Monday, November 14, 2011

Modelland - Tyra Banks

The first I heard of Modelland by Tyra Banks was at BEA, when someone else in the line I was waiting in started ranting. The list of complaints ranged from how rude Banks had been to the woman to the fact that she'd been under the impression that she'd get an ARC of some "modelling book", not a sample chapter. I'd been under the impression since that Banks had written a modelling manual or something of the sort. Then I saw this on the shelves of my Booksamillion, and just kind of stared in a vague blend of confusion and horror at the cover. I mean, I'm the type of terrible person who judges books by their cover, and I've always felt that an attention getting cover is a good thing. That being said, I think I could make something better on photoshop. I'm pretty sure someone has.

Needless to say, I wasn't expecting this book to be good. I had no expectations for something good between these covers, and maybe that set me up for what I got. Or maybe I just wouldn't have liked it irregardless.

Modelland is the story of--wait for it--Tookie De La Crème. Tookie is an awkward, supposedly ugly girl who is completely forgettable because she isn't pretty. Her best friend is a crazy chick who lives in a tree house, her sister, whose name is butchering of Miracle spelled more than one way throughout the book, is absolutely gorgeous but dumber than a rock, her mother, Creamy, treats her like crap, and her father doesn't want anything to do with her. Her sister is the apple of her parent's eye, and when it comes time for the newest crop of girls to be chosen to go to Modelland, Tookie isn't expecting to be chosen. Far from it, she's only there because her parents made her help her sister. But Tookie is shocked to be selected, and is taken to a place she never dared to dream about, but which isn't as wonderful as it seems.

In the interest of full disclosure? I made myself keep reading past the point I would have quit, before I couldn't handle anymore. I couldn't finish this book. I mean, the only reason I picked up Modelland is because Elixir, by Hilary Duff, was a good book and I was curious to see if another celebrity could pull a book off. Tyra Banks, in my honest opinion, needs to stick to TV.

First off, in Modelland, you know what puts the 'super' in supermodel? Superpowers. I wish I were joking. If you're selected at the end to become one of the special seven intoxibellas, then you get a shiny gold belt and freaking superpowers. And I don't even mean awesome superpowers, like laser beams or something. I mean the ability to make people want to buy stuff, or to live life never turning 30, but instead reaching 29 and then waking up as a teenager again. The only really neat power is the ability to change your shape. Personally, if I become an intoxibella, though, and one of my friends had the ability to change into whatever, and all I could do was make people want to buy wrinkle cream? I'd be pissed.

Speaking of superpowers, one of them is called, and I quote "Seduksheeon". Yet another moment where I wish I was kidding. One of the annoying things about this book is Bank's name choices. Take the above, or Tookie's sister, Myyracle. Why couldn't she just have spelled seduction or Miracle? Really? Am I allowed to call Banks out for doing that stupid name thing, where all you do is take a word and butcher the spelling? Because it's frankly absurd. At this point, I'm not sure if I care, but I'll give props to Banks one name, Ci~L, isn't pronouced See-squigle-el, in the vein of La-a being La-dash-a. Even the names that aren't horribly mutilated are still just flat out ridiculous. Examples, you say? Tookie. Creamy. Theophilus. ZARPESSA ZARIONNEA. All I have to say is just...REALLY? My spell check is going crazy right now.

But let's say that the names aren't vomit inducing story-breakers. Let's say we replace every name in the book with something that doesn't completely trash the story flow. Lets move on to characters! There is nothing redeemable about Tookie, to start. She is a dull, completely unlikeable character and I honestly did not give a damn what happened to her. Her mother is a complete witch of a woman, and as far as Tookie's relationship with her family? It read like something out of a crappy Harry Potter fanfiction. Tookie's father is a dick, her sister is a stuck up and self absorbed moron, and her best friend is a nutcase.

A lot of the situations were completely unrealistic, too. Tookie lays down in the middle of a hallway at school and everyone just ignores her, at one point, because she's SO unimportant and nobody cares except this one guy who offered to help her up and became her prince charming and fajdflahjslkfjaskfasdf. No. BEYOND THE REALMS OF PLAUSIBILITY, BANKS!

Oh! And on a final note, did I mention that the first part of the book, and every chapter, is a fourth wall breaker that calls the reader Dahling and is basically a huge info dump so that Banks didn't have to explain as much in story? Yeah. There's that too.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Modelland has a great moral behind the story, likely akin to 'every girl is beautiful'--unless you don't shave, anyway, since Tookie bags on a classmate who is against razors, but that's another story--but a good moral doesn't make for a good story, and she should have just written a manual for models, as I originally thought she had, because it would have been a better contribution to society.

I read this because Elixir gave me hope for celebrity authors, and I chose Modelland specifically because I'm a dystopia girl. That being said, any hope that Elixir gave me for celebrities was dashed to the rocks by Modelland. The fact that Modelland is the first in a series is vaguely horrifying, and it kind of infuriates me to know that this book is not only published, but will and has sold, and will have a series to follow. Not, mind, because it's actually a good book; any success Modelland has will be because Tyra Banks has fans willing to buy her stuff.

As far as recommendations go? Don't bother with Modelland. Save your time and money for a book that's worth reading.


  1. I've only read the first chapter but I can already tell the book is more for people who like the gossip girl style of writing. You cant really take the book seriously with all the over-the-top names and I think Tyra wrote it this way on purpose so people could just enjoy the story and get a good laugh from it, while getting the deep themes as well. I would never read it but for someone who likes this style of writing it might be a good way to pass the time. Even after tyra wrote a book I dont consider her a writer. I think of her more as a storyteller, nothing more.

  2. I guess I can understand not being serious, and some superficial books are interesting, a certain point, this book just crossed a line of what I can handle. I mean, there are probably a few people who like it, and that's fine, but I couldn't stomach it. Things like over the top names are tolerable if the rest is good, and the writing style could even be accepted...but then there's the flat characters and, say, the 'dahling' speaker who starts the book..and it's just too much, in my eyes.