Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Review: The Market - J. M. Steele

Published: April 1st 2008, Hyperion

Pages: 336 pages, hardback

Acquired: Sent for review by Curled Up with a Good Book

Summary (from Goodreads): ‘High school senior Kate Winthrop is about to find out just how much she's worth.

After stumbling across the Millbank Social Stock Market, Kate is horrified to discover that out of the 140 girls in her class, she's ranked a bleak 71. Sure, she's not drop-dead gorgeous, and her "fashion" choices leave a bit to be desired...but 71?! Determined not to accept her fate as a "junk bond," she and her best friends quickly set out to make her the fastest rising stock on the Market.

Armed with a sexy new haircut and killer wardrobe, Kate puts her plan into effect -- and the analysts take note. In a matter of weeks, her stock value soars, and "Blue Chip" status is within reach. But what begins as a fun social experiment quickly turns into an obsession, one that threatens to ruin her reputation, friendships, and a chance at first love. Will Kate survive the highs and lows of the Market, or will her security crash and burn?’

My review: Well, I was sold instantly on the premise of The Market and had really high hopes for it. The plot is so unique and manages to make what would be a traditional high school novel about a girl trying to become popular something completely fresh and new.

Kate is a brilliant character. She’s hilarious, a little socially awkward but absolutely horrified to find out she’s ranked number 71 on her high school’s version of the stock market. 71 – seriously?! She’s so indignant at her ranking that I couldn’t help but root for her to make it to number one – and get one over on bitchy queen bee Gretchen.

While Callie, Kate’s effortlessly gorgeous friend is against the idea of Kate’s social makeover (easy for her to say she’s against it but at number 11 she has nothing to worry about), their other best friend Dev (who is crashing and burning at number 121 and pretending she doesn’t care) is all for Kate’s radical new look.

After a weekend of primping, preening and shopping Kate is ready to wow her high school classmates and the plan actually works. She finds herself rising up through the market but Kate suddenly realises her popularity is growing and won’t stop until she reaches number one – no matter what (or who) stands in her way. Kate has to make the decision how far she is willing to go and who she is willing to give up to make it to the coveted number one spot.

The writing in The Market is spot on and it’s clear the writers really know their target audience (side note: J. M. Steele is actually the pen name of two New York entertainment industry professionals – how mysterious). The section of the story where Kate first finds out about the market is my favourite bit of writing in the book:

‘Oh. My. God.
I didn’t know exactly what the change part was, but I definitely knew what it meant to be ranked seventy-first out of the 140 girls in my class. I was just on the wrong side of the great divide. Was I that much of a loser?! Tears formed in the corners of my eyes, and I took another big bite of ice cream; and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed that there was an icon of a bear flashing next to my name. Moving the cursor over, I clicked on it. A new window opened. And if the list part was horrifying, this new page was truly mortifying.’

The Market is such a fun book. I read it in a single sitting on a lovely sunny day and finished the story feeling happy and content with the world. It’s just a really enjoyable, light hearted novel that made me laugh out loud and ‘awww’ in all the right places. Really lovely stuff.

First line: ‘Somewhere in the distance I heard a cell phone ringing, and I slipped in unnoticed through the side door.’

Final thoughts: A fun high school novel that will definitely get you wondering where you would place in the Market.

Read if you liked...: Fat Cat - Robin Brande

Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)

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