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Literature / So Yesterday

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So Yesterday is a stand-alone novel by Scott Westerfeld, exploring the science of cool.

Ever wonder who was the first kid to keep a wallet on a big chunky chain, or wear way-too-big pants on purpose? What about the mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backward? These are the Innovators, the people at the peak of the cool pyramid.

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Braque is a Trendsetter, on the second level of the pyramid. His job: Find the newest, coolest thing for the retail market. His MO: Observe; don't get involved.

But he has to get involved when he and his crush, Jen, discover his cell phone belonging to his boss in an abandoned building— and his boss missing. Hunter and Jen are soon snared in a web of brand-name intrigue: a missing cargo of the coolest shoes they've ever seen, ads for products that don't exist, and a shadowy group dedicated to the downfall of consumerism as we know it.

Not to be confused with the song by Hilary Duff.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jen. When Hunter hesitates, she dives right in.
  • Amateur Sleuth/Kid Detective: Deconstructed. Hunter admits that statistically, no amateur detectives ever solve crime in real life. He and Jen bumble around, averting common detective tropes, and mostly stumble on the truth.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hunter's attempts to find and rescue Mandy end up getting him fired while she gets a promotion, and he has to sell the only pair of cool unique sneakers to pay off a credit card bill. But he gets Jen as a girlfriend, which seems like a good consolation prize in the grand scheme of things.
  • Enhance Button: Subverted, as Hunter tries to get his friend Lexa (who makes a living off of computer graphics) to help him by zooming in and enhancing a cell phone photo, and she explains that the "enhancing" part is impossible; she then shows that the zoomed-in pixels can be made more comprehensible by blurring them.
  • Genre Savvy: Hunter, completely.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Jen helps Hunter buy a suit on a credit card, and bleaches his hair so he looks different. He's surprised at the result.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Played completely straight, with Jen's driving skills coming straight from Grand Theft Auto.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: The sneakers Hunter and Jen are searching for.
  • Lemony Narrator: Hunter, again. He has a penchant for Writing Around Trademarks and going off on tangents.
  • Meaningful Name: Futura Garamond, typeface designer. Also, the entire book is set in the Fonts Futura and Garamond, making his name a Stealth Pun, Brick Joke, and possibly a fourth-wall-breaking Line-of-Sight Name.
    • Also Hunter himself, since his job a a Trendsetter is to seek out innovations that could become the latest trend.
  • Sincerity Mode: Mandy thanks Hunter for being worried about her when thinking she was kidnapped and doing all he could to find her. She still has to fire him and does the usual spiel about hoping to work with him in the future but appreciates that he cared about her wellbeing.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Chapter 0 and Chapter Whatever
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Used throughout the book, lampshaded, and occasionally subverted. Justified by the narrator's job as a "cool hunter" making him rather annoyed by product placement.