Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

Title: Material Girls
Author: Elaine Dimopoulos
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Date: 5 May 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository

I received this book through NetGalley from HMH Books for Young Readers for review.

In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out? (summary from Goodreads)

A lighter, though no less harrowing, twist on the dystopian theme, Material Girls is a thought-provoking read. 

I really enjoyed Dimopoulos's world building. Though the novel is set in an undisclosed future date, it's recognisable and feels like it's not too far in the future, and it's this that gives Material Girls a slightly terrifying undercurrent. While early on elements are recognised as futuristic technology, Dimopoulos builds to the revelations of the book's truly dystopian themes. This isn't a world destroyed by war or famine or sickness, but one in which the creative arts - fashion, music, movies, etc - thrive, and as such, so too does consumerism. Through the alternating points of view of Marla, who works for a big fashion design company, and Ivy Wilde, a famous pop star, Dimopoulos has crafted a unique and hard hitting look into a future where the likes and dislikes of teenagers dictate all and where being over twenty means possibly being obsolete. There's a whole new twist on child labour and on the power of trends here, and with its roots solidly in today's worlds, Material Girls will stick with you.

An engaging read, Material Girls is easy to finish in one sitting. There's some family, friendship and romance elements to this story that both lightens and deepens the dystopian themes which I found interesting. Dimopoulos found a good equilibrium, never diverting from the major storyline and giving just enough to keep a reader hooked, wanting more. I liked Marla and Ivy as characters. Not so much at first, but as we get to know them and learn about the world they live in, you feel for them. Ivy's story is not as bright as Marla's, for all that she's in the spotlight, and in some ways the end of Material Girls is dissatisfying. But it's meant to be, and I quite liked that, overall. There's no major action in Material Girls, in that there's no serious fighting, violence, or loss. It simply flows along. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that what Vivienne, a side character, says about change is oh so true, and Material Girls reflects that. Read it, and you'll understand what I'm getting at.

Somewhat reminiscent of the Uglies series and Feed, Material Girls is one to read if you enjoy dystopian that is thought-provoking and engrossing, though not so much action packed. 

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