviously, she wouldn’t debut the trend a second time.
Halfway to their destination, Fatima, who was still on the call, nodded to Ivy. Ivy cupped her hand over her mouth and whispered into Aiko’s ear: “Time to laugh, girl.”
Ivy and Aiko smirked at each other. Tiny giggles bubbled out of their mouths. Ivy quickly turned to Madison and whispered through a cupped hand: “I am the funniest person you’ve ever met.”
The three girls exploded in laughter. Hilarie and Naia picked up the cue and joined in. All five of them directed their grinning mouths toward the cameras. As always, Ivy was careful not to expose too much gum or crunch her chin into her neck. She and her nymphs kept laughing as the bodyguards held open the doors to the Torro-LeBlanc flagship store and stopped only when the doors were firmly shut behind them.
Ivy relaxed her face muscles and massaged her cheeks. She was used to laughing at nothing, but it always felt kind of stupid. Her gaze rose to the screens that were mounted on support beams. Torro-LeBlanc was broadcasting the Pop Beat channel. Kari ma was performing; the band’s raw sound filled the vast store, from its cement and sea glass floor to its warehouse-style ceiling, where exposed gray pipes zigzagged in a wild maze. She hoped they would eventually play “Swollen.” No matter how many hits she had, it still gave her a rush to hear her tracks broadcast in public.
Her bare shoulders were suddenly cold in the aggressive air-conditioning. “It’s kind of freezing in here,” she said to the nearest employee, a middle-aged man with a shock of dyed yellow hair.
“I’m so sorry, Miss Wilde. We’ll fix that right away,” he replied, and jogged to the back of the store. While she stood hugging her shoulders, she watched her entourage of nymphs drift magnetically toward the racks of clothes on shiny gold hangers. Torro-LeBlanc personal shoppers swarmed them, offering to assist. They had the store to themselves for an hour before it would be opened to the general public. Ivy swallowed a yawn—it was on the early side. But she’d be okay as soon as they got started.
Ready, set, shop. The lyric from the old Torro-LeBlanc ad came to mind, and she hummed it. Eyeing the new late-winter styles, she headed toward the racks.

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Material Girls 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Intrigued by the premise, I think this is a story that holds far more appeal to readers that have aged out of the YA genre. A touch of political commentary on the “state of kids” today, rampant consumerism and the rather go and get at them culture, now much lamented by anyone who has looked at internet comments. Where the book failed me a bit was also in this political commentary, the rampant consumerism, the ability of Maria and Ivy and their seeming inability to extricate themselves from much of the on again / off again pronouncements. While I did think they were well voiced, developed and felt real and appropriate, the access they were granted (although I look at the kardashian’s and think famous for nothing – no real talent) seemed a bit convenient and far fetched. An interesting story that kept me intrigued, but didn’t have me rushing to get back to the next page. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Someone please lend me this!
Kaylexanna More than 1 year ago
Material Girls is a bit of a mashup of fashion, science/speculative fiction, and satire. It also brings up a lot of points about sustainability in the fashion industry, society's obsession with celebrities, and worker's rights. I thought what it was aiming for was interesting, but the novel isn't super lengthy, and while it covered angles about celebrities, fashion trends, and environmental awareness well, there just wasn't enough time to focus on other aspects of the story, which left it feeling like it had spread itself a bit too thin. That said, I thought it excelled when it came to discussing issues of environmental sustainability and the downright absurdity of some fashion trends. When I initially picked up Material Girls, I was expecting a dystopian society with a focus on the fashion industry, and that's sort of what you get, but there doesn't appear to be any kind of militaristic government or anything, like you might see with a lot of other current dystopian/speculative fiction novels. In Dimopoulous' novel, our current expectations of how the job industry works, and how a lot of major entertainment industries work, has been turned upside down, and she built her world's society around that concept. I really liked how she switched things up, but on the other hand, I REALLY wanted more history on how this society formed. While teens often start some of today's trends, their opinions and ideas also generally aren't treated seriously and aren't given the same weight that you would see from an adult, so how did the Junior and Superior Courts come to exist? I thought it was interesting that the teens in this society were given the majority of the power in the fashion, movie, and videogame industries - or at least, they had the illusion of it. This book also has a TON of characters. I was a bit overwhelmed at first. It alternates between Marla's chapters, which are told from a first-person POV, and Ivy's are told from a third-person POV. Both of them have their own cast of characters in their narratives, and the number of names adds up really quickly. It would have good to see the cast culled a tiny bit, so we could see more of specific characters in the supporting cast - I felt like there were maybe a few too many to really get to know anyone outside of Marla and Ivy, with very few exceptions - but the characters Marla and Ivy associated with added much different tones to their stories, and I did like that aspect of it. It just would have been nice to see more development in the supporting cast. The pacing is also fairly slow, so this book won't be for everyone. Toward the end, the pacing does pick up quite a bit, but while things are happening early on, the book takes a while to get where it's going, and that will make some readers turn away. That said, I thought the issues Material Girls explores are important ones, and I think it's worth giving this book a shot to see if it works for you. There are some darker undertones to the story, and I would definitely like to see those explored more in future novels in this world, if possible. Material Girls seems like a deceptively light novel at first glance, especially compared to a lot of other novels that explore similar issues, but it's also quite unsettling once all is said and done.
MEGolden19 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Although I felt this left a little to be desired as far as development, I liked the premise and the dual narration. The obsession with youth and the disregard for anything that isn't accepted by the masses provides a lot to think about, especially when careers top out at age 17. Marla and Ivy give readers two very different views of life in a world where you're only as good as the popularity of your next decision. I don't think it's accurate to call this a dystopian novel, either. No, things weren't perfect and kids are blatantly taken advantage of by the world at large, but no one's being threatened with death, there is no one character who can do something no one else can, and there is no crazy vision of world domination. This can be labeled ageist, at worst. However, I did like Marla and Ivy. Some of their character development seemed rushed in places, but I found them both to be sympathetic. The other characters were also good, whether they were naughty or nice. Some of them made me cringe and some made me smile, but all were well drawn. The writing could use a little more tweaking in places to eliminate unnecessary story lines, such as one of Ivy's nymphs being used to spy on her- which ultimately amounted to nothing and was never mentioned again. Material Girls was ultimately a good story. You might be frustrated with the fashion talk in a few places, but the characters and plot provide many topics of thought and conversation.
Palegirl More than 1 year ago
A fun, fast-paced and thought provoking look at a not-too-distant youth-obsessed future. The premise of this novel is that youth are the buying force and drivers of the economy. The entertainment industry is the pinnacle of success, but with a tiny window from about age 13 to age 20. Entertainment comes polished and packaged. It helps sell the trends - which are everything! And the trends are short-lived to keep the economy rolling. I loved the crisp writing and engaging plot. The novel has a wide appeal across age groups and has much to say about the death - and re-birth - of creativity. I love the glimmer of hope for the future. And I would be delighted to read a sequel to this novel.
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
**Thank you so much to HMH Books for Young Readers for letting me read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!** I don't even know where to begin with this review! Material Girls completely blew me away and I'm trying to put together my words somehow to make this review not seem all over the place because I just have so much to say. If I could give this book one million stars, I would. I would give it every last star in the sky... that's how much I loved it. In this futuristic world created by Dimopoulos, teenagers are in charge of everything. No matter who you are, you reach your occupational peak during your teen years, right after you get your Tap in seventh grade. Basically, your Tap is when you get told what job you are going to have for the rest of your life. Of course, most people want to be superstars or work at videogaming or movie companies, though some people get stuck being Adequates, which means they have to do all the business and doctor jobs. Once you're not a teenager anymore, you move down in your job. It's believed that teenagers have the best ideas and dictate what's trendy and what's not, so they're considered top-notch... they're like your glory years. Marla works at one of the Big Five clothing companies, Torro-LeBlanc. Not only does she work for them, she also holds one of the most coveted jobs there, as she is on the court that decides what gets to go onto production. She gets to help pick the trends. It's just the coolest job ever if you think about it! After getting fired because people don't agree with her idea of what's trendy, Marla begins work once again as a drafter, where she spends day after day designing garments that never get anywhere because other people don't look at them the same way she does. Ivy Wilde is a teen pop star who's known for her craziness. She's also number one with her music whenever she releases a new song or a new album. She gets paid for singing tons and lives the good life. Ivy doesn't even have to buy her own clothes-her record company buys the clothes for her. The other thing is that she isn't allowed to wear the same clothing piece twice, which is kind of harsh, because she will wear something from a certain trend and then everyone will go out to buy it thinking that it's the next best thing and then the next time they see Ivy she's wearing something completely different and then everyone goes out to buy that too. It's like a never ending cruel cycle in order to make money. I just want to talk about how awesome this world is. A world where teens run the world and decide what's cool or not... it's just such an interesting concept. All of the characters in this world have this tech gadget called an Unum, which is kind of like a cellphone of sorts, which was pretty wonderful. This world also had these things called trendcheckers. You would take your trendchecker every morning and scan your clothing to make sure that they were still considered trendy; you didn't want to wear something that had expired and was so yesterday. This world had tons of waste too, because of how fast everything went out of style. It kind of made it hard for people to be themselves because everyone was wearing the same trends at the same time, just in different colors. The characters in this book stuck out so much to me. I know that they're ones that I'll never forget because I felt so close to all of them, especially the two perspectives that the reader gets to read from, Marla and Ivy. A great thing about this book was that it was told through two different people's eyes that had completely different jobs-one was working hard to get by (after being fired) and the other was just doing what people told her to do and she was stinking rich. Sometimes your hard work doesn't always pay off, which is sad Another awesome thing about this book is that so much happens in it. It's only a bit over three hundred pages but so much happens. I didn't even think that it moved too fast either, which was excellent. The whole book was just so perfectly paced. I would love to see this movie adapted to the big screen, because this world was just so magnificent. The book also had a strong concept threaded throughout that it's okay to be different, which I really loved. As soon as I was about ten pages in, I knew that this book would become a new favorite, and I can't wait for the release date so that I can go buy myself a copy! This is definitely a book that I would suggest to everyone, because of how great it was, but especially to fans of in-depth dystopian societies and fighting for what is right.
MoniqueD More than 1 year ago
In a world where teens and tweens are the deciders of what is trendy in fashion and entertainment, Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde are queens. They are amongst the privileged few, admired and envied. However they are both nearing 17, and getting closer to being over the hill.  MATERIAL GIRLS is a biting, and at times hilarious, satire on our society’s obsession with youth and trendiness, but it is also much more than that. It is also about growing up and staying true to yourself, and fighting for what you believe. Marla and Ivy are very interesting characters, and for once very believable teenagers; all the characters are very genuine, and none of the usual stereotype is to be found, which is a feat in itself. I felt the first half of MATERIAL GIRLS is much, much, much better than the blurb leads to believe. Ms. Dimopoulos’ writing is simply dazzling in its evocative simplicity and wonderfully imaginative imagery. The author creates a world that is vivid with fabulously creative gadgetry and terminology. I also very much appreciated that she practices what she preaches, in that there is NOT ONE brand name mentioned.  However I thought the second half of MATERIAL GIRLS felt a bit predictable, if not a trifle preachy but the cause is right so I won’t complain, especially since the ending surprised me quite a bit. Regardless of my qualms about the second half, minus the fabulous conclusion, MATERIAL GIRLS fully deserves 5 full stars because of the brilliance, and dare I say, genius of the first half. I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Elaine Dimopoulos in the future! (Don’t) Stay young!