Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Genre-ally Speaking: The Secret Diamond Sisters, by Michelle Madow

Title: The Secret Diamond Sisters
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Read: June 2014
Where It Came From: BEA
Genre: Teen Romance
Rating: 1.5 Diamonds

The Quick and Dirty:

Rich teens in Vegas have adventures in love and family over the course of a week. The characters may be the most selfish people ever to have have moved from a run down apartment to a penthouse suite. The book may be the most repetitive book I've read in a while. And to think, this is only the beginning of a series!

The Wordy Version:

There are quality reads, good reads, guilty pleasure reads, and then there’s whatever category this one falls into. To be perfectly fair I’m sure it could fall into many people’s guilty pleasure pile. Just not mine. This is a book that, like wearing a ruffled pinafore, belongs to girls younger than myself.

So why did I read it? Yeah, yeah, good question. (1) I picked up a complimentary copy at BEA. (2) It’s from the HarlequinTeen imprint, and I’ve been hearing that HarlequinTeen has more plot than traditional Harlequin. (3) I thought the story could be frothy fun.

Three teenage sisters have been living with their single mother in a small apartment until their mother’s alcoholism forces their father to reveal himself to his children. As it turns out, Daddy Diamond is a Vegas casino owning billionaire with no parenting experience to suggest that instantly handing them all limitless credit cards and access to parties on the Vegas Strip could be a bad idea. Within literally a night, all three girls have crushes on guys who range from off-limits to predatory. Over the course of one week they burst into tears, lock themselves into their condo from embarrassment, and see each other transforming into new (more selfish) people.

I never read Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars, but I am guessing the series The Secret Diamond Sisters is starting will be very similar. I also imagine that seeing attractive 20-somethings playing these teenagers will be a lot more fun than reading their repetitive and often vacuous thoughts in this 382-page book.

Trust me about the repetition. Here’s an example I found almost as soon as I opened my book to prove it to you. Within all of three pages, we get, “Peyton couldn’t believe it. What an arrogant jerk to say that” (256), “Peyton was amazed at how full of himself he was” (257), and, “His face twisted with arrogance” (258). I think the guy may be arrogant, don’t you?

Not that the other characters are substantially better than him. The first point of view character is Savannah, the youngest Diamond sister, who in her old life wants to fit in with her volleyball team and wishes she could be a pop star. Savannah pouts, stomps her feet, blinks away tears, and—in better moods—plays with her hair/clothes/accessories. My favorite Savannah moment is when she spends a paragraph worrying about how her family is a target for kidnapping, before we read, “But Savannah had other problems—like figuring out what to wear tonight.” LOL

Oldest Diamond sister, Peyton, is a punk rebel because when she was in ninth grade her boyfriend cheated on her by dirty dancing with some girl and an ice cube. Still angry at the ex-boyfriend she tries to have short-term sexual relationships with boys now. And resentful that her super-wealthy father abandoned the girls to live with an impoverished alcoholic, she refuses to dress like anything but a hooker. Best Peyton moment: she vows to keep track of Savannah and the predatory douchebag Savannah likes, and then two paragraphs later, she’s off to pursue her own guy. (Bonus fun: she LEAVES her sister at the club with the predatory douchebag within pages. That is taking sisterly responsibility seriously.)

Middle Diamond sister, Courtney, is meant to be very sympathetic. She’s the quiet good girl who, in their pre-Vegas life, was having trouble finishing her homework because she was so busy working a minimal wage job to pay the family’s bills. She does seem less self-absorbed than her sisters, but it’s not totally clear whether that is because the bar is pretty low or because she actually has stuff going for her. She spends much of the book wistfully thinking about her soon-to-be step-brother, Brett.

Brett may also be a sweet person, as his ideas of dates to have with Courtney are genuinely cute. Brett makes a big deal about how he doesn’t like to hang out with the wealthy kids at their private school, and how he’s still friends with his public school buddies from the time before his mother got engaged to Daddy Diamond. And yet Brett is driving a brand new Lamborghini, flashing his black AmEx around, and planning jaunts to Europe. I can’t help thinking that Brett is protesting a bit too much about how little use he has for the high society of Vegas.

The final point-of-view character, Madison, is the smart, beautiful, popular nemesis to the Diamond girls. We’re supposed to hate her because she can manipulate guys using her feminine wiles, but I don’t see how she’s actually worse than Diamonds 1 and 3. She appears to be smarter than all the Diamond sisters put together, and she’s managed to claw her way to the top of the social ladder in the private school despite having parents who earn only a small fraction of what the casino owners do. In fact, the only thing I really fault Madison on is explaining how few calories she can afford to eat in every one of her chapters, or how much exercise she must do to burn off the drinks she indulges in at night. Perhaps one of the later books involves a twist of a Diamond sister revealing to Madison’s parents just how starved their daughter is, thus removing Madison for a few months to go to rehab. Drama!

Specifically teen soap opera drama. I was expecting a more formulaic romance novel from any imprint within Harlequin, and I commend the book for going past that. But this series isn’t wish-fulfillment for me. Call me over for a drinking game if the CW starts airing it, and in the meantime help me find my way back to classic Pride and Prejudice fanfiction when I’m looking for fluff to bring to the pool.


Feliza said...

This sounds... so horrifically bad. But also like a very trashily entertaining show on The CW.

Susan said...

I won't know whether to cheer the CW or hiss at it if an adaptation doesn't happen.

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