Monday, 28 June 2010
Review: Million Dollar Mates by Cathy Hopkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: July 8th, 2010
Grade rating: B/B+
Jess Hall's dad is the new general manager at Porchester Park, and is moving Jess, her brother and pet cat into a staff apartment there. Jess is dreading the move, until she learns the apartments are strictly A-list only and soon to be populated by actors, musicians, models and millionaires...But fraternising with the stars isn't all it's cracked up to be, and soon Jess is wishing for a return to real-life - but can she admit to her friends that the gilded cage isn't quite as golden as she'd anticipated?
Now, don't be alarmed, but this is the first Cathy Hopkins book I've ever read. I know, I know - how can I call myself a YA blogger and lover of children's books? My only explanation is that I've never got around to trying any of her titles, and never knew which to start with. I think the first in the Million Dollar Mates series was a great place to start, and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to read it.
The cover of Million Dollar Mates suggests - at least to me - a fun, flighty read with plenty of girly talk and best friends doing their thing. While it does indeed include all this, it's also a lot deeper and serious than I thought it would be. It deals with the loss of a parent and a separated family, a big house move to a posh place, and themes of guilt and grieving. Hopkins tackles all these issues with a great attitude, and instead of weighing the book down, they add an unexpected air of maturity to the plot.
Jess is a cool character, who handles the move to Porchester Park as well as anyone would, with a couple of angsty meltdowns along the way. She makes new friends and reconnects with her dad, while pursuing her crush, Tom, at the same time. Her best friend Pia is a secondary character with a spark to her, and I enjoyed reading about their friendship. It reminded me of friends I had when I was 14, which is always a fun topic to reminisce about! I can't not mention the boys, of course. Tom or JJ... who will she choose? That little unresolved teaser has left me desperately wanting the next book in the series, because I do have a favourite of the two. I won't say who, though, so you can decide for yourself when you read it.
I would have liked a bit more depth to the other characters in Million Dollar Mates; Jess's dad and brother Charlie in particular. I think they fell to the wayside slightly, which is perfectly understandable when other central characters steal the limelight. Maybe we'll hear more from them as the series progresses, along with Porchester Park's imminent new arrivals. I think things will get very interesting in Paparazzi Princess, which is due for publication in January 2011.
Million Dollar Mates impressed me, and was a great introduction to the world of Cathy Hopkins. I think all teenage girls will take something away from it, whether it's how to deal with the loss of a family member, how to hook your crush or what not to do with a cat trapped in a summerhouse. It's a perfect read for this hot British summer we're having, and I look forward to getting back to Porchester Park next year!