When I read this book a few months ago, it reminded me SO much of the movie Mean Girls. Honestly, I think the actions of the characters in this book might even be worse than the people in the movie. Because of this, I decided to do something a little different and combined my review with the Mean Girls Book Tag! I saw this one and saved it from Alexa’s blog back in 2015 and have been waiting for the right time to debut it on the blog. (Header graphic credit to her as well!) It was originally created by BookTuber and book blogger Sarah-Jane (check out her her booktube channel and book blog). First, the review!
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Winning by Lara Zeises Deloza
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on June 28th 2016
Format: ARC (336 pages) • Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
I started this book with really complicated feelings about the main character and her incredibly bitchy behavior. She was the EPITOME of a mean girl. I genuinely couldn’t imagine how this would be okay behavior for actual young adults to read about. I mean, I’m in my mid-twenties so I know how to act and not be a horrible person. But younger people could still be impacted by this! I was nervous, honestly. However… I took another look at the synopsis and realized that this book has no issues with making it very obvious that this is about a mean girl. The more I read, the more clear it became – this doesn’t glorify the mean girl trope (that being a terrible person gets you ahead in life). It exposes it and makes it very obvious that you shouldn’t behave this way. I knew that this message would be proven or disproven by the end, so I read the book with a bit of anxiety. If she got away with all this, it would completely send the wrong message. If she didn’t get away with it, hopefully the message to teen readers would be clear. You can see my slow understanding of what was going on based on my reading progress:
House of Cards meets Election in this wickedly entertaining story about an uber-ambitious high school junior.
Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?
Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.
Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.
With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?
This was absolutely a book where I said “okay I’m not even halfway done yet, I’ll read for an hour and go to sleep.” But I couldn’t stop. I needed to know how it would end.
I won’t spoil the ending or what happens with the side characters, but just know that I loved it. It was really great to see PEOPLE doing THINGS together and standing up for themselves. This story made me question the motives of EVERYONE. I didn’t know when side characters were being genuinely nice or being fake, like Alexandra. It left me on the edge of my seat. The author made these terrible people so interesting to read about. It was like a trainwreck you can’t look away from.
One issue I had was the pacing towards the end; it seemed like a very gradual build-up and the end happened quickly. I would have liked a few more pages.
This book is the movie Mean Girls to the millionth degree. Seriously read this book if you enjoy and/or are fascinated by unlikable, terrible characters. I was really torn on rating this book. It was so ridiculously addicting but also so frustrating at the same time. I loved the build-up and pit in my stomach feeling the entire time. I’m also trying to figure out what message this book sends to its intended audience (teens), but it’s making my brain hurt.
I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that this was incredibly smart, and the author is very talented. A debut! Insane. I’ll definitely be watching her for more books – no question.
Now, onto the book tag! Hope you enjoy seeing what I came up with.
“It’s Pronounced Like ‘Cady’.”
Which fictional character’s name did you get completely wrong?
Isla from Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins
I don’t really remember how I was pronouncing it while reading, but I think it was something like E-SLA or ICE-LA. I finally put two and two together when I realized how the actress Isla Fisher’s name was pronounced. Duh.
“She Doesn’t Even Go Here!”
Pick a fictional character that you would like to
place in another fictional character’s world.
Liv from Dream A Little Dream &
Gwen from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
I guess this is probably cheating, but I just love all of Gier’s characters. I could see them being friends with each other! She just has a way of writing snarky, sassy main characters – no matter the storyline. I love both Liv and Gwen from these two series, so I’d enjoy seeing the meet!
“On Wednesdays, we wear pink”
Repetition: Which book gave you déja vu
of another book while reading?
by Victoria Aveyard
This book is just super similar to a lot of other fantasy books. I haven’t read nearly as many comparable titles (compared to other bloggers), but I just felt like it was very contrived. It’s a book I generally like less and less the more I think about it. I’m not jumping for book two, either.
“You all have to stop calling each other sluts
and whores. It just makes it okay for guys
to call you sluts and whores.”
Which book gave you the complete opposite of girl power feels?
Decked with Holly
by Marni Bates
I’m happy to say that it was very easy for me to think of some great girl power books. It was harder to find one that is NOT girl power-y. This is kind of a stretch, but I didn’t like the way some issues were handled in this book. First of all, the guy didn’t notice her until she got a makeover. Second, her cousins were terrible to her and there wasn’t enough resolution on that. Just blegh.
“You go, Glen Coco!”
Name a character you felt like you wanted to cheer on while reading
Cait and Cammie from
Right of First Refusal by Dahlia Adler
These sisters are some of my favorite characters. I just loved that they weren’t afraid to stick up for themselves to their father! Cammie also made me fist pump at like 1:00 AM in my bed because she finally told off their soon-to-be-stepmom.
“Get in loser, we’re going shopping.”
How long do you typically spend at a book shop?
Hmm, this definitely varies, depending on what I’m planning to do there. 😉 Sometimes I go in looking for a specific gift, which takes only a couple minutes. I almost always have to browse the YA section though. Sometimes I forget that books just came out and it’s nice to see the reminder right there in front of me. I’m good about not buying books too often though! I’d say it can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so.
“It’s not my fault you’re like in love
with me or something.”
Which character would get out a restraining
order on you, if they were real?
Matt from Open Road Summer
by Emery Lord
I would hope no one would actually want a restraining order against me, but let’s pretend that FOR SOME REASON Matt Finch didn’t love me back. I guess maybe he would get tired of me asking him to sing songs about me. Right?
“I can’t help it that I’m popular.”
Which over-hyped book were you cautious about reading?
by Melina Marchetta
HAHA all books? But seriously… hype is a killer for me. It sucks. I really wish I could tune it out. Anyways, I was definitely scared to read this one because it’s so many people’s literal favorite book of all time. Of course, it didn’t work for me at all. Such is life.
“She’s a life ruiner. She ruins people’s’ lives.”
We all love Regina George. Name a villain you just love to hate.
Alexandra from Winning
by Lara Deloza
Hey! this book right here! Look at me go. I loved hating Alexandra. I wish I read the synopsis right away and realized it was about a mean girl, because I started the book like “holy shit I can’t deal with this character.”
“I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.”
Who are your favorite fictional parents?
Mr. & Mrs. Garrett from
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I love a book with family feels SO much. This is a tough one to narrow down! But, when I think of books with great parents and strong family feels – it’s kind of no contest. I love the Garretts – everything about them.
“That’s so fetch!”
Which book or series would you love to catch on?
The One Thing
by Marci Lyn Curtis
I like to pimp out a select few underrated books. This is truly the first one that comes to mind every time I’m asked, so sorry for repeating myself. It was just such a sweet, great story. The author is incredibly nice too 😉
“How do I even begin to explain Regina George?”
Describe your ideal character to read about.
This is fun! I’ve never really thought about it. I guess in general, I love imperfect characters that can make mistakes. It’s not as fun to read about the perfect, innocent, Mary Sue kind of character all the time. Give me something to get emotional about! I like to be able to relate to them. I want them to have a great sense of humor and/or perfect snark and sarcasm.
“I just have a lot of feelings.”
What do you do when a book gives you a case of the feels?
Usually, cry. Chris will bring me tissues while I sob into the pages. But really, I get a lot of different feels all the time. Sometimes I have to take a moment to collect myself before continuing to read. And, if the ending gives me feels, I’ll probably wait a bit before starting another book! I don’t want a book hangover.
“Nice wig, Janice, what’s it made of?”
“Your mom’s chest hair!”
Which character’s one liners would you love to claim for your own?
Jordan & Henry from
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Books that make me laugh out loud are fantastic. The banter between these two best friends was just beyond great. AND as a bonus, they had a lot of football jokes. YES. Doesn’t get any better than that.
“Boo, you whore.”
Name a character’s decision that made you roll your eyes.
Maude from Autofocus
by Lauren Gibaldi
I really wanted to love this one because I enjoyed the author’s first book a lot. I just could not get on board with the main character at all. I rolled my eyes so much because it was too cheesy and just not for me, apparently.