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Modelland by Tyra Banks

Modelland (2011)

by Tyra Banks

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OMG this book is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever read and I've read some serious crap in my time. Part of it is hilarious in it's absurdity but after a while it stops being 'It's so bad it's funny' and just becomes tedious.

Tyra Banks is a joke with this book and I suspect it's not an intentional joke but it's a joke nonetheless. ( )
  chickalea | Mar 14, 2014 |
I've never done a vlog review before, and I doubt I'll do many. However, I thought it might be the best way for me to get my thoughts across for this particular book. I'm not going to type out all or most of what I said, but I will give you a quick paragraph's summation of my general thoughts on Modelland, as well as some additional feedback.

Honestly, Modelland was not as bad as I was expecting, but this doesn't mean it was good. The world it's set in makes no actual sense, as there don't really appear to be any people actually working in food production. Still, there are times when it comes close to being a funny satirical novel. It doesn't make it though. I think, with better editing and plotting, Modelland could have been a delightful satire. Also important in that would be the removal of at least 300 pages. Sustaining comedy over 600 pages just is not going to happen. Think of the best humor books you know, and you'll probably find them to be short. Brevity is your friend. Run through the same joke too many times, and it's not going to be funny anymore.

The other downfall of the book is that Banks makes the unique heroines too weird. They are objects of pity and disgust, rather than someone that a regular girl would relate to. The reader ought to see herself in Tookie and the other Unicas, but instead I think they're hardly better than anyone else.

I also did a vlog review, which you can check out here, for more details.

Tyra, bless her heart, tried, but she's just not wearing the author mantle well. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
There's really nothing I can say that hasn't already been said before. So, with that, I'm just going to use this space to rec another book that deals with beauty and girls and accepting yourself.

[bc:Beauty Queens|9464733|Beauty Queens|Libba Bray|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1289410187s/9464733.jpg|10808145]

Seriously. Go read this instead of Modelland.

EDIT: ...The bulimic girl is sorry for the Hollywood Homely Mary Sue.

  princess-starr | Mar 31, 2013 |
Holy hell I'm DONE with this travesty. The acknowledgements mention that this 560-page beast was edited DOWN from the original thousand pages, and I think they could have trimmed more than just 44%. There's a lot of waste here, and it's just awful. Some of it is terrible in the hilarious b-movie way, but most of it is just plain terrible. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 30, 2013 |
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

The biggest surprise of Modelland is that it deserves any stars. It may only deserve one, but that’s more than I expected after reading the sample chapter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I read this book because I knew it would be terribly, hilariously bad. Just life-alteringly awful. I will never again criticize Scott Westerfeld for a lack of subtlety in his moral, nor Jackson Pearce for her stilted writing. Modelland’s flaws are many and varied, and I’ll get to them, but first its single greatest strength:

I’ll read the second one.

For all of my ripping on it, for all of its flaws, for its terrible world building, nonsensical set pieces, plot holes, after-school special morals, and ridiculous language, I found myself liking Tookie and wanting her to succeed.

Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome from being trapped with the character for 574 pages, but after arriving at Modelland, Tookie becomes a pretty realistic portrayal of a teenage girl and I found her quite relatable and did enjoy watching her progress.

Now for the bad. Detailed spoilers below.

First, the narrator. I love Lemony Snicket as much as the next Lemony Snicket fan, but he really did ruin a lot of books by giving authors the go-ahead to use weird, obnoxious narrators. Look, I made it through the Catwalk Corridor chapter, where models are turned into people-cats as punishment for being too catty, and I almost didn’t make it off the first page with the second-person narrator calling me “dahling” [sic] and spewing purple prose all over. If you can overcome that, however, then we’re confronted with the worst introduction to a protagonist that I’ve ever read.

It’s best to acknowledge and accept that this book is a 600 page after-school special. It shallowly deals with cutting, anorexia, bulimia, poor self image, suicidal ideation, more self-injury, bullying, and, most of all, feeling like you don’t fit in. Therefore, it makes sense to introduce Tookie by showing her not fitting in. It doesn’t make sense to introduce her gorging on whipped cream while laying in the middle of a hallway, hoping someone steps on her, while writing in a diary she inexplicably calls T-Mail Jail because it’s abbreviated to TMJ which is like lockjaw and that’s the opposite of what she wants since she wants everyone to read her diary and notice her. Every single thing Tookie does for a solid half of the novel is so infuriatingly “quirky” and “weird”, that I was actively hoping she would fall into the Divide and we’d get a new protagonist.

Speaking of Tookie, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, she’s Tyra Banks. She’s the most blatant self insert since Twilight. In fact, Tyra, in true egomaniacal fashion, has THREE self inserts in the novel. She’s the narrator, she’s Tookie, and she’s Ci~L, the world’s greatest supermodel. That means the book ends with Tyra flying Tyra through the world Tyra created while Tyra narrates the life lessons. It’s actually stunning.

The writing is generally atrocious. This is the first celebrity book that I honestly believe didn’t employ a ghost writer at any point. Here are some tweets I sent while reading:

"...apparently, a famous, wealthy baroness had run a Yonzi scheme of sorts" Really? This is some first class writing. Why not just use Ponzi?
8 Dec

This book features SMIZEs, the golden tickets in Willy Wonka except you get to go to a magic model school instead of a chocolate factory.
8 Dec

"A single spotlight shone down on Tookie’s ripple-bodied father" Ripple-bodied. RIPPLE-BODIED. Maybe I do need that intervention now.
9 Dec

“Feast your eyes upon ... Evanjalinda!” Come now, that's not even a clever play on Linda Evangelista.
9 Dec

It's all the worst part, but I think the world building is the worst worst part. "...on the sexy beaches of Terra BossaNova, on the strip of Striptown, round the Taj Gardens in Chakra.." I want to pull a Miz and just yell, "Really? REALLY?" at every new line.
9 Dec

‘She had an accent from Didgeridoo, a hot land full of beaches and unusual animals with strange names. “And this is where Mastication happens!”’
12 Dec

'“Watch out, De La Creme. This kitty-cat got a taste of your sweetness and wants more of your cream!”
22 hours ago

Every paragraph brings a new line I could have quoted. There are puns and play on words everywhere, characters who sing all of their lines, a group of quadruplets who each speak one line in a sentence, but it’s not just the actual language that’s problematic. Plots are dropped and picked up at random, (see Lizzie’s whole storyline or Tookie’s crush on Theophilus.) Many scenes seem like an excuse to use this awesome idea Tyra had, (the previously mentioned Catwalk Corridor, the pilgrimage, the ManAttack sport.) Tookie deus ex machinas her way around the school, “sleepwalking” into restricted areas including the headmaster’s office in the middle of the day. If a rotating hallway of death or an inconvenient nap don’t advance the plot, that’s okay! The girls can go to class, or have Ci~L do something crazy, or have their big buddy pop up to “accidentally” reveal something she wasn’t supposed to. Nothing happens organically.

If I can go back to the “awesome” ideas, I have no idea what to say or think about the residents of Modelland who didn’t win a worldwide walk-off. The Gurus, we learn, are all supposed to have some sort of flaw. This manifests in a giant hand with a face in his palm and two more hands under that. I don’t know if he’s floating or if he has a body. Frankly, I stopped reading at GIANT HAND. I forget everyone else’s flaw because we only met them once, except for the runway teacher, who, I believe, has the flaw of being dangerously insane. The rest of the staff is also unusual. All of the doctors have roller skates for feet, to better serve you quickly. One of the purses, (that’s nurses for the fashion set,) has scissors growing out of her head that instead of cutting, make bracelets. No, I don’t know how it works. These are the kind of silly, not fleshed out ideas that a child might suggest for a story. How they made it into a published novel is beyond me.

Interestingly, one thing not problematic about the book is gendered language. They seem to go out of their way to not use the phrase “attention whore”, and while some bad characters are referred to as bitches, it’s usually followed up with a reminder not to stoop to the bully’s level. I only wish the narrator hadn’t used it, which seemed condoning. However, while they may not call people sluts, the book punishes sexual women. Desperada is aged 50 years because she won’t abandon her boyfriend, Zarpessa and Chaste are the bullies, and *MAJOR SPOILERS* Ladonna getting pregnant sets up Persimmon’s ruination and Creamy’s betrayal by trying to seduce Ladonna’s boyfriend ends with her banishment.

This indictment of love and sex leads to one of the weirdest plotlines of the book, Tookie’s first kiss. Way overwrought, spawning such terms as “I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I can’t wait to lose my … lip virginity to you,” and “Oh, Tookie, I never wagered your lip nookie,” it’s more cringe-inducing than romantic. I get that for a 15 year old girl, the first kiss is a huge deal, but what 15-17 year old boys do you know who suggest running away to the most beautiful fountain in (the equivalent of) Manhattan to kiss as the sun sets? The same one who actually lectures on the perils of being seen as just a pretty face? Oh, carry on, then.

Overall, it was a bad book with a glimmer of promise in Tookie’s realness. Most of the plot was lifted from Uglies and Harry Potter. It’s manic, poorly written, and predictable. An editor should have taken a weed whacker to large portions of it. There are massive plot holes. But I didn’t set it aside and I will read the second. Whether that says more about me or the book, remains to be seen. ( )
  golden_lily | Mar 29, 2013 |
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to ma and daddy, thank you for being absolutely, positively nothing like Mr and Mrs De La Cream
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 038574059X, Hardcover)

Tyra Banks on Modelland

From the moment the idea for Modelland came to me while driving down the FDR to the second my editor said, "Pencils down, Tyra," five long years passed, but Modelland finally made its way into the world. Once the novel hit the shelves, I began smizing from ear to ear and then embarked on a five-city tour to bring Modelland to my fam. (I call them fams not fans because they are family to me!) In between Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and New York, I found one common theme between everyone that came to see me. In every city, young girls shared fears and questions on how to accept their appearances and how to deal with bullies who make self-love that much harder.

When I was in elementary school, I was the mean girl; I was the bully. Then I turned 11, grew 3 inches, lost 30 pounds in three months, and suddenly found that I was the one being bullied. Perhaps this action was deserved? I got the chance to see how I made other girls feel when I was the leader of the mean pack. Nevertheless, I’ve seen both spectrums and want children and adults all over to realize that bullying is not ok.

On my book tour, I realized that Modelland would allow me to continue to reach young girls and push society’s idea of beautiful, just like America’s Next Top Model. Anyone who’s watched the show knows that I am passionate about atypical beauties, and Modelland is continuing that idea.

The campy, fun, and adventurous world of Tookie De La Crème and Modelland works to share the message of celebrating individuality and unique beauty by transporting readers to my wacky, neon magical world of fantasy, sprinkled with glimpses of my personal life, experiences, and a larger message of beauty and acceptance.

While I dreamt up Tookie, I put many of my own traits into her personality and appearance--from her forehead that goes on and on and on to her insecurity to the fact that she started modeling at 15. More importantly, I created Tookie to relate to everyone and serve as a platform for discussion regarding the fact that beauty should not be defined by clothing size, hair color, or body shape. I want my readers to connect with Tookie and her friends in Modelland--Shiraz, Dylan, and Piper--because they are different, because they are unique, and because they represent YOU.

So now I give Modelland to you and encourage you to not only enter the thrilling world, but connect with Tookie and her journey while expanding your own definition of beauty.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Thrown into a world where she does not seem to belong, awkward fifteen-year-old Tookie De La Creme is invited to join the most exclusive modeling school in the world, where she must survive the beastly Catwalk Corridor and the terrifying Thigh-High Boot Camp in order to uncover Modelland's sinister secrets.… (more)

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