Author: Lisi Harrison (Twitter)
Publish Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
My picture is on page eighteen of Noble High's Phoenix yearbook. I am one of the Phoenix Five. You nominated me. You thought I was one of the most outstanding students in our freshman class. You were wrong.Still, I accepted my award. I acted special. But I couldn't help wondering what it was like to be that way for real. So I broke into Ms. Silver's safe in the faculty lounge and stole all five of our journals. I'm not exposing them out of jealousy or anger. I'm doing this because I am tired of the lies. The bar is too high, and cheating is the only way to reach it. Instagrams are filtered, Facebook profiles are embellished, photos are shopped, Manti T'eo's girlfriend was a fake...is anything real anymore?I found the answer in our journals. These are 100 percent real and 100 percent unedited. The proof is in the pages: We're all pretenders.
The Phoenix Five are the elite...the best of the best...the most likely to succeed in everything in life. Awarded and revered, they are untouchable; until now. Stolen journals of the Phoenix Five reveal that nothing is real and everything the students - and the town - have seen is a lie. TO attain perfection, one must create the illusion of perfection; but if they leave a trace, it's bound to be found. And now, the truth is out there for everyone to see.
Offering readers the age-old premise of the truth behind the lie, Pretenders will have a solid base of readers and fans based on premise alone. The evocative hook is alluring, offering us a peek behind the mask of perfection - something I'm certain I'm not the only one who covets. Author, Lisi Harrison, has written a story that whittles five picture-perfect teens down to the truth behind the facade and give us the real, hard truth. Rife with spice, intrigue, drama and plenty of reveals, Pretenders is a rollercoaster read.
I mean it when I say with utter certainty that Pretenders has all the makings of a great first book in what could be a captivating new series. Ms. Harrison paints her characters, at first, in extremes - perfect and glossy. As the novel begins to peel back the layers though, the gray areas and the festering underbelly of their perfection is exposed. All these things make such an expose like that of Pretenders pack a powerful punch. Unfortunately, I had some qualms with the ultimate execution of much of the story. We are given five different POVs in this novel, and each is actually in diary form. Three girls and two boys pour their innermost feelings onto the pages, and I can honestly say that, at times, I couldn't remember which character I was reading about because each one seemed so dang similar to the last. They were immature, snotty, pretentious and fake - all of which I could forgive if I got to see a vulnerability to their characters that made them more accessible. That wasn't provided though. I think that, had the book been about 200 pages longer, this could have worked because the petty, shallow natures played well into the story. I just wanted much more progression than we actually got in the end. Furthermore, as this book is just the first installment in a new series, I was left with a lot of nagging questions about motives, events and even the characters themselves as we're thrust into a pretty massive cliffhanger, which felt more like being dropped off a cliff than anything else.
Overall, Pretenders was not a bad book, but it felt a bit lackluster for having given readers such an excellent premise. I wish there had been perhaps two fewer characters and a few more answers, both of which would have kept me invested in the series. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary stories and mysteries.
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.