Book One of the Capital Girls series
By Ella Monroe
Available now from St. Martin's Griffin
Ella Monroe is the pseudonym of Marilyn Rauber and Amy Reingold, a reporter and a writer making their YA debut. They've drawn on their own history living in Washington, D.C. to write a series in the vein of Gossip Girl and the A-list with a political twist. You know this kind of novel - lots of narrators, lots of brand names, lots of juicy scandals, and lots of plot twists. It's pure popcorn.
I went back and forth on whether I like the characters or not. There's lots of backstabbing and frenemy action, which doesn't make them the easiest characters to like. While there are several Capital Girls, the main narrator of CAPITAL GIRLS is Jackie Whitman. Jackie just lost her best friend in a tragic car wreck and has been fighting with her boyfriend Andrew Pierce - the President's son. Meanwhile, her mother is forcing her to cozy up to a gossip columnist's daughter and she's being seduced by an older lawyer. I felt like Jackie had her heart in the right place, but she's very tempted by the easy way out.
Less present in the novel were Lettie Velasquez, a Paraguayan girl in the US on an embassy sponsorship, and Laura Beth Ballou, the only Republican in the core group. I liked Lettie, who is trying her best to get ahead and go to a good school so that she can go back and help her country. Laura Beth seemed a little too naive and easily misled for someone raised in a political atmosphere. Not mentioned at all on the back is Whitney Remick, a California transplant who just wants to go back home. She's the most obviously villainous of the group, but it's a touch hard to delight in her machinations when she just wants her mother's love.
Many plots are introduced in CAPITAL GIRLS, although only a couple are resolved within its pages. The most compelling is the death of Taylor Cane, the one all the Capital Girls considered their best friend. Andrew was in the car with her, but he's remained completely silent about that night. Throughout the book Taylor remains a forceful presence in her surviving friends' lives, and each of them muse on the mysterious crash at times.
If you like Gossip Girl, the A-list, The Elite, Insider Girl, The Clique - any of that kind of series - you'll probably like CAPITAL GIRLS too. If you don't, then you'll probably want to avoid this one. (Quick note for parental types: there is underage drinking, drugging, and sexing. Obvs.) There's discussion of immigration debate and a female president to class up the joint, but it's still a book that exists more to be juicy than good literature. I'm not sure if it qualifies as juicy yet, but I'm willing to read SECRETS AND LIES, coming November 13th, to see what happens next.