Book Review: Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl #1) by Cecily von Ziegesar

Title: Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl #1)

Author: Cecily von Ziegesar

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Genre: Young Adult, Drama, High School

Published: 12 September 2007 by Bloomsbury Australia

Format: Paperback, 208 pages

Synopsis: “Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep–sometimes with each other.

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, steal our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely…

You know you love me,
gossip girl” 

(Taken from Goodreads)

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So I basically needed a quick and dare I say  – trashy – book to get me through this assignment period. Something that didn’t require thinking and I could go through in a day. As I went through my bookshelf looking for just that, I came across my paperback copy of Gossip Girl, bought in store years ago. I don’t really remember having read it before (but at the back of my mind I felt like I have as well), shrugged my shoulders and started reading.

Let me just say, I’ve seen every season of the tv show, loved how glamourous upper east side life is portrayed, but trying to get through this book was like poking myself in the brain repeatedly. It felt a lot like trying to get through the last few seasons of the tv show – you knew it was trashy and not very well written, but you just had to know what happens!

I guess a lot of my dislike for this novel can be attributed to the my age. While I still read children’s fiction and coming-of-age stories, Gossip Girl portrayed characters that felt flat. I could not relate to them at all – not even little J. I understand von Ziegesar is attempting to portray the life of the rich within New York City, but her style of writing was choppy and her characters were so dull. I don’t recall anyone from high school being this bitchy, annoying or sex-driven at all. Perhaps it’s the different cultures (between Australia and America), but I just don’t understand their motivations.

I found the story flowed really weirdly as well. A lot of the time I found ‘Gossip Girl’ narrating a sentence or two here and there during each character’s perspectives. There was no plot at all either.

If you have been keeping up with my recent reviews, such as the one on The 5th WaveI have explained what I think makes up a good story. 1. Plot line. 2. Characters. This novel lacked both. I understand it is the first in the series, and both the plot and the characters will probably be more rounded out by the end of the series. But just like the tv show, this book needed a lot of tightening up.

It was a very quick read, and I’m glad to have ticked it off my TBR pile, but I probably won’t pick up the rest of this series.

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Book Review: Zephyr The West Wind (Chaos Chronicles #1) by R.J. Tolson

Title: Zephyr The West Wind (Chaos Chronicles #1)

Author: R.J. Tolson

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆☆

Shelf: Read-in-2013, Young-Adult, Fantasy, 2-out-of-5, Released-in-2012, Kindle-eBook, Netgalley-Read, Book-Tour

Publication Date: 21 August 2012 by Universal Kingdom Print

Synopsis: “Seventeen years ago, in the island village of Dentro, lived a large and powerful demon. With just a howl, mountains were obliterated. With the help of an outsider, the chief of Dentro destroyed the demon and sealed its dark power within three powerful ancient weapons: a spear, a shield, and a sword. After leaving the unwelcoming village, the man who had helped destroy the demon took the sword in an effort to keep the village and its people safe.

Months later, a villager bore the son of the outsider. Carrying the child of a stranger was in violation of a sacred village law, and everyone knew whose child the boy was. Born into a village filled with hateful people, Zephyr grew up not knowing why he was so hated. With no friends, and eventually no family after the passing of his mother, Zephyr was forced to survive by himself as an outcast.

Zephyr’s only wish was to make his mother proud and force the village to recognize him–while surviving in a world filled with demons, paranormal abilities, love, hate, and undiscovered lands.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I think this book started out very strongly. I was entranced by the prologue with its promises of ancient Greek mythologies and was very, very excited to devour this book. However, that was just it – the prologue was full of promises that Tolson did not deliver. What I did like about the book was that Zephyr is a good role model for children reading his story. His strong afflictions towards being the best person he could possibly be, even to people that had treated him like trash, was a message that put a smile on my face. I think Tolson created a character that was strong in this sense. This was the one consistent trait of Zephyr’s that I liked, because there were SO many inconsistencies riddled throughout the book.

The biggest problem I found with Zephyr’s character was when he said he wanted to gain power to protect the people he loved. These were people that he’d only met recently. While that could be overlooked, I couldn’t read about him leaving his boy tour guide unconscious within the palace that he was touring while he ran away from a fight that he’d started. At that point I was like, ‘Really? You left him unconscious and you’re just going to leave?’
There were many other inconsistencies that I couldn’t bring myself to overlook. On his quest to recover the ancient weapons in order to save his village, Zephyr had to visit two cities that were at war with each other. They were called Cheshria and Sleeves. At Cheshria, the guards manning the gate didn’t even bother to check the carriages that held Zephyr and his companion, Leon, and let them through into the city without a second thought. The driver of the carriage was a friend of Zephyr’s and had told the guards that the carriages held his servants. I found it hard to believe that the guards would not bother to check the carriages at all, or question as to why servants are riding in the carriage while their master drove it.

What irritated me more than these inconsistencies was the way this story was written. At the beginning of the story, Zephyr narrates the story as if he’s addressing the reader. Thankfully this doesn’t last long because I really dislike novels that are narrated like that. Moving from that, Zephyr then continues to narrate the story by repeating things the readers have already learned by voicing them aloud as if we were stupid. And as if that wasn’t irritating enough, the story suddenly switches to Leon’s perspective suddenly and without warning for a few chapters near the end. Not only was that change in perspective abrupt, it just totally ridiculous because Tolson does not tell that audience that it’s Leon’s perspective, you have to figure it out yourself. When this first happened, I had gone halfway through the chapter before I stopped in my tracks and was like, ‘Wait…this cannot possibly be Zephyr narrating this…what’s going on?!’
And please don’t get me started on the ‘love’ story. Was it really necessary? Because it was just so cringe-worthy reading through it. While I do think Zephyr and his love interest, Autumn, are good people, I really couldn’t root for them. From the beginning, Zephyr turns into a blubbering idiot when he meets her. And from then on, she’s The One. Yeah, ok. And don’t even get me started on how he manages to have visions of her sneaking away from her village in order to come find him and help. That is not even explained. Was he thinking about her so much that he just suddenly have these visions in his sleep that actually turn out to be true?

While you may think I hated this book, it wasn’t horrendous. I really enjoyed the fight scenes and they were exciting to read about. Especially the ones at the end when they really felt genuine and you couldn’t tell that Zephyr was definitely going to win. However, this was a book that I did have to force myself to finish – and that is never a good thing. I will probably be giving the next one in the series a miss.

THANKS TO: Samantha Lien from JKSCommunications for providing me an electronic ARC to review honestly.