Monday, June 8, 2015

Triple ARC Review: Those Girls - Lauren Saft

Those Girls
Lauren Saft 
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Poppy
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the eARC I received via Netgalley!

The more I think about this book, the more I dislike it.

Those Girls is about three girls who are "friends" and what they go through as their junior year progresses. Each of these girls is facing her own problem: Mollie is having trouble keeping her boyfriend interested in her, Veronica is trying to shed her reputation for being easy, and Alex is trying to deal with the guy she's in love with dating someone else. This all sounds fine and like it could potentially be interesting since the three friends are keeping these secrets from each other; however, things soon go horribly terribly wrong.

I was intrigued by this premise of three friends at odds with each other, but as I started reading Those Girls, I realized that the actual premise was different from what I thought it would be. These characters all come from pretty well off families and attend an all girls prep school. When they're not at school, they're pretty much always partying, smoking weed, or having sex.

On some level, I was intrigued because it seemed like it would have a Gossip Girl vibe; however, even though it's similar, Those Girls misses the mark in being a Gossip Girl-esque story in many ways. One thing that I think made Gossip Girl so great was the metropolitan high life aspect - the characters had some class. On the other hand, Those Girls took place in a suburb and it felt like a small town full of spoiled kids. The other main thing that was a problem was that the main characters of Those Girls were horrible people. Sure, the characters of Gossip Girl weren't saints, but the characters of Those Girls rarely redeemed themselves for their poor behavior. Combining their behavior with their everyday setting, the characters of Those Girls can't be forgiven as much as those of Gossip Girl.

The one character who sometimes showed some redeeming qualities was Alex. I didn't particularly like Mollie or Veronica, even at the very beginning - I found it really hard to connect with them - but at least Alex seemed like a real, relatable character for most of the book. If it were up to me, I'd probably have a book just about Alex and remove her friends. Yes, it would be a bit cliché - girl in love with best friend since forever - but at least it would remove her horrible friends who make her do horrible things.

Did I mention that Mollie and Veronica were horrible? I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who might want to read this book, but all three of these girls have awful double standards and do things to each other that makes one question if they're really friends at all. I guess in some ways Lauren Saft succeeded in showing how horrible people interact and somehow are still friends for whatever reason, but it felt more like trying for shock and horror rather than actually exposing the wrongs of society. Especially with the ending of this book, where the girls are still friends but are still horrible people and it doesn't make any sense how they even forgave each other because THEY'RE HORRIBLE.

I feel really bad about this review. (Amrutha's mom calls me the "Paula" of WLABB). I hate writing negative reviews because I know someone put their heart and soul into writing the book I am bashing, but I can't help ranting over this one. The thing is, I can't say that there was absolutely nothing good about this book - after all, I did finish it. There were moments where I saw the characters actually growing and escaping from the things that made them horrible, but ultimately they remained horrible, one of them even losing the person that made her less horrible.

As a character based reader, the thing that kept me from liking this book was the horrible characters (horrible in the sense that they have poor moral standards, not in the sense that they are poorly written). I didn't like what these characters did to each other, and I didn't like how someone could read this book and potentially think that their actions were ok in the end. I think there are people who could really enjoy this book; I'm just not one of them.

- Kiersten

Noor's Review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Those Girls was honestly so whack -- I didn't like the book, Amrutha didn't like book, Kiersten really didn't like the book -- she rated it a full star lower than both Amrutha and I, which usually doesn't happen because she feels bad being mean. It isn't enough to just give it a low star rating and move on though because I have such a strange mix of emotions about this book (not mixed feelings, I know I'm not a fan of it) -- I was entertained enough to keep reading and it wasn't one of those books where you force yourself to make it through page after grueling page so you can bash it. I might not have enjoyed the book but it kept me mentally occupied enough that I could feel what I was reading and wanted to know where the story was progressing, if you could call these storylines progress. But anyway, I didn't force myself to finish it. And then, the very first page of the book, I thought the voice was gonna be all weird and awkward sounding and shift tenses because there were a few phrases in the first few paragraphs that I guess I just wouldn't have had there and I was bracing myself for a super poorly composed novel but then that quickly changed and the actual writing composition was fine for the most part although the character voices were intriguing not in that they were poorly written but just in what they said about each other.

Anyway, thats about it for my mixed feelings, let's move on to what I'm certain of: why the book wasn't good. One of the biggest things was the characters. Alex, Veronica, and Mollie are all juniors in high school and honestly don't act like it at all. They're also supposed to be best friends but they like, hate each other and are catty and rude and it's all really extra and hella OD. In one of the scenes in the very beginning -- this is the first day of school, I'm pretty sure -- Mollie's internal monologue describes Alex as such:

"I watched Alex talk to the seniors, all her clothes hanging off her like she couldn't be bothers to actually put them on, but just mustered the energy to drape herself in whatever stained, wrinkled item was lying on her closet floor."

Like, rude much? And there's so much of this. From all three of them. I get sometimes you feel trapped in your friendships blahblahblah but honestly if you three hate each other this much just get out of this already. Alex already has a guy best friend (who she's in love with in case you didn't pick up on it on one of the times she mentioned it every five seconds), Mollie and Veronica have other friends who invite them to parties and stuff. They'd deal.

I've read novels with purposefully unlikeable protagonists. I've read novels where I just personally didn't like the main character and most people did. This is a different case altogether. In this book, none of the characters are even remotely redeemable, even by the end (sorry spoiler alert not that sorry) and they aren't unlikeable for any sort of reason other than they just are because they're annoying people and that's how they roll. And honestly, I could read a book with terrible main characters. I can suck it up. But this book just has so much weird content as well. I'm the last person to regulate anyone's use of anything or attendance of anything but this book overdoes the parties and illegal substances and relationships and all that stuff to such an extent that I just don't want to read about it anymore and the main characters start to annoy me because of their associations with their actions.

Also, Amrutha mentions this in her review, but Mollie and Veronica have the same voice. It really bothered me that if she was going to use different voice she couldn't have bothered to flesh them out. Adding profanity to Mollie's voice does not make give her depth and dimension and gets very old very fast. In the beginning, I thought Veronica was nuanced and wasn't bothered but the more I read the more I felt like they were essentially the same voice. Also, even though Alex's voice remained recognizably different doesn't mean I liked her character. I wasn't a fan of the way she mentioned her love for her best friend so often. Like there's one scene where she says "I knew he wasn't intentionally putting his arm around me, but I liked to pretend that he was. I liked to think that if someone had seen us right then at that moment, they might have thought we were a couple." His arm was reaching for the back of her headrest so he could reverse because that's how you reverse that's like driving 101. Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees a problem with this. It'd be ok if it was a few times but every time he's even a little bit near or thinks about being near she gets like this. It's ridiculous.

Overall, it was a largely unsatisfying book and the characters were all really annoying but there are some gems in there (like not quality, like to laugh at and wonder how it got published gems) so if you want to read it go for it.

- Noor

Amrutha's Review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Wow, as the Simon of WLABB (Kiersten is Paula as mentioned above, and yes we are referencing the glory days of American Idol), it is a little embarrassing for me to admit that there is a book that Kiersten hates more than I do. But who'd have thought, I didn't hate this book /that/ much. Let's get started:

First of all, I got this book at BEA 2015, making this the very first BEA book I'm reviewing for this year! Also, I met Lauren Saft and she signed this book to me, captioned "I hope your friends are nicer than those girls," which, is, to say the least, something that anyone with even the most basic sense of humanity should hope for anyone else. I wouldn't wish the main characters of this novel on anyone.

So this book is about three girls who are all mildly sociopathic, from the get go calling their best friends sluts and bitches and whatever worse spoilery insult they could think of. God, just reading their descriptions of each other was exhausting. I went into this expecting friend drama and some backstabbing and boy trouble but this was another level of horrible. As Kiersten has touched upon above, it is impossible to like a book where all of the main characters are so unrelatable and just plain mean.

That being said, I did think they were fairly well constructed and for a while even seemed like character development was happening (although ultimately I didn't like how any of them turned out), it is clear that the characters were not neither static nor poorly written.

HOWEVER, while the actual characters themselves were not constructed poorly, the representation of their Point of Views was. This book would have been so much better off in third person omnipresent, because this author just struggled to differentiate between the distinct voices of the three main characters. Alex was easily the most distinguishable (incidentally, also the most tolerable of the three, so I'm thinking Lauren Saft had a particular affinity for her). Then there was Molly who basically is the exact same as Veronica, except she says the word "fucking" every sentence. I'm not kidding, I'm not sure why anyone who was involved in the publishing of this book didn't once think "huh, I think adding in one curse word into every sentence of an otherwise undistinguishable chapter to create the illusion of a point of view is a ridiculously transparent idea and we should work on melding this character into having her own voice." While I understand each of these girls are meant to share their cruel and downright unbelievable mindsets, I think having separate PoV chapters begs actually separate point of views.

Other than these major points of the well constructed but poorly developed and poorly voiced characters, this book was entirely mediocre. It contained at least one unpredictable plot point, which was added some ~interest~ and ~pizzazz~ to the book but all in all, just genuinely mediocre. Girls keep secrets. Girls get high and have sex and party it up, and somehow, their secrets unravel. Girls get hurt. Possible character development. No character development. Girls suck. Basically, that is the summation of this entire novel. Entirely uninteresting with a few pitfalls, but ultimately not bad enough that I feel the need to trash it all of the internet.

It was eh. If you want to read it, by all means, just try to remember that the characters might almost develop and not for a reason -- sometimes, I guess that happens in real life. It's just wholly unsatisfying to read about it in fiction, especially with these characters.
- Amrutha

Do you like books about mean girls?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Awwww dang it–I have this book for review and seriously don’t feel great about going into it since not just one but THREE of y’all didn’t like it. Oh well, I’m gonna brace myself and trudge into it. Great reviews!

    1. Best of luck! If anything, it might make you feel better if you have any friends you think are mean, since they won't be nearly as mean as Those Girls.

  2. Thanks for the reviews! I had a feeling this book might not work for me and hearing all of your thoughts, it sounds like that initial suspicion was right. Thanks for reading this one so I don't have to!

  3. I'm sorry to see you guys didn't much enjoy it. I gave it four stars, though it's definitely not for everyone. I found it to be kind of like gossip girl, though I hated just about all the characters except for Alex.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian