Published: May 5th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 336 Pages (Hardcover)
In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?
Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?
* I was given an eARC by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *
Material Girls is a quite unique spin on the dystopian genre. It focuses greatly on fashion and a dystopian society in which your life is dictated by the "Tap" and what clothes you are wearing, if they are trendy (prime) or not.
I have to admit that it took me roughly 50-60% of the book to really get into the story and start to actually care about the characters. The beginning of the book features various quite long descriptions of what everybody is wearing and if it follows the current or previous trend. Personally I don't care much about what is currently trendy nor do I really know many of the names for various clothing items which meant that I was just skipping paragraphs as I didn't really care who is wearing what.
The basic idea behind Material Girls, that the big fashion houses, the so called Big Five, rule the market and do with their workers whatever they so want to do, without shying away from drastic measures like drugging you to get you to agree to their agenda, was quite interesting and definitely quite different from the usually governmental oppression which we can find in most dystopian novels. Also it had this very realistic feel to it due to the fact that, thanks to Marla, one of the two protagonists, we got to see "the basement", the place in the fashion house where the designs are created and drawn, which had a very sweatshop like look and feel to it.
Another problem that I had with the story was the naive level it had due to the way it was written and the quite young age of the protagonists, which were merely 16 years old. Also, for me personally, it was quite hard to accept the very shallow way in which people looked at each other, judging each other by their clothes and position. This was very nicely shown by Marla's mother who, when Marla was moved from her position in the Supreme Court (the court that decides which clothing item will be featured in the upcoming line or not) to the basement, wanted to persuade Marla to quick her job all together and wait until she can start a family because that's her fate anyways so might as well do it now instead of working in a shameful position. Also the romance in this book didn't really have any build up, it just happened which I found a bit unnecessary. Personally I think the small romance aspect could have easily been left out.
Marla and Ivy, the two protagonists, were interesting characters in their own way. Marla was more of a creative soul which found herself once she accepted her new path of working in the basement and being part of a group that wanted something more, while Ivy is a Pop Star who slowly starts to realize just how fake and disgusting the entertainment business is in terms of fake relationships, unneeded shopping tours for insane amounts of money and playing the role of someone you are not.
Both of them tried to fight for a better world in which fashion would be more fair and in which the heads of the corporations wouldn't have the power anymore to treat their workers badly.
My last issue thatI had with Material Girls was the ending which felt somewhat rushed and too light and easy for my taste. I would have wished for something more serious and less "happily ever after". Also the ending for Ivy felt very unsatisfying and almost made me feel like I just wasted my time with reading her part of the story because it didn't really lead anywhere in the end. As much as Marla has learned from what has happened over the course of the story, Ivy didn't seem like she learned anything at all. I think that was quite disappointing and sad.
All in all, Material Girls was an entertaining read once you really get into the story and the action starts. One thing you have to be aware of, before going into it, is that fashion is very important in this world so if you are not really into it and don't have much knowledge of it like I do, you might find getting into the story a bit hard. But, if you get past the first 35% of the book you'll be rewarded with more exciting events and fun things. Material Girls is unique in its own way and presents a very "girly" version of the future which, in itself, could show a actually more possible version of our own future.
I give Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos 3 out of 5 Stars.