Author: Alissa Grosso
Published: May 8, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Meet the clique that rules Fidelity High: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, each one handpicked by über-popular Hamilton Best. You know you're "in" when you make the guest list for one of Hamilton's parties. And in the thralls of senior year, everyone wants to get noticed by Hamilton.
But Hamilton's elite entourage is coming apart at the seams. Olivia fantasizes about finally having a boyfriend, Zelda dreams of ditching high school, Nordica wants to be alone with her photography, and Shelly's plotting to dethrone Hamilton. Lies and secrets are ripping away the careful ties that have kept them together for years. But Hamilton has the biggest secret of all, one that only her boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would shock everyone and destroy Hamilton's fragile world—and she'll do anything to protect her secret and keep her clique together.
If you look up the term "queen bee" in the dictionary, it's very likely that you'll find Hamilton Best's name. She's worked her way to the top of the social ladder, and she prides herself in the fact that's she's a part, if not what defines, elite at Fidelty High. But things are changing as Hamilton's "ladies in waiting" start developing desires beyond high school, itself. Hamilton hates the fact that her group is slipping, but she's finding her own secret makes it hard for her to hold onto her title, as well. Can she restore balance and order, stay on top of the social pyramid and survive the school year, or will she lose everything she's fought to create?
Popular sounded like a hit or miss book for me based on the premise because I'm not sold on that alone. Let's be honest - how many twists can an author put on the same idea? Popular girl, popular followers, deep, dark secret, yadda yadda...that's what I was thinking going into the book. Popular managed to shake things up though, and author, Alissa Grosso, pushed her book beyond the mere premise and add a layer of depth that shook the story, defined the characters and made it a poignant read. Balancing a tricky plotline, a full cast of characters and a powerful thematic undercurrent, Popular pleasantly surprised me.
Popular promised a twist with Hamilton's secret, and it certainly didn't disappoint. I was not expecting what happened, and it added an extra dimension to Hamilton's character because she seemed so shallow and surface-heavy. While the beginning started a bit cliche, Hamilton's secret and the strained relationship between the girls helped spiral Popular to the climax, which truly changed everything. All that aside though, I will admit that Popular took a few chapters to become acquainted with though, as four different points of view was tricky to maneuver. Once I became familiar with the various voices though, I managed to get into the story, which ultimately led to the twist in Popular that ended up truly redeeming the book for me.
All in all, Popular was a surprisingly good read. Contemporary fiction like this has to fight through the cliches to become something more, and Popular managed to switch things up with the hidden twist. I give it a very strong 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to those who enjoy YA, especially those who like contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.