Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Emma Rutter (Year 10, Friends' Grammar School) reviews "Popular"

Okay, so many of the Facebook fan page followers might remember that last month I went to speak at Friends' Grammar School in Lisburn (behold their crest, above) and had a really great time there. It's a great school and the audience was a lot of fun. I spoke a bit about what it's like to be an author, read from chapter one of the book and then did a book signing (luckily, signature has definitely improved since the first time I did at Waterstones in Belfast when the first five books looked like a drunken spider had been dropped in ink and allowed to wander across their front page...)

Anyway, one of the Year 10 students at Friends', Emma Rutter, has written a review with her thoughts of Popular and a big thanks to Emma for writing it and Mrs. Black for sending it to me. Love this review and hope you do too!

Gareth Russell: Popular by Emma Rutter

The bitchy, backstabbing - and totally beau - debutantes of Belfast. 

Meredith Harper, Kerry Davidson, Cameron Matthews and Imogen Dawson are the monarchs of Mount Olivet Grammar School. The trend-setters, the queen bees and the heart-achingly beautiful, everyone wants to be them - and don’t they know it.  But what the outsiders don’t see is the web of scandal, silences and intrigue that lies behind the glamorous front.

It’s the tale of their lives, in and out of school. It’s the book which reveals the struggles between friends, the decisions faced by the possibly-gay Cameron, the troubled relationships between the characters. It’s an insight into the lives of the A-List, filled with dinners, parties and lots and lots of sparkle.

The characters are all different, yet each of them needs each other indefinitely. Where would Meredith be without her bezzie Imogen? And can you imagine ditzy Kerry with anyone other than Cameron to soothe her down at the time of a Fabulously Induced Breakdown? 

Coming from Northern Ireland myself, I thought it was a great idea to have a book set in good old Belfast. An attempt to change the misconceived idea that Ireland is just a green country filled with leprechauns, terrorists and and endless amount of pubs, it’s part of a new generation of books set in an alternative area to the typical England or America.

When I first looked at the book, I thought to myself, “This is just an Irish version of Gossip Girl.” How very wrong I was! I really love the fact that both the characters and the storyline are extremely believable (and I confess that, as I was reading the book, I found myself placing people I know into the shoes of many of the characters!) All the little local details (such as the Ulster Tatler) add a richness to the storyline which nothing else could replace. Throw in the artfully constructed sentences and the emotional journey taken by most of the characters during the book, and you’ve got yourself a deliciously indulgent read that’ll leave you begging for more.

UK readers can purchase Popular HERE.

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