What if the country's economy was turned around by having teenagers running everything? What if kids were chosen in middle school to become fashion designers, movie producers, media stars and then the rest of the population followed whatever trends they set, no matter how extreme? Doesn't that seem a little drastic? But that is just what has happened in the society that Ivy and Marla live in. We're not given a specific date, but it seems to be fairly near to our time, though still a bit futuristic. Ivy Wilde is a top pop star with a carefully created and maintained persona; her manager and publicist choose her songs, her clothing, even her boyfriend. Marla Klein is a superior court judge at one of the top five fashion houses, choosing which clothing will be endorsed and produced by the company and what the newest trends will be. But their paths cross at just the right time and they collaborate on a project that all the "Silents" (adults working behind the scenes in the big corporations), don't like at all. Will they stand their ground or cave in to the pressure and conform?
This story takes a lot of current issues and shows what happens when they become accepted as the norm. For instance, Ivy's publicist arranges her entire schedule, including how often she should be drunk and disorderly in public to keep up her "wild girl" image. Torro-LeBlanc, the design house where Marla works, cautions her that she is showing too many individual opinions during the court sessions. They say she needs to be more cohesive with the other judges. And in the background of all this glitz and glamour are sweat shops with underage workers where all the beautiful new trends are manufactured and all the "adequates" who receive a normal education and work in offices or as doctors or other necessary professions, feel envious of those "tapped" to leave school early for one of the elite positions. Who wouldn't want to shake things up in an environment like that?
Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Ivy and Marla, the book moves at a fast pace and keeps the reader guessing about what will happen next. Will this person actually rebel against expectations? Will that one turn out to be an ally or a foe? Who will win, the corporations or the individuals? And there is also a smidgen of romance mixed in, but I can't tell you who winds up with whom.
If you like stories about underdogs taking on the big shots of the world, about individuals trying to find their place and a career that actually fulfills them creatively and individually, and about finding out how far you are willing to go to pursue your dreams, then you should give Material Girls a try.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.