Belmont Hill : Showdown by Remy Lacroix
Random House Australia, 2013. ISBN: 9780857981349.
(Age: Teens) Showdown is the first book in Remy Lacroix's new Belmont Hill series, which aims to bring the drama and intrigue of the 90s Sweet Valley High series to the modern, Australian teenager.
Piper Houston is a wealthy, beautiful teenager, used to getting her way at home and at school. Commencing her final year of high school, she is the leader of an exclusive and popular clique of girls whose looks, fashion and attitudes make them the school's social elite.
Soon after the novel begins, we are introduced to Alex Carter as she and her mother move into the Houston mansion. Alex's mum has just married Piper's dad, and Piper is less than happy about the arrival of her new step-sister. As the novel progresses, Hollywood glam clashes with grunge rock chick, in a fight for friends, boys and status.
Showdown has been written to engage and entertain teenage readers, and while it does that, it offers little else. Unlike its film counterparts Mean Girls and Clueless, this novel's moral message is almost non-existent. As a series it seems to be shaping up to be somewhat like television's The OC: Teenage girls living unrealistic and unattainable lives, with more money than sense.
In terms of language and written style, I felt that this got off to a rather grating start but improved a lot as the novel progressed. Language is simple, though the frequent name-dropping of designer brands became tiresome, as did the fairly regular and rather unnecessary use of mild coarse language.
It is the type of novel that may engage reluctant readers, but beyond its potential to get teenagers reading (which is certainly valuable), Showdown seems to offer little more than superficial entertainment. Hopefully subsequent novels in the series will be able to bring more to the table.