February 14, 2013

Review: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Title: The Carrie Diaries (The Carrie Diaries #1)
Release Date: April 27th, 2010
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Page Count: 389
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: ★★★☆
Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

I read this one as part of a Read-Along I did on the blog with Harley Bear Book Blog. There's a giveaway involved that's still going on (SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST), so if you follow me on Twitter or via GFC, you can ENTER and possibly win a book that inspired a TV show. Read this, enter that and leave my blog a happy camper, would ya?

Let's break this down:

Even at 17 years old Carrie Bradshaw is a stunning character to read about. She complex and full of just about everything that makes a teen a teen. It is because of this (and because I will love Carrie Bradshaw at every age, from birth until death do us part) I truly enjoyed reading the Carrie Diaries.

And I don't think this book is worth reading just for Carrie. I also really loved Walt, The Mouse. Geroge and Donna LaDonna. Yes, I know, Donna LaDonna is kind of the enemy in all of this, but I find her character really compelling and, given the way the book ends, entirely wonderful in her own way. But aside from Donna, I want to hang out with George, giggle with The Mouse and cuddle up to George. Lali, Maggie and Sebastian can go elsewhere for all I care. I mean, to be honest, I'm not even sure why Carrie has anything to do with those three, which is kind of depressing since they ARE secondary characters and all...

Carrie's family can also go elsewhere. I mean, Carrie's dad may be a single father, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone describe a more confused human being ever. He's very flip floppy and doesn't sound much like a person who can keep a goldfish alive, let alone himself and three girls. Missy, one of Carrie's sister's, is just kind of there and does nothing. And Dorrit, well, I want more from her. I know it's there and I want it.

But I think what irks me most about Carrie's family is that for some reason, given her mother's death, Carrie becomes a parental figure. I know, it's pretty common, it happens, blah, blah, blah, but it's not something that's really explored in the book. You just kind of see Carrie stepping into the role without a single thought spent explaining or describing or anything. You'd think since it's her "diary" you'd get more from Carrie about this, but you don't and so it feels kind of thin.

I'll tell you what doesn't feel thin though: Carrie's devotion to writing. I like that the plot revolves around Carrie's desire to get into the New School's summer writing program. It really shows the foundations for future Carrie Bradshaw, which is awesome, because the whole point of this book for me is to see how fabulous Carrie Bradshaw got so fabulous.

Characters and foundation aside, I think this book falls a little flat for me for a couple of reasons. First of all, there's a lot of smoking and drink. Now, I know it's the 80s and I know this can exist in YA, but I mostly just felt like this was a watered-down version of Sex and the City and not a YA version. As we all know, watered-down does not equal YA and as such I was kind of disappointed.

Second of all, the story just kind of is. As much as I want to know more about THE Carrie Bradshaw (and we do find out more), the book reads kind of like a history book, which isn't so great.

And finally, since all good lists have at least three items, sometimes Carrie is just a wee bit whiny and ridiculous. Which is very teenager-y of her, but still totally annoying and UGH just STOP already, would you?

The long and short of it?

Plot: Nothing really seems to happen, unfortunately. All of the little dramas don't really focus the plot at all.
World Building: That is what the 80s looked like, to the best of my knowledge - for better or for worse.
Character Development: Some are awesome, some are kind of meh and disappointing. I pretend like the latter don't exist because Carrie is an icon and I love her growth.
Prose: Choppy and flat.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like Sex and the City, go grab it from the library. Otherwise, it's probably not worth your time.

Are you watching the show? Are you reading the book? Be sure to tell me all about it in the comments below!

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  1. I've read this one before, but unfortunately, I really don't remember much about it. I think I was expecting something different from it, particularly story-wise, and it failed to deliver for me.

    1. I definitely hear what you're thinking. It's just not what I wanted it to be. It wasn't bad for what it was though. *shrugs*

  2. This is the book that put everything in place for Sex and the City. How Carrie got to be in the New York and how she met everyone. It is a must read book.
    r rated ted doll


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