Book Review: Summer and the City

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I just finished Candace Bushnell's Summer and the City, the sequel to her prequel The Carrie Diaries, which I received as a birthday present last year. This novel follows Carrie Bradshaw (protagonist of the oh-so-popular TV show "Sex and the City") as she spends the summer in New York before her freshman year at Brown.

As Carrie attends a writing workshop, she lives in Samantha Jones' apartment, since Samantha is too preoccupied with her fiance Charlie at his place (any SATC viewer knows this engagement won't last a second). Soon she meets Miranda Hobbes, the romantically disillusioned pro-life activist/feminist. Carrie gets carried away (pun intended) by all that NYC has to offer: shopping, parties, men, and the promise of a brighter future.

Unfortunately, as much as I loved Carrie in the TV show, she's a pretty obnoxious 17-year-old in this book. She was pretty immature and naive in The Carrie Diaries, but it's obvious she hasn't grown a bit. In fact, with a newly stroked ego when it comes to her writing abilities, she's downright pompous.

She foolishly gets involved with a recently-divorced 30-something playwright named Bernard Singer. Bernard just wants a little sex pet, but Carrie believes he's "The One" and proceeds to lie about her age, call him every 30 minutes, and make a complete joke out of herself.

There are blatant inconsistencies between the books and the show, mainly about Carrie's de-virginization story. But when the climax of a novel coincides with a character's first climax, you know there's not much substance. Technically, this book's considered young-adult, but I worry that teenage girls are going to get the wrong ideas about love and life.

Carrie and her friends were horrible role models when they were young (and many would argue, even in their 30's), so read this story for entertainment, not instructional, purposes. Don't believe everything people say, don't have sex out of peer pressure, and DON'T drop out of school for a life in a big city thinking you can rely on sheer willpower. Trust me, get an education and a job--the big city will still be there when you've gained some experience.

So unless you're a hardcore "Sex and the City" fan, pass this book up. Carrie's just a self-centered, misguided twit, and there's too many novels out there with more worthy female leads. I'm about to start Crossed, the sequel to Ally Condie's Matched, so I hope main character Cassia proves stronger and smarter than miss Carrie Bradshaw.

Book Review: The Carrie Diaries

Rating: 4 out of 5

This review is thanks to one of my best friends, who gave me this prequel to Sex and the City for my birthday. The book, written by Candace Bushnell and published April of last year, describes the teenage life of Carrie Bradshaw and her friends at Castlebury High in Connecticut.

I love the show "Sex and the City" and frequently get sucked into marathons on TV, so this was the perfect gift. I was a little disappointed that Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte don't make appearances, but I knew that they didn't know each other in high school (not to mention, Samantha is much older than the others). Thus, I jumped into the book to learn more about Carrie and her first steps to becoming the sassy sex-columnist in New York whom fans adore.

The story follows Carrie's struggles with her friends, relatives, and--of course--boys. She falls head over heels for new guy Sebastian Kydd, but unfortunately so does every other girl, including queen bee Donna LaDonna and bitchy frenemy Lali.

(Yes, one of the book's weaknesses is its outrageous character names. One of Carrie's friends is just referred to as 'The Mouse' with little explanation as to why. I just tried to ignore it.)

The plot was pretty predictable, but then again, most young adult novels are. But what I loved about this prequel was how realistic it was. Sure, all their smoking, underage drinking, and sleeping around was frustrating--and not reflective of my own high school experiences--but all their antics were believable. And the back-stabbing, rumor-milling, and clique-hopping was exactly how I remembered it when I was a senior myself five years ago.

The shining star, though, is Carrie's witty insight. She's actually quite smart and mature for her age, and although she gets fooled by the people around her, she reflects on her life with humor and charm. She still has a lot to learn about dating and making friends, but as the reader, you feel like she'll catch on pretty quickly. Her determination to become a writer no matter what anyone says is something I can connect to, and I kept cheering her on the entire way because I know exactly where she'll end up!

This book won't be as appealing to people unfamiliar with "Sex and the City," but if you're a fanatic like me, this is a light-hearted, entertaining read. I'll definitely buy its sequel Summer and the City soon!