Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Georgetown Academy: Season One

Georgetown Academy: Season One
By: Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting
Published By: Coliloquy
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Page Count: Available in e-book Format Only
Buy it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Source: Kindle, Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fiction

NOTE: Season One is a collection of the first four titles in the Georgetown Academy series.  This review is for all four titles.

From the start, I loved the idea of these books and jumped at the chance to review them - with their backdrop of Washington DC politics (I'm a political junkie and I love vacationing in DC), the Gossip-Girl-esque drama (I watched the show for several seasons and reveled in the frivolity of it all), and an updated "Choose Your own Adventure" feature (I absolutely loved those books as a kid!) they were right up my alley. And though I went in eagerly with high hopes, I found that the first four books in the Georgetown Academy series just weren't able to give me the substance I look for in a four or five birdie review. But you all know that "man cannot live on bread alone" and these four titles were a decent break from the heavier stuff I'm reading right now - all four books are light reads, filled with enough romance, backstabbing, and excess to rival any soap opera on daytime TV.

Each of the four main characters (Ellie, Brinley, Evan, and Taryn) can be broken down into typical characters you see in YA books and movies - the beta good girl, the alpha bad girl, the pretty brain, and the new girl/DC outsider, and they don't often deviate from those roles. Each girl has a secret they're hiding and I found certain characters (Taryn) more enjoyable than others, though none of them are among my favorites. I just like more substance in my characters, even for "fluff" reads. There was too much time spent establishing the excess, wealth and power these girls (and their parents) had and not enough on THEM. I also like at least one character to have some redeeming qualities, but each girl has moments (some much more frequently than others) where they rationalize their drug use, cheating, libelous behavior, etc. as necessary. I work with teenagers every day and even the most spoiled and inane ones have moments of humanity that didn't often appear for these girls. In this series, the characters who take action based on their consciences are the love interests and I found myself enjoying those characters more than the girls.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the escapism of books like this and am sure girls who live like this do exist, but I just didn't find the scenarios and actions believable as a whole. The authors attempt to insert varying levels of hardship into the girls' lives, but it ultimately isn't successful because the stories focus so much on the luxury and excess, with shopping trips to Paris for school clothes, vacations with the President of the United States, and 24/7 chauffeurs to avoid any DUI's that might befall them. I also found the plot lines too predictable - I predicted every hook-up from Book One on and only one thing in all four books caught me off guard (beginning of Book Four, I won't spoil it for you though :) ). 

A final point of contention, which has absolutely nothing to do with the writing, is the "Choose Your Own Adventure" (CYOA) feature and technology; it frustrated me and on more than one occasion it made me put my Kindle down and take a break. If you're like me, you still read every path in the CYOA books even though you aren't supposed to (bad reader, not following directions! ;) ) and part of the reason the CYOA appeals to you is that you can see how things turn out differently when different decisions are made (à la the movie Sliding Doors). The CYOA feature in the Georgetown Academy series is set up so the reader can view a single evening through the lens of a different girl each time. While this is still pretty cool, it didn't really offer any new perspective on the events or motivations for me (à la Midnight Sun) and the technology is frustrating. Each time I wanted to go back to the decision point to start another path, my Kindle took me elsewhere in the story and (I'm assuming here because I haven't had this trouble with any other e-books) because of the CYOA technology, the Kindle locations were all out of whack and made no sense.

Final Word: A drama-filled read with really good clothes. The Choose Your Own Adventure technology needs some work and there aren't a ton of deep, meaningful themes, but it's a decent light, fluffy read.

Goodreads Summary

Available for the first time in a single volume, the first four books of the Georgetown Academy series have been hailed by Gossip Girl producer, Josh Schwartz, as “Smart, sexy and insanely addictive.” Now it’s your turn to get hooked.

Meet Ellie, Brinley, Evan, and Taryn — Four sophomores at Georgetown Academy, D.C.’s most exclusive private school, where among the exclusive parties and perfectly manicured lawns, student life seems drama-free. But everyone always has something to hide.

Everyone wants a piece of Ellie Walker and her Senator mom, but Ellie’s always been happy to cede the spotlight. Kind-hearted, sweet, and half of G.A.’s perfect power couple, Ellie has it all…until her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, moves back to town and turns her world upside down leaving her to choose between love and loyalty.

Brinley Madison, of those Madisons, relishes her family’s status as the ultimate D.C. insiders. While her political strategist father plays kingmaker, Brinley maneuvers behind the scenes in school and at home. Brinley knows better than to keep a secret that could hurt her family, but sometimes desire turns to addiction, putting the family reputation at risk.

Evan Hartnett doesn’t have the typical pedigree of a G.A., student. In fact, she has no pedigree at all. Her academic scholarship may get her access to the classroom, but she’s still on the outside looking in…until a series of unexpected boyfriends rocket her to national attention.

Taryn Reyes’ laid-back, bohemian vibe doesn’t exactly mesh with her new surroundings, but she’s remarkably secure and unconcerned. But after her first run-in with D.C.’s dirty politics, she finds out that keeping her integrity and her heart intact may be harder than she thinks.


  1. I think you did a great job looking over the reasons why this would and would not wok for our readers; great job!

  2. Wow, too bad the choose your own adventure thing wasn't implemented better, because it sounds like a very cool idea!


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