Reviews: Modelland

So bad it's good, horrible, and sad.

Tyra Banks draws from her experiences for her book Modelland. (Also probably Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.) The book is about the eponymous school where models with magical powers learn the ways of modelling in a fashion-obsessed dystopian world. Great premise, right?

The protagonist is Tookie De La Crème (look "Tookie" up on Urban Dictionary) and is described as the only girl who doesn't care for being a model. If you are getting Sue vibes, it's perfectly understandable. The first chapter is supposed to make us sympathize with how no one pays attention to her, yet we're shown why no one would want to pay attention to her and a scene where she is lying in a hallway and no one steps on her, which she interprets as her being a "Forgetta-Girl". She's little more than a Sympathy Sue.

There are many problems with the book that are simply hilarious. Banks is obsessed with abbreviations and alliteration, with names such as "SMIZE", "Shivera Shuffle", and combinations of both. Albinoism is portrayed as heriditary. Tookie digs through the garbage for a button that the guy she crushes on dropped and interprets the markings on it to mean they're meant to be together. At one point, Tookie infiltrates a high-security building to overhear a plot-advancing conversation by sleepwalking through the entire building.

There's also the less amusing side of the story. If Banks believes that this book is empowering to girls, she doesn't know what she has written. One character who is portrayed as unattractive due to her body hair is described as beautiful once she shaves it all off. Another character states that they would be better off if they had the right boyfriend. The main characters mock a mentally unstable and homeless girl. The ending of the book implies that what's important is not feeling good about your own appearance but having someone find you attractive.

So what's the sad part? As I said earlier, this was a neat premise. And there are several interesting plot threads that come up. What happens to them? They're abruptly and completely forgotten. They cease to affect the story. There are genuinely intriguing ideas and likeable characters in the story, but they're ignored in favour of a contrived storyline with unappealing characters.