Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow

Release date: February 25, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 382
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

The Secret Diamond Sisters is definitely a book I would've loved in middle school and in early high school. At the time, I read a lot of books like The Clique and Gossip Girl. They're the kinds of books that are very much about wish-fulfillment for teenage girls and are so fun to read, but leave a very small mark behind. That's fine, and that's just the kind of read I need sometimes. That's exactly what The Secret Diamond Sisters is. The only thing is, though, that I'm older now. Even my high-fluff books seem to have less fluff than those books, and it's hard for my older self to read them without wanting to slap a little sense into the characters and start to scoff at what they say and think.

Peyton, Courtney, and Savannah Diamond have had difficult lives. Their father is not around, their mother is an alcoholic who'd rather spend their rent money on cheap booze, and they basically have to support themselves. So, when the tables drastically turn one day and the sisters are whisked off to Las Vegas and learn that their father is one of the richest men in America, they've got a lot to adjust to. And even as they try to cling to the roots of who they are and where they came from, the glamour and sparkle of Vegas can't help but call to them, pulling each girl towards intrigue, romance, and more secrets than they could imagine.

So, even though I think The Secret Diamond Sisters definitely skews towards the younger edge of YA, it's still a fun read. I mean, it's hard to read about the glitz of Las Vegas--where I have never been--and not be intrigued by the location and find some kind of enjoyment in the glamour of the uber-rich. It's appeal to me lies all in wish-fulfillment and getting some kind of view of a place I've never experienced, as I imagine is the case for a lot of teenagers who'd also be reading this.

But here's another problem, there's so little plot in this book that I found myself wondering, when I noticed I had 30 pages or so left, what exactly the point of the book was. The book basically starts with the girls learning about their father and heading to Vegas, but once they get there they do nothing but go to clubs, eat, and ache over boys. They shop once, and there's a hotel grand opening. Woo. But there's not rising action, no climax, nothing to keep you in your seat reading page after page so you can know what happens next. I never had a problem putting the book down in the middle of a chapter, in the middle of a page, heck, even in the middle of a sentence.

And this isn't to mention that most of what the characters do is kind of unlikable. The only characters I could say I remotely liked were Courtney and Brett. But Peyton cheats on her boyfriends and feels no guilt over that, then makes a bet with a guy about her sister. Savannah actually sticks to her guns in not sleeping with a guy but then kind of convinces herself she should have, and takes the advice from her friend that she should string along two guys until she could decide which she likes better. This doesn't even include the scheming of Madison, Oliver, and Damien.

When I picked up The Secret Diamond Sisters, I expected something that I'd be able to get lost in reading, enjoying a story because it's fun. And while I think that would be entirely possible for someone in middle school, it just wasn't for me. Most of us can't live lives that revolve around which boy we like that day, so it's hard to sympathize with characters who do--not to mention boring.

About the author:

Michelle Madow wrote her first novel, Remembrance, in her junior year of college. Remembrance is the first book in the Transcend Time Saga, a three part series about reincarnation and true love that Michelle successfully self-published. The series was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. Michelle's upcoming YA trilogy, The Secret Diamond Sisters, about three sisters who discover they are the secret heirs to a Las Vegas billionaire casino owner will be published by Harlequin TEEN in Spring 2014.

Michelle graduated from Rollins College in 2010, cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. She received the Charles Hyde Pratt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing in 2010.

She lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is writing more novels for young adults. She loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling, shopping, sunshine, Disney fairy tales, Broadway musicals, and spends way too much time on Facebook and Twitter (@MichelleMadow).

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