Thursday, November 18, 2010

VIXEN (The Flappers Series) by Jillian Larkin

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I am very picky about my young adult fiction. I'm always looking for books in this genre that are original and don't speak down to their readers. I was intrigued by this new Flapper series because I loved the idea of looking at the lives of young adults in the 1920's.  It is such a fascinating era of change and liberation, especially for women. 

In the first book of the series, VIXEN, we are introduced to several young flapper wannabes.  Gloria Carmody is a coddled 17-yr-old socialite who is engaged to be married to prominent young bachelor Sebastian Grey.  Gloria is unsure about her life and marriage and starts dabbling in the world of speakeasies.  Her friend, Lorraine Dyer, is envious of Gloria and always seeking to get attention and climb out of Gloria's shadow.  Gloria's cousin, Clara Knowles, arrives to help keep Gloria in check and make sure she marries Sebastian but Gloria has a secret wild flapper past of her own.  These three women get caught up in Chicago's underground world of speakeasies and flappers with mixed results.

I love the use of 1920's slang and detail in the book. Larkin is very good at setting the tone.  She reveals how even 80 years ago, young adults were dealing with the same sorts of issues that we struggle with today.  These women wrestle with sex, alcohol and rock 'n' roll. (only in the form of jazz at this time)  One of my problems with the novel, however, is that the only likeable character is Clara.  Clara is seeking to overcome her past and start over.  She is flawed but genuine. Gloria is just annoying and thoughtless.  Lorraine is a rotten friend and her constant need for attention is tiresome. The men in the book don't fare any better. Sebastian is a jerk.  Gloria's friend Marcus is a spoiled brat. Even Gloria's secret lover comes off as too cliched. The book felt very much to me like a teenaged version of DANGEROUS LIAISONS set in the Roaring 20's.  But it fails to reach any real depth.

*PARENTAL ADVISORY*--The young people in the book are in their late teens and early twenties. They drink heavily, they are disrepectful to their parents, they have illicit sex and smoke like chimneys.  It is naive to think that young people don't struggle with these issues today and I don't think a book should be written off because they depict these things. However, none of the characters seem to really learn anything except for Clara. They just continue on with their irresponsible behaviors.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended with reservations.  I think this series is original but the whole thing fell flat for me.  The characters are wooden and boring and not likeable. However, I would be interested in reading more and seeing how the series develops.

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