Joint Review: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale | Weaving Pages: Joint Review: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale

Monday, 21 July 2014

Joint Review: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale

Hello Everyone!

The lovely Arianne who co-blogs over at Reading With ABC agreed to do a joint review with me, because she is awesome and decided she could put up with me for a bit. ;) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this review! I'm in Blue and Arianne is in Red.

18665259Rita: How would you sum up Picture Perfect in one word?

Arianne: RESPLENDENT. (It sounds like something Harriet would say, so I think it's fitting.) 

What about you?

I HAVE LITERALLY HAD TO GO GET A DICTIONARY. I understand what it means now. Hmm, I'd say it was A-MIX-OF-LAUGHTER-AND-EMOTIONAL-TURMOIL. Yep. One word. Just one.

How would you describe the Geek Girl books for someone who's never read them before?

I would describe the Geek Girl books as a spontaneously perfect orchestra of laughter and reader investment. Seriously. You get so invested that my feelings were in knots throughout Picture Perfect especially. I do think that PP was much more emotional than the last two, which I think we're more laughy.. (Not a word...) How about you??

Teenage girl is a geek. Girl is spotted by a modelling agency. Girl has adventures in spectacular cities but not before resorting to hiding under table. Under said table, girl meets gorgeous boy named Nick Hidaka. Girl spends most of her time trying not to fall over on catwalks. Girl's writer then WRINGS OUT YOUR HEART LIKE A CLOTH FOR THE NEXT THREE BOOKS.


What was your favourite thing (NO SPOILERS) about Picture Perfect??

Nick. He will never not be my favourite thing about this series. And this line: "The boy smells of oranges. That's just weird."

(For anyone who has read the book, I'm also quite partial to the text sent on page 407.)

What about you, Rita? Did you have a favourite part? (I figure you've gone to remind yourself of the text on page 407, so feel free to take your time.) 

Ahaha!! My favourite thing? Probably how Holly Smale manages to make a family so perfect just because they are loving, awkward and at times, slightly dysfunctional. 

Harriet's got a great support network, especially in her parents - and what makes them even better is that they're actually not a 'picture perfect' family. They're constantly frazzled, they misunderstand each other, they don't always pay attention when they should, but they come through for each other in the end and that's what counts. (Sahmeless self-promotion: I actually name-dropped Harriet's dad and stepmum as examples of 'present' parents in YA in a recent discussion. They don't get everything right, but they take a very active role in the books.)

Is there anything else from Picture Perfect you'd like to see more of in YA?

Hmm.. Actually what I quite like is the fact that the Geek Girl series is a sort of semi-autobiography!! It's really interesting because you know parts of it are based on things that happened in real life to the author, which also makes you feel more connected, kind of? :) I quite like it when biographies are like stories, even though I don't read many! What about you??

Also, how much did you laugh reading Picture Perfect compared to the last two??

I think the trend for semi-autobiographical YA is really starting to pick up - just look at the articles promoting Solitaire by Alice Oseman and the myriad books being published by famous Youtubers and you'll see that! But I also like that Picture Perfect is memorable, because it's fearless and stands out from the crowd.

I think I laughed more reading the first Geek Girl book because Harriet's voice was so different and unexpected back then, but Picture Perfect came pretty close! This time around, I didn't enjoy her habit of spouting facts and figures so much - it's as if she's hiding behind general knowledge but hasn't found her true love yet. I think that's going to play a big role in future books. Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

I agree completely with it standing out. The topic of Youtubers publishing books is an interesting one, but that's a discussion for another day!

I felt that too! I see what you mean about the facts, but I still enjoy them anyway! I did feel that Picture Perfect was much more emotional than  the last two, which I felt focused more on the humour. PP was where I think everything started to crash down on Harriet, and she really felt the effects. I think we saw another side of her, and I liked that.


What did you think of all the new characters, as well as the ones that came back??

CALEB IS HIDEOUS. That is all.

As for the other new characters, I hated Kenderall! Not in a 'it ruined the book for me' way, but in a 'this author is seriously good if she can provoke such a strong reaction' way - if that makes sense! Picture Perfect sees Harriet subjected to quite a lot of peer pressure, and despite her characteristic intellect, she's just not equipped to recognise it. I think that was a very realistic storytelling decision by Holly Smale, even if the reader could spot what has happening to Harriet from a mile away! What did you think of Kenderall, Fleur and the new characters?

Yes!! I was really unsure about Kenderall.. I LOATHED the pressure that she was putting on Harriet and the things that were happening because of that. I just wanted to grab Harriet and refuse to let her do any of those things Kenderall told her to do. Peer Pressure is a very real thing, and like you, I'm glad Holly Smale drew attention to that. On the other hand, I felt bad for Kenderall because by the end I had realised, like Harriet, that she didn't know any better and I felt really sorry for her... Fleur is a similar matter. At first, I was so confused as to what was happening, and I started to get annoyed in return. Then I got to the end of the book and this crushing sense of reality hit meabout what was really going on... it was kind of devastating. I HATED, HATED, seeing her like that, and I hated even more the industry that had caused that to happen in the first place. Harriet really is lucky to have had Yuka..

The Geek Girl series takes very real issues like bullying and peer pressure and shows that they can affect anyone, anywhere, from the classroom to the catwalk. That's such an important message for young readers, but Geek Girl isn't preachy - it's still an adventure, an escape, with themes that are explored, but not overwhelming. It's UKYA storytelling at its best.

This is why I think this series is so important. It's easy to fall under the illusion that people in the eye of the media, such as models, are almost not human in the way that they escape the horrible aspects of everyday life. It's easy to get caught up in the dream of having a perfect life like theirs. Nothing is ever perfect, because perfection is always tainted by the darkest of colours. The Geek Girl series shows you that even the people who seem to have an immaculate life might be going through more hardships than you could guess, regardless of whether they are being constantly photographed or not. Harriet serves as a reminder that the best thing you can have is the love given by others and yourself. :) 

I hope you enjoyed this review! Me and Arianne really enjoyed writing it together, so hopefully we'll do it again sometimes!

Bye! xx

rita xo

1 comment:

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