Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 5th 2015
Pages: 336
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

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?


This is kind of a hard one to review, because there were some things I really enjoyed, but then some other things I really didn’t quite understand. Or maybe I didn’t care? I don’t know.

Also. We need to discuss the cover. There was another cover, and I don’t know if it is being used anywhere (like, foreign editions) or if it is gone forever. I also can’t decide which I like more, because I like them both, for different reasons, and they both fit the story. HEY, let’s do a poll!



Which do we like better?

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Oh yes, the book, the reason we’re here. So, there were quite a few things that I enjoyed about this book. Things like:

  •  The main characters are very well written, and give incredible perspectives into their industries. Marla works in the fashion designing world, and Ivy is a huge pop star who wears aforementioned fashion, thus connecting the two. In a society where you’re a has-been by the time you hit 20, it’s interesting to see how these girls grapple with the inevitable decline of their careers at an age when we can’t even fathom having careers.
  • Obviously, it seems ridiculous to us to be putting twelve year olds to work, but the way it’s portrayed in this society is frighteningly realistic. The “taps” are basically kids who were tapped to work in the entertainment industry based on evaluations of work they submit. If you’re not tapped, you go to school and get a “crappy” job, like a doctor or teacher or something. To me, this spoke volumes as to how our culture really does act. There is such a value put on youth and entertainment, while people who work in much needed service industries are neglected and underpaid.
  • I love how we’re shown the dark sides of being a “tap”. It isn’t all just glamour and fabulousness, there is a lot going on behind closed doors that is just plain messed up. I imagine some of the things that Ivy and Marla go through are not too far off from some of what happens in today’s entertainment industry, and that part is quite fascinating.
  • The decisions the girls had to make were quite compelling. Both girls had to decide for themselves what they wanted out of life, whether the prestige of being a tap was worth the nonsense they had to (and will have to) put up with. It wasn’t easy, since there were all kinds of pressure from families, peers, and superiors. And then things get much, much more serious and the girls have to make decisions that will impact not only their lives, but the lives of a lot of people around them.
  • Speaking of friends and family, some of them were kind of great. I loved the storyline that surrounded Ivy’s family and her industry friends. Marla’s family, especially her mother, made me kind of insane and infuriated. Some of her industry friends were kind of fabulous too, but that all comes later in the book so you’ll have to just take my word for it.

The things I wasn’t so fond of:

  • Some of the more technical fashion stuff, I just didn’t understand or care about. Talking about trends or a dress or something was fine, but there were a lot of details into the fashion. Which is fine, if you are really into fashion, but I started to get a bit bored with those parts. Like, I really don’t care how patterns for clothes are made or whatever, so I kind of zoned out.
  • The world building just wasn’t enough for me. I mean, we knew what was happening in… wherever this was supposed to take place. But how did society get to this point? What was happening in the rest of the world (or country or whatever)? It was set in a place that I assumed to be almost like Hollywood, but again, I have no idea. Was it America? What was everyone who was not in this area doing? Again, confused.
  • The romantic elements didn’t do it for me. I think it was clear from pretty close to the beginning who the romantic interest was going to be, but I just didn’t feel it. When the time came, I was underwhelmed, though I liked both characters. I just didn’t feel like there was enough of a connection between them to justify a romance, really. It seemed unnecessary, really.
  • The pacing was a little off at times. Some parts moved quite slow, but then the ending seemed to move really fast. A bit more moderation would have been appreciated.

Bottom Line: I liked the messages that the book was trying to give. I think it was subtle in places, not so subtle in others, but very well done. I think with a bit more explanation, it would have led to more believability and a bit of a deeper connection, but overall I liked it.


Do you think you’d want to work in this society’s entertainment industry? To be tapped at 12 and work for a few years in luxury, but have your career peak in your teens?

Posted April 29, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review , / 20 Comments

20 responses to “Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

  1. First of all, for the cover, I think I prefer the green one. The first one has a nice magazine-feel to it, but the fonts for the subtitle and author’s name are tacky as hell.

    As for the actual book, it seems like the best parts are the ones related to the industry the girls are in. I always love having an insider’s look to these sort of things, especially the darker parts of them, so that’s exciting. Based on the synopsis, it does sound like the romance is completely unnecessary and would just take away from the whole point of the book.

    (Since I am somewhat a shallow person, I would love to have started working early if I knew that I’d become popular, lol. But on a more serious note, I would probably fail at everything and go back to school.)

    Lovely review, Shannon! I’m glad you ended up enjoying this for the most part. 🙂

    • See, I agree with the tacky vibe BUT- since the story is kind of about how ridiculous fashion is… it almost works better?

      I would totally be the “failure” in school! No question. And I would be jealous of ALL the tapped kids 😉

  2. I actually like the green cover more than the yellow one with the model! Haha. There is a feel of symbolism to it that I appreciate 🙂

    As for this book, I’m actually tempted to try it out for the positives you have mentioned, because it talks about certain problems and issues in the fashion industry that I think needs to have some light shed on!

    • I still can’t decide! I like them both. The green one is “better”, in general, but the yellow one pops!

      I DO think it is worth reading, and I am glad I did read it. I just wish there were a few things that had been improved upon, because honestly, this one could have been PHENOMENAL. The subject matter was there, there characters were there, and it really could have been more than just decent. But hey, at least it was decent, right? 😉

  3. I definitely prefer the green cover more than the yellow one. This one has been on my TBR for a while. But I would probably find the lack of world building a bit annoying. Eh, I will probably still read it, mainly for all the positive ones that you mentioned.

    • I mean, some people LOOOOVED this book, and didn’t mind the vagueness at all. And the messages were pretty freaking fabulous. It just could have been like, AMAZING and ended up just being decent. I would still give it a try though!

      And I still don’t know which stupid cover I like better, because they both work!

  4. I actually won an ARC from Goodreads and it has the yellow cover, so it does exist 🙂

    It sounds really interesting, but I’m not sure that I’ll care about the technical fashion things either, and I’m a little nervous about the lack of world building and the not so great romance :/

  5. I think I like the yellow cover better, I love how it looks like a magazine, it’s different from other covers 😀
    While the book does sound interesting, I might not pick it up, I can’t stand books with no world building or bad romance 😛

    • That was what I liked about the yellow too! And the world building is rough. Luckily, the romance isn’t a huge aspect in it, but it didn’t need to be there at all. It isn’t really awful, but it just isn’t really anything. That time could have been used for world building or something!

  6. I liked the yellow cover better actually. It’s a shame that it didn’t build it’s world very well, but still glad that you managed to like it.

  7. I prefer the yellow cover better although the font is annoying with me, the cover change isn’t that bad at all though – atleast you gave this book a try. Wonderful review Shannon 🙂

  8. I oddly like the sound of this entertainment industry so I’m going to say yes to your question. Also, about the covers, I prefer the green one but at the same time it reminds way more of the Hilary Duff Material Girls movie than the other possibly nonexistent cover.

    This book sounds…interesting but I think I’d have trouble getting into this one, I don’t know why but that’s what I think. Also, I hate unneeded romance, it’s like authors just throw it in because they think YA has to have romance, it doesn’t!

  9. I like the new cover a ton. I think it drives the materialistic/look perfect blah society aspect home perfectly.

    Crap! I would have been a has been three years ago? Darn!

    This book sounds so fascinating, I love this society they’ve “made up” and how…dark it is and materialistic. It reminds me of The Capitol people in The Hunger Games except more so.

    I’ve heard the world building is lacking. 🙁 That’s so disappointing. Hmm, I think I’d prefer this without romance (given the topic), but that’s so not a big deal. I’m going to check this out! It’s probably better as a “borrowed” book than a purpose one, yeah? Just wondering if I want to (blindly) add a(nother) book to my “buy” list. Great review. Sometimes just listing things out and going into detail is the perfect way to review.

    I don’t think I COULD work in this society, haha. I imagine they have high standards or something….Ahem, but no, I wouldn’t want to work in fashion for a few years and then let that time in my teens be my golden years. Though, with some sports like ice skating, I’ve heard careers are generally done with by the time your 30, so I don’t know. It depends.

    • I would have been a has-been…. well not in this decade, that’s for sure 😉 And yeah, the romance isn’t like, a deal breaker or anything, because it isn’t a HUGE topic in the book, I just wish it could have been scrapped for some better world building! Because I think that could have taken this book from decent to magnificent.

      Also, I worry quite often that my teens WERE my golden years, so maybe I do live in that society 😉

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