Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vixen


It's a new year for me.  I am always introspective on this day every year... the day after my birthday.  Here I am with a chance at a brand new start - my own personal New Years Day - so I take stock, give myself an assessment and make plans to be better, do better.  My own personal challenge to live each day better than I lived the one before it, to find balance in all things, to be kind but not at the expense of my well-being, and to celebrate life.  Hmmm... but first a double-shot latte to get me going on my way.  Cheers to that!
And cheers to the Young Adult (YA) ARC, Vixen.  Back in late October, I was selected to be in the B&N First Look YA Book Club.  I received an ARC for the purpose of an unbiased review.  No worries there - I've got lots to say...
Vixen is historical young adult fiction set in the roaring twenties with speakeasies, flappers, bootlegged booze, gangsters and socialites. There is so much to grab the reader in this debut novel by author Jillian Larkin, I recommend the book to anyone who gravitates to either historical fiction or young adult genres. You can’t go wrong, either way.
Vixen (The Flappers)The plot is divided into three distinct storylines, each focusing on a different girl: Gloria, the newly engaged socialite; Clara, Gloria's cousin with a dark past; and Lorraine, the best friend cast in Gloria’s shadow. The chapters switch between the points of view of the three girls which keep the story moving but may be confusing to younger readers.
Through the three separate paths of the girls, we watch as the teens assert themselves by walking the line of acceptable behavior to try to gain their independence and freedom. The overall message of Vixen seems to be “the only thing that matters is pleasing yourself” which is quite the opposite of the philosophy parents hope to impart in their children. The characters are selfish, manipulative, arrogant, pompous and cruel to some extent. Violence, sexual innuendo, and drunken behavior fill the story with drama that keeps a quick pace for the reader.
The book covers the gamut of controversial topics; i.e. prohibition, corrupt politicians, adultery, deceit, interracial relationships and injustice, pre-marital relations and pregnancy, the mob and its corruption. Foolish decisions, a tiny glimmer of innocence and misguided choices surround the three girls as they find paths of discovery which are woven with danger. While I found their behavior too extreme for the typical teen, even in the days of flappers, the storyline held my interest and this same behavior made the book that much more interesting. However, with that said, there is too much alcohol, sex, cigarettes and other elicit behavior for the younger teen readers. THIS IS MY WARNING, PARENTS: Read this book first and have a conversation with your young reader. There are good discussions to be had on topics introduced in the book but left unaddressed, young readers could get a wrong message about acceptable behaviors.
Vixen is a solid debut novel, and definitely a strong beginning to The Flapper Series. Since the book ends on a cliff hanger with several questions left unanswered, the author makes it impossible for the reader not to rush out and buy the next one as soon as it is published. Watch for book two, Ingénue to come out in 2011.

Rating: 3 chocolate dipped strawberries
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