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Jealous?: The Ashleys    by Melissa de la Cruz order for
by Melissa de la Cruz
Order:  USA  Can
Aladdin, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This fluffy tween fashionista series, The Ashleys, is set in an elite San Francisco private school and reads like a cross between Gossip Girl and The Clique. It's written by YA author Melissa de la Cruz, well known for her popular Au Pairs series.

This second episode, Jealous?, opens on a new blog,, which purports to be a seventh grade social experiment at Miss Gamble's. The website is to offer a weekly ranking of each girl's 'sociopopularity index', but who is responsible for it? Naturally the school's trio of golden girls - Ashley Spencer, Ashley 'A.A.' Alioto and Ashley 'Lili' Li - slot into the top three rankings, though Lauren Page (who started out invisible in the first episode of the series) is moving up fast and appears to be a serious contender. As the story unfolds, it is interspersed with updates on the key players' AshleyRank ratings.

Lauren's goal is to infiltrate the Ashleys and then to 'put an end to their reign of terror and make like better for everyone in the seventh grade.' To execute her plan, she plays to their vanities by inviting them to act the part of her friends in a new reality TV show, Preteen Queen. The show creates competition and jealousy amongst the Ashleys since only one of the foursome - voted on by the audience - will go forward to the next level. In parallel with the drama is a love triangle between Ashley, A.A. and the latter's longtime video-game buddy Tri Fitzpatrick. Lili falls for Max, a lacrosse player and new fellow student in her private French conversation class. And Lauren is surprised to find herself juggling two new boyfriends.

Jealous? ends with a surprising AshleyRank reversal and at least one of the players plotting to move back up in the rankings. The Ashleys is a cute series for those who like reading about life on the spoilt side. But for a change I'd really like to read about smart young women focused on SAT scores and careers rather than popularity and appearance. I'd find their angst more interesting but perhaps I'm in the minority.

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