Inauspicious Beginnings

Just a few days ago, A Reader's Respite was merrily wishing each of you a year of good reading in 2011.  Too bad we forgot to wish the same for ourselves.  If we had, mayhap we would have been spared the absolute disaster newly released by Delacorte Press, entitled Vixen.

With a glitzy cover just begging for the impulse-buy rack at Barnes & Nobel, Vixen is the first of a proposed trilogy (Dear God, help us) marketed for the Gossip-Girl generation.  Set in the 1920s, the storyline follows a rich teen socialite who wants nothing more out of life than to follow her heart and be a flapper.  Of course, she has to overcome some obstacles first:

  1. Her evil betrothed (think of him as a 1920s version of The Bachelor)
  2. Her insanely jealous, but not as rich or beautiful, BFF
  3. Her mysterious, but beautiful, cousin who has a deep, dark secret

Any of this sounding familiar, folks?

If you happened to have read any one of author Anna Godbersen's The Luxe Series (a travesty in and of itself), alarm bells are likely going off in your head right about now.

Because Vixen is almost a carbon copy of Godbersen's books, from the main protagonist who just wants to follow her own heart to the conniving BFF.  Author Jillian Larkin simply changed the setting from New York to Chicago and cut out some paper-doll flapper clothes and slapped them on her characters.

Similar to The Luxe books, there is absolutely no historical fiction value here.  The historical part only serves as a costume for the characters to wear.  There is no essence of the time period despite a few catch-phrases of the times ("you're the bees-knees!"), one would assume the setting is present day.

An overload of rich-girl scheming, drinking, and back-stabbing make for an extremely predictable plot (maybe because it's been written before) with awkward dialogue and no historical merits whatsoever.

the incomparable Zelda

If the era of the flappers interests you, you'd do far better to reach for Nancy Milford's excellent biography of the original flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald.  Through Zelda one comes to understand that being a flapper wasn't just about bobbing your hair and smoking a cigarette.  It was a state of mind and a way of life that women were adapting to break free of the chains (and corsets) that restricted them throughout the Victorian era.

Ultimately, Vixen and its sequels are simply Delacort's effort at a quick cash infusion.  And with such a huge marketing campaign behind it, coupled with the truth that trash sells, it will likely meet with large success.

In the meantime, A Reader's Respite is starting our New Year's Resolution List:

  1. Don't be suckered in with a glitzy cover and a vague historical fiction description
  2. (not sure, but we'll be adding to the list as the year goes on....)

Postscript:  Our copy?  In an unfortunate twist of events, we ended up with two review copies (that's twice the pain).  Just because we didn't pay a cent for it doesn't mean it gets a good review.  We calls them as we sees them around here.

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