Review: Material Girls – Elaine Dimopoulus

Posted 7 April, 2015 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 22 Comments

*I received a free copy of Material Girls from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *

Review: Material Girls – Elaine Dimopoulus |
4 Stars

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?

Material Girls definitely has a very interesting concept, in this universe, kids as young as 13 are ‘tapped’ to become fashionistas instead of going to school, they are trend-setters, making sure the people spend their money so that the rich can always become richer.

My Material Girls review:

Chilling is definitely a word that comes easily to mind when envisioning the kind of society that is reality in Material Girls! Both Ivy and Marla thought they were living the dream, Ivy as a very popular singer, and Marla as a judge in the superior court at one of the big five fashion houses. Setting trends, and making others obsolete at the same time was a big part of their daily lives. What made Material Girls so chilling in some ways was that the underlying politics of the society depicted in the story had no qualms about taking very young children out of the school system and into paid employment instead – but it was not for the greater good of the population at all.

When Marla got fired from her job as a judge, she felt like the world had come to an end, at sixteen, she was almost obsolete, with no formal education, and no real knowledge apart from that about fashion and trends. In the basement, she was now a drafter instead – a designer who might or might not get her designs picked, and then she would be the one to stand in front of the superior court trying to persuade the judges of the benefits of her knew creation. Marla was quickly brought up to speed about a lot of things, namely the fact that the drafters wanted to go on strike, but in order to do so, they also had to make sure other workers would do the same.

Material Girls is much more about politics and society than the characters, even if the characters made the story unfold. I enjoyed the way Marla slowly realized that she might not have been a privileged person during her time at the superior court, especially when she understood that she knew very little about the world surrounding her, both close by and far away. After a chance meeting with Ivy, who was fed-up with her own situation, taking a calming drug far too often for it to be safe for her health, Marla designs new clothes for Ivy, and thus starts the eco-chic trend.

Throughout the story, there were many important things that happened, especially when it came to making a better society for everybody, not only for the people on top of the pyramid. Material Girls was quite slow-paced, though, and I was a little disappointed in the way especially Ivy ended up dealing with her problems, while Marla went through some very difficult times to ‘pay for’ her transgressions. Written in both first and third person point of view, past tense, alternating between Ivy and Marla, I did enjoy the premise and the concept of Material Girls. It put the spotlight on a lot of things that could be changed in our society, and also highlighted the importance of education of the masses, so that knowledge does not get lost.

Some of my favorite Material Girls quotes:

She scanned the crowd. No one was appalled. No one cried out that this trend was completely unwearable, was in fact, actually torturous.

I listened to their condescending praise. They had only silenced my tongue. They had no idea what had taken root in my head.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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22 responses to “Review: Material Girls – Elaine Dimopoulus

  1. Hi Lexxie, the synopsis alone made me realize that, even with the shallow-sounding title of Material Girls, the book is in fact more serious than at first glance. Since I studied politics in college, I know how dark and crazy it can be. It’s cool that the author mixed fashion and politics — especially since most books concentrate on the fashion side and don’t usually delve into how crazy fashion politicking can be!

    • Yes, fashion and politics mixed together really worked well in this story, Goldie. And I also thought it was very interesting how some kids were taken out of school so early, easier to mold a mind that has less knowledge, I guess.

  2. I like a plot-driven story when it’s one making a statement about society, Lexxie. Material Girls sounds like a great read and I like the word ‘chilling’ as I think it seems like a really good description. I also like that the book seems to speak to the fluidity and fickleness (?) of society. Great review! I will be sure to pick up this one!

    Happy Tuesday, my dear!! I hope your day is going splendidly! **BIG HUGS**

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: Tuesday Teaser ~ #63
    • Yes, it is very chilling, and you’re right about the fluidity and fickleness of everything that is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of fashion too. Using it to further a political and social agenda just took it one step further in many ways.
      *BIG HUGS*

  3. It the plot had stuck to fashion/YA, I wouldn’t have been interested, but the political side caught my attention. I’ll add it to my list – lack of education, suck a contemporary problem…

    Red Iza recently posted: Review / S.M. Reine : Omega
    • It’s quite intricate, Brandi, and the politics could also be seen as social science, and a way to make the population at large behave a certain way just because they didn’t know any different… nor any ways to make a change.

  4. It’s the first time I hear about this one I confess but the concept is intriguing and it’s nice to see you had a good time with the story. I think I would like to try as well.

  5. Berls

    This looks like one I soul pick up too Lexxie. I like worlds that take something true about our world (power of fashion symbols) and gives it a nudge to make it uncomfortable and political. Too bad it dragged at points, but I think overall I would enjoy it too. Great review!

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