Because there are ten books in this series, we figured it made sense to do some mini reviews for each one. My reviews, specifically, will round up a few books at once and sort of talk through my feelings on each one. I’ll be referencing all major plot points, so there will be spoilers. Don’t read this post if you haven’t read this series before. I took notes in a Google Doc as I read because I KNEW that the books would blend together too much, so here are my thoughts from rereading.
The first book in the series involves setting up all of the characters and the backstory; it’s super introductory. The premise of this series is that old-money-rich Anna heads to LA for an internship in lieu of finishing high school in Manhattan. She meets Ben, a hot guy wearing a Princeton hoodie, on the airplane. They connect immediately and he invites her to the wedding of Jackson Sharpe, a famous movie star. Anna decides to take some risks in her life in LA and reinvent herself, instead of constantly referencing the fake rich upper east side bible she’s lived up to, so she goes to the wedding with Ben.
She quickly meets Sam, who is the daughter of said movie star, and her friends, Dee and Cammie. Dee is a petite girl with some weird, cosmic thoughts, while Cammie is apparently the most gorgeous person in the universe and simultaneously the bitchiest. Apparently all three of them have some kind of love connection with Ben. Cammie is his ex-girlfriend (the only guy who has had the gall to dump her), Dee has secretly hooked up with him, and Sam has been pining over him for years. As you can imagine, all three girls aren’t overly excited to see him show up with a new random girl from an airplane.
The rest of the story was familiar to me – I started to remember character names a bit more and the general plot of the first book. Anna’s internship falls through and she tries to work on her relationship with her somewhat-estranged father, who she is staying with in LA. She ends up having to enroll at Beverly Hills High for the last semester. She becomes quick friends with Sam and quick enemies with Cammie. It’s really interesting to read this series because it happens in the third person omnicient point of view, so we get to see what each character is thinking (even the random side characters that come up sometimes).
The biggest drama in this one is that Ben left her behind after the wedding because of some kind of emergency. Anna annoyed me at the end of the book when Ben tried to explain himself and she wasn’t listening to him. I learned quickly that everyone’s favorite pastime in this series is jumping to conclusions before having all of the information.
Girls on Film | Blonde Ambition | Tall Cool One
These books definitely do some solid recaps at the beginnings of each one. It’s probably great if you didn’t just finish the previous book, but holy cow – it gets repetitive if you are binge-reading! I liked these three books overall! The fourth one is definitely one of my favorites in the series. I didn’t remember that Anna’s sister came to cause trouble so quickly in the series, but she makes her appearance in book #2. She’s certainly a rebel. The whole Palm Springs trip to film their movie was definitely something I vaguely remembered from my first read. Anna has a tiny relationship with Adam in book #2 (and his dog) that was really pointless in the grand scheme of this series. I definitely saw it coming when she dumped him for Ben; her back-and-forth thoughts on all of her romantic prospects was so annoying. It was crazy that alllll of these things happened in the first few days of her being in LA!
The next book was a bit repetitive for me with a lot of the language and inner thoughts of the characters. Ben was irritating and clingy, so my love for him ended pretty quickly in book #3. Cammie starts dating Adam, because apparently she and Anna need to swap guys all the time. I liked the Hermosa Beach TV internship setting; it was really fun! Cammie’s dad is pretty crazy and the whole thing with her sabotaging Anna was not surprising. By the end of this book, Anna dumps Ben again and moves over to Danny, a writer on the show.
Finally, book #4 was suuuuper solid. There were some weird and annoying moments (like Dee’s friendship with Sam’s stepmother, Poppy). This is the installment where I really fell in love with Sam. Her self-confidence issues (because she’s a size 8-10, living in Hollywood) are tough to read because I totally get it in some ways. Before I get into the main plot, I’ll just note that Cammie and Adam annoyed me so much. She knew she was going to be dating a sweet, nice guy for once, but she’s still surprised at how he doesn’t want to jump her right away. Anyways, Sam and Anna head to Mexico to test out a new resort for her father. Anna has a mini fling with some instructor and is a complete snob. She was suprised when he knew what “carpe diem” meant, as if that’s not something the majority of people already know? It has nothing to do with graduating college, you brat. The big drama of this one is when the two girls have some crazy tequila and get lost in Mexico. Sam meets Eduardo, a Peruvian man who loves her curves, and it’s all gravy from there (kinda). I enjoyed the ending of this one and the whole story overall!
Back in Black | Some Like It Hot | American Beauty
Book #5 begins at the Oscars, where Jackson (Sam’s father) loses again. There’s a class trip to DC planned but apparently the cool kids go to Vegas instead. Cammie and Adam annoyed me with their constant PDA because clearly Cammie is trying to make Anna jealous or something? The whole book was kind of irritating with the concerns over Sam’s weight and constant discussion about Anna’s intelligence. Anna’s best friend, Cynthia, and her boyfriend, Scott (who Anna was secretly crushing on in NYC), surprise Anna in Vegas. There was a hypnotist show where everyone confessed their secrets and true feelings; Sam was the only one who didn’t get hypnotized so she tries to stop everyone from watching the tape. This book was overall pretty boring and nonsensical. The ending involved a reunion with Ben, as expected.
The next book involves one of my favorite themes: prom! Sam, an aspiring filmmaker, decides to make a student film about the “prom weenies,” aka the girls at her high school who care too much – in Sam’s mind – about making the perfect prom. I was annoyed by Ben’s presence in this one because I truly stopped caring about their relationship. I was also over Cammie and Adam’s relationship even more. For someone so smart, there was a lot of jumping to conclusions and lack of common sense for Anna. Part of the synopsis completely spoils the Sam/Parker kiss that momentarily ruins her relationship with Eduardo, but whatever. Dee and Jack, Ben’s creepy friend from Princeton, fall in love immediately somehow. While all of this prom stuff is going on, there’s drama with Cammie as she starts to learn the truth about the night her mom was involved in some kind of boating accident when she was younger. Cammie’s dad and Sam’s mom were hooking up that night on the boat.
Anna continued to be judgmental about everyone in this story. In this one, there’s a boy with tattoos (Caine) that she feels the need to assume things about ASAP. She started to really annoy me in this one and I was eager for Ben to be kicked to the curb. The story had a bit of drama with Sam’s mom, as she focused on tracking her down for Cammie’s benefit, while simultaneously trying to get Eduardo back. There was a loooot of mean girl stuff in this one, including some drama with a rival high school and another mean girl they used to know. Anna continued to also jump to conclusions. She spent her graduation night with Caine, who she started to like, and sort of told Ben to fuck off for reasons I don’t remember. Sam also succeeds in getting Eduardo back, thanks to Parker.
Heart of Glass | Beautiful Stranger | California Dreaming
I binged the final three books in three days, so I could get everything done in time for this post! I apparently started slacking a little too much and needed a break from these characters. I’m glad I did that because I found myself a bit more refreshed when I started book #8. The focus of this one was Cammie and Anna’s somewhat growing relationship. The two were caught trespassing on some guy’s property and did a charity fashion show for their community service. They found an at-risk teen, Champagne, that would work as a great model. Cammie starts to plan for her future as, apparently, a talent agent like her dad. Cammie learns more about her mother’s situation and mental health issues, which led to her suicide. Sam and Parker start working together on a few things, including Sam catching her stepmother in the act of cheating on her dad. (I forgot to mention she’s a lot younger than him and had a baby named Ruby Hummingbird lol). Anna tells both Caine and Ben she wants to date them simultaneously, and they agree for a bit. That whole thing was stupid.
The second-to-last book was decent. There were a lot of things set up in the final stories, so I expected an interesting series finale next. In book #9, Caine and Ben both break it off with Anna. I did not feel bad about it at all. Sam sincerely pissed me off for 80% of the book, which sucks because she’s my favorite character. She assumed the worst of Eduardo the ENTIRE book. She thought he was breaking up with her when he went up to the stage to make an announcement in front of a lot of people – right, like he would do that to end things. She thought he was giving her breakup jewelry instead of a ring. SIGH. Anyways, she continued to let her self-esteem issues plague her even once they became engaged. While Anna’s relationship(s) ended, so did Cammie’s with Adam. Finally. Sam and Anna go to NYC to take a break and also, for Sam, to spy on Eduardo. She AGAIN jumps to insane conclusions about what he’s up to. I can’t believe he sticks around, honestly. Logan, one of Anna’s childhood friends, is introduced. They have a cute fling in NYC and Anna starts getting nervous about Yale. At the end of the book, Cammie and Ben have opened a club together. They’re apparently back together and Adam punches Ben, so Anna takes Logan up on his offer to move to Bali for a little bit. (Meanwhile, Sam and Eduardo get back together because she realizes she’s been a moron.)
The final book starts with a bang. Anna rushes onto the plane with Logan and they’re headed to work on an eco-resort in Bali. However, the plane starts having mechanical issues and has to crash land back in LA. Everyone is on high alert because it looks like they won’t survive. Of course, the whole live-like-you’re-dying, my-life-flashed-before-my-eyes thing was prevalent throughout the story. Sam uses this as a reason to marry Eduardo right away. I really enjoyed Cammie’s life in this one – balancing the club work and working with getting Champagne’s modeling career going. There were some ups and downs throughout the story, like Anna’s father’s hospitalization and the inevitable wedding fiasco, but it was an incredibly solid finale for me. I didn’t remember how this series ended but I also kind of knew all along what was going to happen, especially for the relevant couples in this one. My major qualm with this book is that I don’t even know if Dee had any chapters about herself. What happened with Aaron? She just decided abruptly that she was feeling Jack instead? Oh well. Cammie had a fantastic moment at Sam’s wedding, which is the biggest reason she’ll always be one of Sam’s best friends. The ending was inevitable and I’m pretty happy with it overall. More thoughts on the finale for Friday’s post!