Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Everyone Worth Knowing

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Amazon description:

Bette Robinson is a twentysomething Emory graduate who shunned her parents' hippie ideals in favor of a high-paying yet excruciatingly boring job at a prestigious investment bank. One day, after a particularly condescending exchange with her boss (who sends her daily inspirational e-mails), Bette walks out on her job in a huff. After a few weeks of sleeping late, watching Dr. Phil and entertaining her dog Millington, Bette's uncle scores her a job at an up-and-coming public relations firm, where her entire job seems to revolve around staying out late partying and providing fodder for clandestine gossip columns. What follows is one episode after another of Bette climbing up the social ladder at the expense of her friends, family, and the one guy who actually seems worth pursuing.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I read this book because I liked The Devil Wears Prada by the same author. What I didn’t realize, though, was that the storylines of both novels are pretty much the same: A normal girl gets a fancy, popular job but loses herself along the way. Basically, Everyone Worth Knowing is a Devil-Wears-Prada-replica. But it’s worse. I’m not going to compare everything I criticize in this novel with Lauren Weisberger’s first book since it’s been a while since I read that one, but I remember liking it, so it must have been better than Everyone Worth Knowing.

This book is the opposite of a page-turner – there was no suspense, as there was no real conflict the reader was waiting for the protagonist to resolve, except for Bette not liking her job (or rather, the influence it had on her personal life), which didn’t create any suspense as it was obvious and predictable that (sorry if this spoils it for you!) she was going to quit eventually, just like in The Devil Wears Prada. Bette tried to turn the fact that Ellie Insider wrote about her in her column into this huge problem, even when it was only positive and helped her career, and everything else about the book was just as over-dramatic.

One of the things that annoyed me most was the dialogue – it seemed fake, especially when the author made the characters use ‘fancy’ words (sorry, don’t know what else to call them), even if they were completely out of character for those speaking. That’s not to say I mind those ‘big’ words – I think it’s important to have an eloquent narrator – but it seemed like the author just wanted to add some big words without thinking about how her characters would speak.

Even though the protagonist was fairly relatable (well, not in her sulking phases, where she was just plain annoying), the minor characters were flat, underdeveloped and clichéd; they seemed more like roles (best friend, hippie parents, bitch, fashion-obsessed co-worker, etc.) than like actual people. The parents are supposed to be hippies and feminists, but of course Bette’s mom is the one who cooks and does the housework when Bette comes to visit them. Abby’s character description (as someone who would sell out her own parents to get ahead) was repeated so often I was sick of it by the end of the book.

Sammy’s character was one of the few I actually liked, and the Bette-and-Sammy-romance could even have been cute (albeit clichéd), had it been developed and described properly – at first Bette absolutely hates Sammy and right afterwards she has a huge crush on him, without any sort of explanation.

(This next paragraph contains spoilers!)
Another thing that wasn’t explained properly was why Elisa sold out information about Bette to Ellie Insider. I understand why she would stab Bette in the back (she’s jealous of Bette because Kelly, the boss, put Bette in charge instead of Elisa, and because of Phillip), but giving Bette more media attention made no sense whatsoever – Kelly was delighted by the publicity!

I’m giving this book two stars instead of one only because the main idea could have been fun, had it not been the exact same one as Lauren Weisberger’s first novel’s. Other than that, I only have negative comments on the book. Read The Devil Wears Prada instead!


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