Sunday 19 December 2010

Book Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen.

Product details:
Publisher: Puffin.
Paperback, 400 pages.
Release date: January 6th 2011.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star...

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

Summary from Goodreads.

Bright Young Things is one of those books I’d been looking forward to for ages and ages. I was hooked first by the glorious cover, then by the Jazz age setting, and finally by the coming-of-age and historical themes, both of which I love. Of course, with great expectation, often comes great disappointment, and while I won’t say that I was really let down by this book, I definitely have some issues with it. Overall, by the end of this one I was invested enough in the characters and their destinies to stick with the series, but that’s not to say that I didn’t encounter a few stumbling blocks along the way with Bright Young Things.

The book begins with a prologue, and boy, will this hook you! Honestly, there was one line in the prologue that was so good, and so shocking that you will immediately be sucked into this book. The prologue though, is a little deceptive, and I had a totally different vision of the direction this book would take when I read it. It serves it’s purpose, though. Even if, like me, you don’t totally fall in love with this book, you will want to read the next book in the series just because of the prologue!

At the start of the story, we are introduced to Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur who are leaving their boring, small-town lives behind, and heading for the bright lights of New York. Various trials and tribulations ensue in the city, and the girls quickly go their separate ways, which was a little at odds with their lifelong friendship, but hey, it happens! From here, the plot is a little lacking at times. There is definitely an element of style over substance for a large part of this book, and while Godbersen’s descriptive writing is quite lovely, I would have liked a little more plot development and action. Overall, the storyline is fully predictable, and the characters, for me, were a little dull. Granted, Cordelia and Letty are small town girls finding their way in the world, and so they are going to mess up and make mistakes, but honestly, at times, these two struck me as  being slightly dim. The third of our girls, Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all was my favourite character to read about, although this was maybe due to Godbersen’s lush descriptions of her clothing. I just love the flapper style, and Godbersen describes it well.

With the coming-of-age theme and the jazz age setting, you would expect lots of parties, speakeasies and boys. Yes, there are boys, but mostly they didn’t appeal to me. However, I’m hoping that a certain male character with potential will resurface in the next book. I just hope these girls can find the right guy in the end!

Overall, this book is a fun way to while away a few hours. It wasn’t my book of the year, but I did warm to it in the last third of the book when the action picks up, and many secrets and lies are revealed. I’m still trying to work out the prologue, which was so good I wish I could tell you all about it. Instead, you’ll just have to pick up a copy of this one for yourself and discover the secret!


Have you seen the cover art for Book #2 in the series? I love it! Beautiful Days will publish September 2011 (US) from HarperTeen. I will post up the UK release date and plot synopsis when available. 


  1. This is about how I felt reading The Luxe. Not bad, but kind of meh too. I wasn't as captivated by the book as I was by the cover.

    You have piqued my interest with that prologue though. I may have to snag a copy and read that part at least.

  2. oh no... see, now I'm a little hesitant to read it. I (like you) have been looking forward to it, but now I'm not so sure. I am reading SO MANY series that I'm afraid to get into another one that is only so-so.

    Think I need to sleep on this one, but thanks for the great (and honest) review!


  3. I completely agree with your review. It was a good read and entertaining, but it lacked something special. I was definitely disappointed with it. I probably won't even read book two in the series, which stinks, b/c I LOVED The Luxe series. Thanks for the honest review!

  4. This book definitely intrigues me, but I"ll be sure to keep your reservations in mind. Excellent review :)

  5. Love the cover for book #2! She always has such amazing covers. Totally why I read The Luxe.

  6. Thanks for the honest review! I will think before buying the book after reading your thoughts, especially since I had huge expectations for the book too.
    Anna Godbersen's covers are always amazing! I bought The Luxe is for the cover only :) However I still have to read it.

  7. I have not read the entire luxe series, only the first one,but I want to read this one first. The covers are stunning. ;)

  8. Fabulous review Leanna, now I want to run to the bookstore just to read the prologue! I also want to know who the male character with potential is, so despite your reservations, you've still mad me want to read this one:) I'm usually just a little disappointed when there's a book I'm dying to read, I just put so much pressure on it to be spectacular, it's almost impossible to live up to my expectations.

  9. Interesting review. I own this one but haven't read it yet. I've been hearing a lot of comments similar to what you're saying in your review. This one an Vixen really captured my attention. I'll have to go home and read the prologue ;)

  10. Thanks for your honest review. I’m looking forward to reading this, but after reading your review and a few others I think I might hold out until the next in the series is released.

  11. The covers for Godbersen's books are always gorgeous. I think I'll hold off on reading Bright Young Things though because it sounds like I'm going to have the same experience with it as I did with the Luxe series - like it but not enough to continue reading the series.


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