I’m teaming up with Lauren from Bookmark Lit to reread the A-List series as part of her Nostalgia Project Feature. Check out my intro post here!
Book 1 | The A-List This book was pretty much everything I remembered- good girl, East Coast, WASPy Anna moves to LA in some sort of quarter life crisis, needing to “find” herself and let loose since her BFF is now dating her forever crush (not that she ever told her friend that). In the span on the first book you can basically predict what you’re in for throughout the rest of the series: outrageous amounts of money, lavish parties, shameless name dropping of celebrities and designers, and completely far fetched scenarios for a teenager to be in…and I am 100% here for it. My copy of this book is actually missing about 30 pages (it’s a misprint!) so there’s a portion of this book that I’ve never read and am destined to never know what happens during. 4 Stars
Book 2 | Girls on Film The sophomore installment of this series brings Anna’s sister Susan to town, where she pals around with Anna’s arch nemesis Cammie Sheppard (who to be honest is the most interesting character IMO). Susan predictably indulges in all the things she’s not supposed to and ends up being shipped back to rehab, and we get the first of Anna-and-Ben breaking up and then getting back together again (yawn). Also, this book is what starts Sam’s interest in being a film director (which I love!) I also love how I feel like I’ve personally stayed at the Beverley Hills Hotel after reading this book. 4 Stars
Book 3 | Blonde Ambition This book was really fun! I loved seeing Anna get to work on a tv show and see how things work behind the scenes. Hermosa Beach, the show she’s working on, is hilarious because it’s like a mash up of so many teen dramas from the early 2000s. I also liked getting to know Cammie’s father (who is ironically Anna’s boss) and let me tell you, it explains a LOT about Cammie’s personality (also her birthday party scene was so sad). Also, Ben starts to really PISS ME OFF in this book. Dude has no boundaries. 4 Stars
Book 4 | Tall Cool One Easily the best novel in the series! I love when the cast travels because you get to imagine yourself on their luxury vacations (staying at the types of places I only wish I could afford) and the Mexican resort they stay at is phenomenal (the food descriptions, the grounds, the accommodations…seriously Zoey Dean knows how to write a setting). I never wanted Sam and Anna to leave. I also loved seeing them leave the drama of LA behind, and so many amazing things happened to Sam in this book: Her Dad rescuing her, meeting Eduardo, etc. I loved getting to see a tiny bit into Sam’s dad’s personality (he’s supposed to be like a Tom Cruise Hollywood star, minus the couch jumping). If I could just live in this book that would be great. 4.5 Stars
Book 5 | Back In Black So I’ll admit I’m loving the song titles as the titles of the books (the quotes prefacing the first chapter of each book are pretty spot on too). This book was OK…I love Vegas and love when the gang vacations (although the Palms? It’s so off strip- I remember seeing it from my room at the Bellagio last time I went to Vegas, so it’s not where I would have pictured them staying) but I feel like nothing actually really happened in this book? Although it was fun to meet Cyn (although she’s sort of insane and I’m sorry, I don’t believe for 2 seconds that her and Anna could be friends in real life or that her eccentric style would be thought of as trendy by anyone). Also, really like the character development Parker got in this one! 3 Stars
Book 6 | Some Like It Hot This book realllllly dragged. Ben and Anna are on-again (yawn) yet she has this constant insecurity regarding his family friend who is living in the house (honestly it doesn’t really make sense to me that Anna would be so insecure about this when the girl is so incredibly naive). There’s all this prom drama which I think turned me off because prom was a zillion years ago for me (ok not really but still over half a decade ago) and I had such little drama around my own prom that I have no desire to relive someone else’s. Cammie DID accidentally burn down a hotel in this one which was slightly hilarious and totally crazy and just the sort of thing that would happen in these books. Also, Sam majorly messes up her relationship with Eduardo because she’s so insecure it’s unbelievable. This book ultimately really dragged. 2 Stars
Book 7 | American Beauty I really liked this one! It kicks off with a party on a yacht that’s themed after the seven deadly sins which was really creative. Anna starts this flirtation with one of her Dad’s employees and honestly I am so sick of Anna being so thirsty but hiding behind her demure ice princess facade. Like she literally has a different love interest in almost every book aside from Ben, and never meets a single guy in LA who doesn’t instantly want to date her. I really started enjoying Cammie more in this book, and I loved her quest to find out the truth about her mom’s death (which was really tragic) and getting more background information on Sam’s mom who has been out of her life since she was a young child. We also get to witness a Beverly Hills High School graduation (honestly I can’t believe I actually know people who went to this high school, I’ll have to ask them one day if it’s really as posh and star studded as this series makes it sound). 4 Stars
Book 8 | Heart of Glass The series starts to drag again in this installment, which literally has no plot except for Anna and Cammie getting arrested for accidentally walking on someone else’s private beach (#firstworldproblems) and have to do their “community service” by planning a charity fashion show. I liked Cammie taking initiative and deciding she’s going to represent a model from the program and start using her powers for good instead of evil. Honestly you could probably skip this book and not miss out on anything because almost nothing relevant happens (EXCEPT Sam’s obnoxious, only 4 years older than her stepmother gets caught cheating and gets kicked to the curb by Sam’s dad. THAT was satisfying). 2.5 Stars
Book 9 | Beautiful Stranger I feel like we regressed a lot in this book- Sam gets freaking ENGAGED to Eduardo yet she’s just as suspicious as ever of him, and Anna has another existential crisis about her future (like sorry I have no sympathy for you, you got into Yale and are richer than sin). I also completely and totally forgot about Logan so he was a nice addition and really a good fit for Anna. It was fun having this book set in New York though and seeing what high brow snobbery pervades the East Coast in comparison to the West Coast. Also, I’m actually shipping Ben + Cammie. 4 Stars
Book 10 | California Dreaming ALL THE SHAME because I didn’t actually finish this one. I’m going to wrap it up in the next few days and I have 110% forgotten how it ended so it will almost be like reading it for the first time. My prediction is that it’s going to be super open ended. Honestly I would totally be down for a “where are they now” book set ten years in the future (like Gossip Girl did) because I would love to see these absurdly rich and spoiled kids interacting with today’s technology. ??? Stars
Overall: I really enjoyed rereading these books! It was such a fun way to spend the summer and it was nice to binge read a series (I miss the days when I used to do that all the time) and also not have to worry about writing full length reviews for each book. They were the perfect pool reads and I spent 50% of the time reading them tanning by the pool and wishing I had the wealth and personal trainers these characters had. I definitely think there’s been a shift to more ~meaningful~ writing in YA now but this series is so indulgent that I still love it.
Stay tuned for our final post on Friday when we recap our final thoughts and emotions on revisiting this series, and how it’s held up to the test of time!