Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow


The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow
Series: The Secret Diamond Sisters #1
Published: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
382 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and frivolous contemporary YA read, The Secret Diamond Sisters might be for you. This is the type of book that would have appealed to me as a teenager when the thought of suddenly finding out you’re related to someone super rich and you get to move somewhere really cool where there are endless parties and tons of hot boys would have been something I’d have fantasized about. As an adult…I had a lot of issues with this book. It makes me really sad to say it because Michelle seems like a sweetheart, and the book had such a promising premise, but there was just so much about it that didn’t work for me.

My first big issue was the characters. I didn’t really like them and I didn’t connect with them. Savannah was 15, Courtney was 16, and Peyton was 17. They were about as different as sisters could be, but it was clear they cared about each other, which I liked.

The story was told from all three sisters’ POVs, plus a girl named Madison who lived in the same building and would be going to the same school as the sisters in the fall. I have theories about Madison, but since nothing with her character really came to fruition, her POV seemed unnecessary and made a long book even longer. Despite there being four different POVs, I tended to think of Savannah as the main character for some reason - maybe because her POV was first, or perhaps because Courtney and Peyton talked a lot about how they’d tried to keep her sheltered from their mother’s issues and how they felt the needed to protect her in Vegas (even though they didn't, but I'll get to that).

Savannah was incredibly shallow, but in an innocent, naïve sort of way. She seemed like an accurate portrayal of a certain type of 15-year-old girl - insecure, obsessed with boys, materialistic, competitive, and looking for love, affection, and approval in all the wrong places. When she found out who her dad was, she wanted the best of everything and was the most receptive to suddenly having endless supplies of money at her disposal. There were times when I found her innocence almost endearing, but there were also times when it made me shake my head and roll my eyes, or made me want to shake her in exasperation. She needed some serious guidance and wasn't getting it from anywhere. She was so obsessed with fitting in and trying to live up to the image of being a Diamond that at times it made her a spineless pushover who would do anything to be seen as cool. A lot of the things she did just didn’t sit right with me. 

Courtney was probably my favourite of the sisters. She was smart, driven, and a hard worker. If Courtney was my favourite character, Peyton was definitely my least. She was a 'rebel' and had a huge chip on her shoulder. Her attitude sucked through the whole book, and she was constantly doing and saying things that made her massively unlikable. She was different for the sake of being different, and did things because she thought it would get attention or make someone mad or whatever. She was basically an immature brat. Something else that bothered me: Courtney and Peyton both kept talking about how they had to look out for Savannah, and they said they’d keep an eye on her, but neither of them did. They both let her leave with guys they didn’t know (or like), and they didn’t discourage some of her more questionable behavior. 

Besides the characters, my other main issue was the plot - as in, there really wasn’t one. The whole book took place in the span of a week, and everything happened very quickly. Within the first night the girls were there, two out of three of them did some seriously questionable things. There was a lot of instalove/lust/obsession with all three girls. There were so many boys in this book I had trouble keeping track of them all. There was also a lot of underage drinking. This doesn’t normally bother me in a book, depending on the situation and how it’s handled, but it was mentioned constantly. I don’t know if that’s what life is really like in Vegas for teenagers but it seemed like nobody could function unless they were drinking and/or getting hammered. And the real kicker: the girls’ mother was an alcoholic who’s in rehab.

The synopsis makes it sound like there’s a bit of mystery to the book: “But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.” What truth about their past? We learn almost nothing about their past. As I said, I have a theory about Madison, but we didn’t actually learn anything, and nothing was resolved because nothing happened. I know this is the first book in a trilogy, but I have no idea where it could possibly go from here. At almost 400 pages, the book felt like it was never going to end. The premise sounded really fun and exciting, which makes me think it could have been one great book where stuff actually happened rather than a trilogy that’s dragged out needlessly.

I feel like I’ve ripped this book to shreds, which makes me really sad, because I hate doing that, and even after three + years of writing reviews, I still feel bad writing this type of review, even though I’m being honest. There was one thing I liked about the book: the setting. There are definitely not enough books set in Vegas. I enjoyed ‘seeing’ Vegas, especially the Venice and Paris hotels, and the whole Phantom of the Opera thing won points with me because I’ve wanted to see it since I was a little girl and love the movie.

I will say that I think The Secret Diamond Sisters would make a fun TV show. There's definitely enough drama and romance - now if there was more conflict and a few more likable characters, it's a show I would watch and consider a guilty pleasure show (like the Real Housewives). 

If you’re curious about The Secret Diamond Sisters, I encourage you to give it a try. Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Plenty of people seem to absolutely love it and not have any of the issues I had with it, and I hope you’ll be one of those people. 

 
Have you read The Secret Diamond Sisters? What did you think? If you haven't read it, is it on your TBR? Have you read Michelle's Transcend Time Saga?

3 comments:

  1. Aw man. So this one isn't high up on my TBR but I WAS considering reading it. I don't know about it, all the unlikeable characters/no growth and all the instalust and underage drinking would probably be as much of a huge turn-off for me as it was for you.

    I DID like Michelle's Remembrance and the novella (Vengeance? I think?) so I still MIGHT try this one but I'm not in a hurry.

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  2. Something about this one had me on pause about reading it *before* your review, and I really like the Transcending Time saga. To me, this seems like it ended up about what I expected. But then again, I suppose that's probably *why* I felt reluctance in the first place. I get the whole 'suddenly rich' thing being fun in literature, but the whole 'getting drunk and running around with a bunch of guys' thing ... plus no real plot / substance (which I was afraid would be the case anyway?). No thanks.

    For me it's not even that I'm not a teen. Rather, it's that even when I was a teen I don't think I would have found this relatable in any way. (Note I'm talking about *me*--with some of the stuff I hear about in today's world for a teen girl this might be frighteningly on tangent / target..* Plus, *hello?! what?!* they're doing this while their mom is in rebah? Talk about apples not falling far from trees. That would have probably been the part where these characters and I parted ways.

    Anyway, I do feel for you about writing a review like this. Not a fun or easy thing to do. Hopefully your next read is something you totally love! :)

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  3. There's no way I'd read this book. From what I can tell from your review, there's absolutely no point or redeeming qualities about this book. What's its point? If the mother was in rehab then why all the drinking? Sorry but this one sounds awful.

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~Marie

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