By Cherry Cheva
Released Sept 29 from HarperTeen
Read her guest blog!
I bought SHE'S SO MONEY, Cherry Cheva's YA debut, with my own money. (Full disclosure: it was actually a gift card from my former roommate, but that makes the sentence less snappy.) It was well worth it - funny and romantic. And I luckily finished it a mere two minutes before it was my turn to drive. So I was quite happy when I opened a mysterious package that included DUPLIKATE (along with Never Cry Werewolf and two other books that I shall review later). So happy that it was the first novel I read after returning to my permanent address from the UK. (Why are you only reading this review now? Because it's the release date.)
Kate Larson has a plan. She's gonna score well on her standardized tests and go to Yale with her hot and intelligent boyfriend Paul. Yeah, she's working herself into the ground, but it will be worth it. Then she falls asleep after opening up her old account on a game similar to SecondLife. She wakes up to Rina, her avatar, come to life - complete with a love of glitter and pink. But while Rina has the style of a preteen, she's got a brain of her own and a desire to get out of the house. The two begin switching, and things go wrong in classic storytelling fashion.
To me, DUPLIKATE was not as funny as SHE'S SO MONEY. However, it still made me laugh. I also enjoyed the complicated romantic dynamic between Kate, Rina, Paul, and Jake, Kate's former best friend. Both Jake and Paul are good guys, which makes any triangle more interesting. And Cheva knows overachieving teenagers. There's the self-imposed pressure, the desparate allocation of time . . . I managed my time and stress better than Kate when I was in high school, but I remember the drive and knowing that every one of my college admission essays sucked. (I still got in. I'm sure most college admission essays are pretty terrible, if only because the prompts are insipid.)
If you enjoy humorous, relationship-driven stories, you'll probably enjoy DUPLIKATE. Don't worry about the science fiction elements - Rina's existence isn't pondered much, it just is. And please ignore the cover, which I find boring. I prefer the motion of the SHE'S SO MONEY cover, even if it made me think the main character was Latina.