Review: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Point (an imprint of Scholastic)
Genre: contemporary young adult, chick lit, humor
Format/Source: Hardcover, my own copy
Status: Standalone novel (a rarity!)
Summary:
Don't mess with a girl with a great personality!

Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it
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Review:
If I could give Elizabeth Eulberg more than 5 stars for this masterpiece, I would. I fell in love with Elizabeth's writing when I stumbled upon The Lonely Hearts Club two years ago, and it's been a steady love ever since with solid stories from Prom & Prejudice and Take a Bow, but I think Revenge is the book that proves how savvy and brilliant a writer she really is.

First, let's talk title. I had the privelege of meeting Elizabeth last year while on tour for Take a Bow. I asked what was in the works and she told me it was a novel called Revenge of the  Girl with the Great Personality. She didn't give away any other hints, which was disappointing, but with a title like THAT, I knew I'd be reading it asap. A popular trend in YA fiction right now is cool but vague one-word titles. I love Twilight, Divergent, Delirium, Evernight, Everneath, Silence, Unearthly, Fallen, Shiver, Matched, Marked, Graceling, etc. as much as the next die-hard ya lover out there. But honestly, sometimes I want a title that tells me about the book BEFORE I open it and have to figure out why the title is significant. [aside: Sure, I'm actually using the word 'revenge' as a placement holder in my own review, but that's actually a common practice in literary critique and YES, I do not want to spend all night typing out Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality or even c/p. I'd rather talk about how awesome this book is.] Anyway, the awesome thing about this title is that BOOM. Right off the bat, I know exactly what the book is about. I didn't need Elizabeth to spell it out for me. There's a girl with a great personality and she's getting revenge. About what? The title doesn't say! Well, look, I'm a girl. I know exactly what the tag "great personality" implies in current society. I asked a male friend today and he said, "basically everything else sucks about her." Why is having a great personality a bad thing? When did that happen? When did we let it happen? WHY did we let it happen? Well, kudos to Elizabeth Eulberg who stood up for great personalities everywhere and said, "I'm taking this phrase back, thankyouverymuch!" Booyah, sister, and more power to you!

Lexi. Oh, Lexi, you minx, you! As I was reading Revenge, I kept having recurring thoughts along the lines of "FINALLY, someone gets it!" I lovelovelove contemporary ya, but sometimes it all runs together in a hot swirly mess of girls with "average" looks, low self-esteem, and unrequited crushes. Honestly, Lexi has all three of these traits...sorta. She thinks herself average-looking (as do pretty much everybody in her school), she has very low confidence, thanks to weekends spent at pageants, and she loves Logan, the unattainable and unavailable golden boy. But Lexi actually uses the one thing that we've all got that those other contemporary ya heroines forget about: her brain. Lexi has so much common sense that I almost don't know what to do about her. At first she and Benny try to one-up each other as they conquer their fears, but I could have DIED for joy when she said the words, "I think we both need to start doing things because we should be doing them." I did a happy dance in my mind. Dear goodness, Lexi (and by default, Elizabeth Eulberg), YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT. It's about dang time we took this philosophy. Lexi has great sensibilities. She already applies this thought to her eating habits and her education. I think it's fan-freaking-tastic that she put 1 and 1 together and got 2 = her social life! Brava!

Supporting characters: Mom: sucks. Hands up if all you could imagine was Honey Boo Boo's mom. I know I did! The tension between her and Lexi was amazing, but it made me so anxious! I'm so glad my mama is my mama and not some crazy pageant mom. Mac: adorable when not in pageant mode. I like to think that by the end Lexi was rubbing off on her sister in a positive manner. I shudder to think of Mac's life after Lexi leaves for school, but luckily, that won't be for another...17-ish months. Benny: I like that he emboldens Lexi. They're good for each other. Cam: more difficult. Look, I'm gonna tell you a secret that you don't want to hear but you need to hear: when you are in a relationship, you are not going to be able to maintain the same level of attention with your friends as before. Sad, but true. You have a person to whom you do need to devote more time and energy. Your friendships will, by necessity, evolve. This is NOT a bad thing. It's a growing-up thing. Lexi never stopped eating with her friends. I hated that Cam was in such a tizzy over Taylor and Chris sitting with the trio at their table. Change is scary, but it's life. Ugh. That was not a good moment for me and one of my bigger complaints. Taylor: seemingly the perfect guy. He's funny, he's sweet, he's accepting, he watches McGyver. What's not to like? (Also, possibly named after Tim Riggins and the man who played him, Taylor Kitsch...?) Logan: seemingly...also the perfect guy? Seems too good to be true for a ya novel, but I went with it. High school actually is not divided into 1 perfect guy + 1 perfect girl + everybody else. Logan was another not-good moment for me. See complaints. Alyssa: blandly pretty pageant girl. I say bland because she's just not really an important character. Brooke: Mean Girl. 'Nuff said. She got hers in one of the best tell-offs I think I've ever read. Dad: sucks. Parents, right? They're just not at their best with fictional teen characters unless they're named Lorelai Gilmore and even then a couple of seasons were not so good.

The actual story is fun and amusing. It's high school life, pageant madness, family drama, boy drama, all rolled into one. I'd say this is Mean Girls + Sixteen Candles + Pretty in Pink x Toddlers & Tiaras. Characters, plot, pacing, brilliant flashes of undestanding by the heroine....Revenge has got it all! The final confrontation (the BIG one) was a little cray, but hey, sometimes you have to do something truly drastic to force someone to listen.

Complaints: Again, Cam's psycho moment when she freaked out over change frustrated me. It's understandable, but it's not like Lexi was ignoring her (aside from that one time she actually DID ignore Cam, but there were bigger issues at stake like her mom being a complete horror story). It seemed to me Lexi actually maintained one of the best life-to-boyfriend balances I've ever seen. For a first relationship, this was impressive. And then Logan. *sigh* Logan is, by far, the biggest disappointment I have with Revenge. He was such a good guy (and MAD props to Elizabeth for that comparison between good guys and girls with great personalities!!!), and then he was ruined! Look, I started shipping Taylexi too as soon as I realized Taylor was a good guy. Plus Taylexi sounds cooler than L2 or whatever. But just cause suddenly I was on Team Taylor didn't mean I wanted Logan to suddenly become a giant drunk tool of a high school jock cliche! :( BUT Logan's descent into madness brought about another brilliant Lexi realization on page 258 about a certain basketball/dating term....

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is a novel I would and will recommend to everyone. It's so complete. It's well rounded. It's like...well, a girl with a great personality! Lexi is a phenomenal character. I had visions of iconic female characters like Elizabeth Bennet while reading about Lexi, which is one of the highest compliments I could ever give Elizabeth Eulberg in regards to her characterization. Basically, Lexi doesn't always knows who she is, but she's trying to figure it out and she's willing to do the work, externally and, more importantly, internally. Go. Read it. Now. Then come back and talk and wait anxiously with me for Elizabeth's next bound-to-be-awesome novel Better Off Friends.

Recommended for: Everyone. Girls need to read this to see an example of a strong, independent young woman. Guys need to realize that "great personality" is a GOOD thing. Parents need to basically consider this a handbook for What Not To Do.
Not recommended for: If you take shows like Toddlers & Tiaras seriously, you'll hate this book, but you should read it anyway.
Book Links:
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About the Author:
Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, she is the author of The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. She lives outside of Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick.

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