Release: September 1, 2010
Parker Bell has been waiting her whole life for eight grade -- she's finally at the very top of the populadder at Wallingford Academy and her Facebook Friend count has never been higher. A second generation Wally (what most people call an "Aristobrat"), Parker is determined to use her status to champion the underpopular. But when Parker and her three best friends are mysteriously assigned to produce the highly academic (and seriously bleh) webcast, she watches in horror as their spot on the populadder plummets.
The girls will whatever it takes to save their reputations, even if it means masterminding a plan to get kicked off the project. But when their predicament gets even worse, they just might realize that true friendship means more than status.
Review: Fresh, fabulous, and a completely cute middle-grade novel.
Parker Bell is nice, popular, driven and totally on top this year. Until, that is, she ends up having to deal with home issues, crush issues, and as well as the responsibility of running the school's webcast. Her three friends are each spunky and definitely their own characters. Kiki is fashion-conscious, trend-setting, and always concerned about finding her better side. Plum is the artist, with an amusing personality that kept me laughing. Ikea (that's pronounced I-kay-a, for your information) is the smart one, who's definitely feeling the pressure from her dad to make it into Yale when she's older, as well as being one of the very few African American's at her school.
The story is fun to follow, and it's nice to see a group of girls committed to being the nice popular girls. Not that these girls are always nice, but as a whole, they are pretty sweet. With each new dramatic issue (this is middle school, after all), the girls have to figure out a way to the top.
Highlights: Friendship is the obvious motif, and it's a great theme to have. The school the girls go to is very high tech, thanks to Fitz Orion, a computer mogul. There are "Spy Feeds", where you can watch any class you want and check up on people. I thought that just so completely cool, and definitely different from other things I've read.
Lowlights: Sometimes all of the slang can get a bit tedious to remember and deal with (even with the guide in the back). The narrative also shifts sometimes from mainly Parker (3rd person), to the other three girls for very brief moments. It would have been nice to see more from the other girls, instead of small snippets. The story itself didn't really get going until later, but I'd say this one is still an enjoyable novel for younger readers.