Saturday, May 13, 2017

Confessions of a Teen Nanny Young Adult Book Series Review

She has displaced anxiety, and she used me as a surrogate for releasing her misplaced emotions of hostility against her mother. Alternatively, yeah, we do young adult book reviews now!

What is it? A set of three young adult novels published between 2005-2006 under Simon & Schuster, and now I bet you're really appreciating we do this info introduction bit because you'd probably be lost without it and this is why I keep insisting we do this.
Where did it air? Well, ummm...it's a book series. I managed to find all three books through my local library system, and you can no doubt find them on Amazon, used book specialist sites and maybe your local used book store.
Who stars in it? Well, ummm...a bunch of words on paper, but it's written by Victoria Ashton who describes herself as being of the same cloth as the ultra-rich socialites she writes about.
Why are we reviewing this? Haven't you heard? Yeah, we do young adult book reviews now!

Happy Birthday, Debby Ryan! And, umm...oh, yeah, Happy Birthday ME! Welcome to not one by two special Birthday Blog posts! Our first one will look at, well, you can read the blog post title and the infodump we just did above.

Confessions of a Teen Nanny had been on my reading list for a while now (I'll get into a little bit in the next post about why I'm so into young adult books - besides the fact that, yeah, it's literally my job now with my position and specialty in the publishing industry, yay!) and given the external plot similarities to the series and Debby's best-known series so far, Jessie, I figure it's natural to reserve reading it for her birthday. I mean, teen nanny has to take care of bratty family in an ultra-posh Manhattan penthouse? Check! The eponymous teen nanny even has red hair, so check that! Going into it my hopes weren't exactly high, but I was still hoping for an enjoyable if not ultra-fluffy, light read that'd still swim in my mind for a little bit as the world (hopefully) relaxes and chills for the upcoming summer months. Even the covers in particular represent a certain irreverent yet carefree, child-like whimsy that was a big draw for me:

...I dunno why it's upside-down like that.

Yeah, just about the only thing I got right was the light reading part. I zoomed through all three books in less than four hours (though keep in mind I'm also a speed reader, something that's been pretty helpful in my profession, needless to say).

But man, what a disappointment. 

See, during the mid-2000s young adult/teen lit was dominated by empty lifestyle-worship. One of the most infamous offenders was The Clique which...well, you best perhaps just read the TVTropes link (or you can do what I did and spend half a month reading all 24 books). Rather than the whimsical Mary Poppins-but-21st-century-teen story I was expecting I got...pretty much The Clique but they're teen babysitters instead of, uh, teen non-babysitters. The interactions between the two protagonists and their charges are interesting enough (and indeed there are a scary number of parallels and similarities to this series and Jessie - the aforementioned ginger nanny in charge of a girl named Emma, the Manhattan penthouse complete with stuffy butler and direct-access elevator, and so on) but it's clear the dominating narrative is between the older (as in even older than the nannies) half-sister who butts in in the worst way possible, flitting inane love interests that don't go anywhere other than "if you fall for a guy who's a jerk, you're going to discover that that guy is a jerk" and pretty lengthy descriptions of fashion choices. The narrative also randomly weaves in and out between the two protagonists which, while there are clear breaks it does make it somewhat disorienting and even jarring as very rarely the two narratives are connected beyond the fact that they involve best friend nannies. Yeah, sure, I'd love to have the action between Liz and her charge Heather see if they can perform during their equestrian competition be broken up right during its climax so we can meet up with Adrienne just learning that her rich boyfriend is indeed a droll jerk.

Overall Series Grade: C+. Look, I'm all for promoting media with ginger heroines in them (more in that in the immediate follow-up post) but...this is about the dictionary picture of a C+ here. Unsurprisingly this is Victoria Ashton's only fiction foray (that probably should've been my first hint) and her only other published work is a memoir about...lap band surgery? I don't mean to shame people who undergo this more often than not absolutely necessary procedure but...it just strikes me as a bit too Dr. Phil for my usual tastes, as buried in teen chick lit as they are.
Favorite Character: Probably Adrienne by default as she's halfway developed, maybe Emma or Heather, the latter of which actually manages to be rather quite adorable and precocious all things considered.

Extra Thoughts:

 - again, Happy Birthday to Debby Ryan, and Happy Birthday to me!

 - as you can see we've replaced "Episode/Movie MVP" with "Favorite Character" for our book reviews, and our previous book reviews will be changed to reflect that (which is exactly one, when we reviewed The Swap ahead of its DCOM adaptation).

 - So here's something I consider to be an early birthday present: Last Man Standing got canceled! I wouldn't have such ill-will against the show itself if it isn't for the infamous response we got from the one time we reviewed the show (where we gave it a positive review!) that pretty much convinced me that this show's fandom lives down to every stereotype liberal comedians can possibly throw at Trump voters. So to the LMS fandom I say: suck it down hard, bitches.

Yeah, there ain't no fuckin' love lost between me and the LMS fandom.


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