The Elite Jennifer Banash Release Date: June 3, 2008 Publisher: Berkley Trade Pages: 256
Rating: 4.5 stars
From the top, you can see everything - except yourself.
When Casey McCloy steps into the elegant Bramford building, she's overwhelmed. Fresh from the Midwest, shes moved to New York's Upper East Side to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark Academy. Here all that matters is who you know. The girl to know is Madison Macallister: popular, pretty, platinum blond. She's not just Casey's new classmate and neighbor; she's an icon. So Casey aims to get in with Madison and her gorgeous gal-pals from the start. As the reigning queen of coolness, Madison is capable of destroying reputations with one well timed whisper. Better to be on her good side.
But after a city-haute makeover from her new frenemy Madison, Casey is wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and meeting the right people,including Drew, the boy-about-town who Madison thinks belongs to her and her alone.
I really enjoyed reading The Elite. It was a lighter read full of drama from the top of the social ladder Upper East Side teen girls. The drama wasn't the over the top and exagerated drama that you see so much of these days, which was certainly entertaining. I loved the alternating chapters between the 5 main characters, reading the story from all the different characters added so much depth and you get to hear their side. Jennifer Banash's writing style really draws readers in as well. I found myself having a hard time putting this one down!
Casey McCloy moves to Manhattan and befriends a group of popular girls at her school. They give her a makeover and she goes around with them. Madison, the leader of the popular group, is semi-dating Drew. When Casey finds herself crushing on Drew, tensions build and everyone decides what they value most in friendship and in any relationship.
The Elite was light and enjoyable. Casey is an easy character to relate to, and everyone else is easily identifiable. Drew was probably my favorite character. He seemed most real to me, and he also seemed most likable. My only knock is that the characters seemed flat and stereotypical, but it was still fun to read, and I would recommend it.
This is like Gossip Girl, but better. Way better. There's none of that "you know you love me. Gossip Girl" thing at all. Which was excellent because that line was really annoying after a while. Anyway, I really liked this book. But I really hate Drew. He's extremely wishy-washy. He doesn't know what he really wants so he keeps changing his mind. One minute, he's in love with Madison and tries to get her jealous. The next, he falls in love with Casey because she's not Madison. I mean, come on, really? Drew was the only person I really disliked. All the other characters were awesome though. Madison seemed like the classy bitch while Casey was the innocent new transfer student. The plot...basically the same as Gossip Girl but better. And...this series is definitely worth your time especially if you like (or kind of like) Gossip Girl.
I actually started the book when I was in New York on vacation, so I guess that was kind of cool that I would be reading about Casey's Central Park adventure, when I was there just a minute ago. As for the book itself, I liked the idea of the outsider trying to fit in. I thought that the words and selfish behaviours of some of the characters seemed so real. I loved the change of perspectives between the characters and you see how things really are despite the way they seem. The only character you could actually relate to (if you lead one of these glamorous lives) is Casey. The outsider who wants to fit in, gets sidetracked by bad advice from a frenemy, and eventually gets the guy because of who she really is. As I was reading this though, I did feel like it seemed a lot like Gossip Girl. Blaire as Madison, Serena as maybe Casey without the fashion problems, and all the hot guys on the show blended into the character of Drew. Anyways, it was a pretty good book for those who love the seduction of New York and all its glamour.
I was expecting to really enjoy this novel because I've heard it is different from the Gossip Girl type novels. While I did enjoy the novel, it wasn't until the last quarter of the novel that I really got into it, sitting up to pay close attention.
The first half of The Elite is slow going with characters being the main focus. I am definitely a character person but the characters weren't moving things forward enough to be considered amazing. In fact, I was bored with the two main characters, Casey and Madison. I wasn't connecting with them at all.
Even though I wasn't really connecting with Casey or Madison, I loved Sophie and Phoebe. I thought they were really compelling characters. I would read whole books about each of them. I hope they get more focus in future books, because for secondary characters, they really stood out and stole the show for me.
Luckily, the last quarter of the book showed me just what Jennifer Banash is capable of and what I hope to see from her in future books. I finally connected with both Casey and Madison. It seemed that it was then their characters really had the chance to shine. I also felt the story moved along at a nice pace as well. I look forward to reading more about this rich (not in the monetary sense of the word either--although they are that, too :-P ) cast of characters in future novels from this series!
Casey McCloy jumped at the chance to see the Big Apple when her mother announced that she was going overseas to do some research for her book. The next thing Casey knows, she is moving in with her grandmother into the luxurious Bramford apartments of Manhatten’s Upper East Side. But can a girl from an all but unheard of town in Illinois fit into the big city and the prestigious Meadowlark Academy, where fashion divas and trendsetters like Madison Macallister rule the scene? I mean, when she first set foot in the Bram and bumped into Madison and her posse, she was instantly labeled a walking fashion violation—apparently Abercrombie isn’t high enough on the fashion food chain to warrant anything but distain from It Girl Madison! So does Casey stand a chance in Meadowlark and NYC?
Although Madison and her ladies seem imposing in their high fashion and expensive heels, Casey thinks she stands a chance to befriend the queen of style and sets out to do just that. Casey is taken out to do some shopping for a make over, but the sky high prices on all the designer brands that are a must for the stars of Meadowlark are completely out of Casey’s range! Luckily, with some unexpectedly generous assistance from Madison, Casey is now ready for her first day at the elite academy! But will a new outfit completely prepare Casey for what she’s about to face? And what is she to do with the hottie, Drew, also known as Madison’s on and off boyfriend, who keeps catching her eye?
Who can Casey trust? Can she really fit into this high-priced society? Can Casey keep up with Madison and her girls, or are they out of her league and only letting her in out of pity?
The Elite is a great start to a new series by Jennifer Banash! It was a bit heavy on the fashion brands and the language is a bit strong (but that’s how it is for many teens nowadays in the US) but the characters all had some very interesting stories to tell. I loved how the point of view switched between the characters so that we could get a bigger picture of their lives. Most of them deal with issues that plenty of teens have and it was nice to get to know more about the others, besides Casey—it definitely helped develop the characters more, and readers will find it easier to understand these dynamic teens! They all had realistic, believable feelings and actions that were wonderfully expressed throughout the novel! It was also great to see down-to-earth Casey shine and show that you don’t need to be rolling in gold to be happy with yourself. There’s more to even the rich and popular kids than all that glitz and glamour they live with! And it would seem that Casey has it easy with just her frizzy-hair problems, after seeing what some of those oh-so-perfect teens have to deal with, behind their sophisticated and happy faÃ§ade…wealth may not necessarily guarantee happiness…