Review “Popular” – Gareth Russell

September 10, 2013 Book Review, Initial Reaction 0

Review “Popular” – Gareth RussellPopular by Gareth Russell
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Published on: July 7th 2011
Published by: Self Published
Pages: 320
Genre: Teen Fiction
Format: eBook

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The Story(summary from Goodreads)

On the first day of September, 16 year-old Meredith Harper rules over the teen it-crowd of Belfast, Northern Ireland. But beneath the surface, Meredith’s complicated web of manipulative lies and self-serving intrigue are slowly beginning to threaten her social position and she finds herself being challenged by handsome Mark Kingston, the only guy in the school who’s always hated her.

In a world where nothing stays secret for very long, Meredith and her friends will need all their skills to guess who’s in, out, coming out, going up, going down, dating, cheating, lying and trying to cope….

Let the games begin!


Initial Reaction


My Thoughts

If I was asked to describe this book in as few world as possible I think I would go with “Mean Girls / Gossip Girl / The O.C. Mash Up”.

This book had me hooked from the start as Belfast became the ‘Orange County’ of Northern Ireland. It’s all about glamour, and status and popularity. Not really the first thing that I would think of Northern Ireland being like, for me it’s all beautiful scenery. But it was very refreshing to get away from the American clique type books and have one set in Belfast instead.

So, the characters. Meredith is your typical queen bitch, but 10 times worse. She’s one of those characters that you both love and hate. Everyone both loves and fears her, and she is a really manipulative and clever girl who you know you would never want to cross.

“Catherine nodded, but she still wore the sort of shaky half smile that Meredith’s victims frequently sported when she delivered words of comfort wrapped in a barbed wire of bitchery.”

Her friends in the “clique” are a mixture of pretty, perceptive and just plain dumb girls, with a guy, Cameron, thrown in there too.  The whole dynamic of her friends along with the main group of guys works really well and together they end up in some quite funny situations. Although there are a few relationships going on in this story, we don’t have a massive romance story line within the book, which was a nice change as we got to focus on the friendships rather than any love stories.

The way Gareth Russell is able to capture the voices of 16 year old girls is very impressive, and at times they seem older than their sixteen years, which is probably correct for the lifestyle they are living as Belfast’s most rich and famous. But this world is completely different to my I have read about before, and the rules of popularity differ for these Irish cliques; attending Mass is a chance to hobnob and being on the Lady of Lourdes fundraiser board is a sign of status. The majority of the characters are hideous people who will cause havoc and hurt just to get there on way. However they are written so well, that instead of finding them horrible and annoying they are just pure entertainment.


Final Thoughts

Well written and entertaining, but thing overall the book was a bit too young for me. I haven’t read any teen lit since I was 14, and it’s not something I see myself reading a lot of in the future.

Re-Readability: Probably at some point

I would recommend this book to fans of: high school fiction, rich girl characters, Gossip Girl, The OC, Mean Girls

Rating I Liked it

Have you read Popular?

What do you think of teen genre books? Do you find them too young too?


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