Did you ever think that the garment industry could be the setting for a dystopian world? Well, hold on to your trend checkers…because it works. The title is not only a clever take on what garments are made of, it also refers to the materiality of youth culture, fashion and entertainment businesses, and the world in general.
In this brave new world, it’s all about being young. When children turn thirteen years of age, the best and the brightest are thrust into various lines of work, from video games to fashion to music. All others continue at school and enter into the more boring professions. These people are called “Adequates” and are generally looked down upon. Because who wouldn’t rather sit on the court of their profession and decide what all of the next big trends will be? Or, better yet, be a famous pop star? Even if you’re washed up by 19?
Marla Klein is on the court of one of the top five fashion houses. What they decide will be the next trend goes. Trends move pretty fast here, so you’d better use your trend checker to scan your outfits before you leave the house just to make sure they are still in style. Marla has to be on top of this, as she is known and scrutinized by the entire population. Her job is one of the best that can be had, unless you count the singer Ivy Wilde. Ivy is crazy, unpredictable, get in trouble, and has a hot boyfriend. Even though that’s all manufactured by her record label, she is so worried that the next big thing will rise up and overtake her that she allows them to call the shots.
No one knows who is at the top of each of these businesses; and though they claim to be silent partners, it becomes clear to Marla and Ivy that the Silents have more control over their lives and futures than Marla and Ivy once realized. When Marla is demoted from the court to the lowest position in the company, she meets others who don’t agree with how things are done. Slowly, she comes to understand that the current system doesn’t work and it needs to be changed. Does this mean revolution?
A new take on dystopia, this book questions the influence of youth culture and how important it has become to our lives, no matter what your age. Actors and musicians are young (or at least look it), teenagers and what they like and do and buy seem to be the driving force behind all trends. Plastic surgery, diets, spa treatments…they all aim to keep us looking young. There is no longer any value in maturity or finding your voice later in life. After 19, are we all past our prime and have nothing to add to the conversation?
Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos is published today, May 5, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley.
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian Romance
Ages: 13 and up
FYI: Sexual situations; profanity; underage drinking; drug use.