Rule 1: All's fair in love, war and popularity...Kat Elliot is no social butterfly: she's spent her life rebelling against phony schmoozing - and it's led her nowhere. Just as she's ready to give up her dreams and admit defeat, in steps Lauren Anderville. One-time allies against their school bullies, Lauren and Kat had been inseparable. Then one year later Lauren returned from summer camp - blonde, bubbly and suddenly popular, and Kat was left to face the world alone. Lauren finally wants to make amends by teaching Kat the secret to her success: "The Popularity Rules". A decades-old rulebook, its secrets transformed Lauren that fateful summer. And so, tempted by Lauren's promises of glitzy parties and the job she's always dreamed of, Kat reluctantly submits to a total makeover - only to find that life with the in-crowd might have something going for it after all. But while Lauren has sacrificed everything to get ahead, is Kat really ready to accept that popularity is the only prize that counts?
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Twenty-four year old Abby McDonald grew up in Sussex, England and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She began writing at college, becoming music editor of the Oxford Student and completing her first novel. She has since worked as a music journalist and entertainment critic, interviewing acts as diverse as LeAnn Rimes, The Kings of Leon, and Marilyn Manson. Her writing has appeared in the NME, Plan B magazine, CosmoGirl!, and a variety of websites and blogs. In March 2009, her debut novel for teens, Sophomore Switch, was published by Candlewick Press. The Popularity Rules is her first novel for adults.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
All's fair in love, war and popularity.
Whatever they told you is a lie: grades, good behaviour and hard work mean nothing. Popularity is the only prize that counts.
The popular kids get an easy ride their whole lives. Not because they're special or smart, but because they know how to lie and cheat and manipulate their way to the top. Popularity isn't friendship, it's power and status you can use to win everything you want. Why settle for cast-offs? Become popular, and everything else follows: the homecoming crown or the corner office, it makes no difference. If you want to get anywhere in life, you've got to play dirty.
The meek don't inherit a thing.
Nice girls win nothing but regret.
Virtue is wholly overrated.
If you don't do it, some other girl will.
Never fall in love with a rock star. That's what Katherine Elliot's mentor had said on her first day at Think Louder magazine: never fall in love with a rock star, and carry pepper spray at all times. Alan was gone now, of course, and Kat was no longer the same wide-eyed girl whose hand shook transcribing notes from her first big interview, but she did her best to impart that wisdom to all the other new hires.
If only they would listen.
"Are you OK?" Kat wanted to use the toilets before the main act arrived onstage, but a weeping blonde blocked her way to the cubicles.
"Wha...what?" The girl raised her head long enough to fix Kat with a pathetic stare, blue eyes smudged black.
"Jessica, isn't it?" Kat recognised her latest intern under the wispy fringe and moved closer. "What's wrong?"
Jessica sniff led. "You wouldn't understand."
"Try me." Kat might not share the intern's penchant for hot-pink mini-dresses, but she knew a thing or two about broken hearts.
"It's...it's over!" Jessica broke down again. "He said he, he needed some space. And, like, we were better off apart. And...!" Burying her head in her hands, Jessica resumed her sobs, this time louder than ever.
No, they never listened.
As Jessica shook with lovelorn sorrow, Kat looked around for support, but they were still alone in the dark tiled bathroom with nothing but the low hum of the air-conditioning as interruption. "Let me guess," she murmured, stroking the girl's shoulders in comforting circles. "He's in a band, and things are really happening for them, but he's so committed to his music, it just wouldn't be fair on you to stay together."
"How did you know?" Jessica blinked at her in surprise.
Kat tried not to laugh. "Just a hunch." She passed a handful of tissues, wondering if things ever changed. Twenty-eight was too young to feel this jaded, but in a world populated by barely legal ingénues in leggings and "vintage" nineties denim, Kat was practically ancient. "Clean yourself up and go enjoy the show, and don't waste any more time crying over him," she advised. "There are hundreds of guys like that in London. I bet he'll even come crawling back once his major label deal falls through."
"Right, he will, he totally will." Jessica brightened.
"That's not a good thing!" Kat exclaimed, but the intern wasn't listening.
"Devon's probably just scared." She turned to the mirror and set about repairing her eye makeup. "You know, with the intensity of it. He did say he'd never felt this way before."
"Right..." Kat was still spinning from the girl's sudden mood change. "Wait, did you say Devon?"
Jessica glanced down, faux-coy. "Devon Darsel. You can't tell anyone; we've been keeping things quiet."
"I bet you have." Kat's sympathy quickly dissolved. Devon was notorious on the scene: the pale-faced lead singer of a hotly tipped rock act, he was the kind of tortured artist who could make even the most bitter journalists start gushing things like "Shakespearean eloquence" and "air of dissolute tragedy." He also had a penchant for the Think Louder interns. Kat shook her head, watching Jessica hopefully apply another layer of electric-blue mascara. She was getting off lightly; the last junior writer to enjoy Devon's affections had f led back to Birmingham with nothing but a broken heart and a suspicious burning sensation to show for her grand love affair.
"Thanks Kate," Jessica beamed, surveying her ref lection one final time. "You're the best."
"It's Kat," she corrected, but the girl had already sashayed back into the bar, no doubt in search of another boy to break her heart. "And you're welcome..."
As career planning went, serial seduction wasn't bad; it was certainly cheaper than plying writers with cocaine like most of the other edgy Brit-rock bands. But as Kat reluctantly wandered back into the main room of a too-cool East London bar, she had to admit that Devon didn't need to stoop to those kinds of tactics. No, The Alarm was actually going to make it, unlike the opening act that night. It was an invite-only industry showcase, so the room was thick with air-kisses and skinny jeans, and everyone was ignoring the poor performer stranded onstage with her electronic keyboard and a single spotlight.
Taking pity on her, Kat found a corner of relative calm and began to make notes until a PR girl swooped into view.
"Hiya!" Oblivious to Kat's reluctance, the girl leaned in and bestowed the ubiquitous air-kiss, almost falling out of her white vest in the process. "Oh my God, you're not drinking!" she exclaimed, eyes wide. "Let me f ix that."
"Don't worry, I never drink on the job." Kat shrugged. The glossed pout dropped open.
"Never?" she echoed, her mind clearly boggling as she tried to comprehend a work-night without hilarious tequila blackouts and vaguely consensual hook-ups.
"Never." Kat repeated with a small smile.
"Oh." A frown, then recovery. "So, like, enjoy the show! I know you're going to love these guys. They manage to capture the harsh nature of inner-city deprivation and urban struggle with incredible insight." That last sentence was recited with such a f lat edge that it had to have been ripped from the press release. "Anyways, it was great to see you-we must catch up sometime!" The girl stretched her lips into another gleaming smile and then was gone, leaving Kat in a cloud of such insincerity, she felt her teeth itch from the aspartame.
Soho or Shoreditch, it made no difference: the scene was always the same. Hipsters, scenesters, general "-ers" of the week-the trends changed with dizzying speed, but the core of uber-cool chameleons remained, parading around the VIP section like it was a personal catwalk. At f irst, Kat had found them an amusement, but years of being ignored by the same faces at every show had left her uneasy and a little resentful. She didn't have to put up with it, she knew, but whenever she was tempted to quit music journalism for an industry where people had principles, convictions even, all Kat had to do to restore faith in her chosen profession was cue up her favourite song in the world.
On the bus, in the off ice, even hiding in the corner of a car-crash event like this, there was one song that could restore her sanity, her belief in music as something more than a f leeting background soundtrack or pretext for a shallow, drunken party like the rest of the piranhas here tonight. Abandoning her notebook and the chatter around her, Kat slipped her headphones in place and for a few moments, escaped.
Soaring chords, heartfelt lyrics and a melody she could feel shivering behind her ribcage; it swelled, surged, broke like nothing she'd heard before, or since. The reclusive singer, Eliza Monroe, had released only one album in the last decade, and her tiny, self-run label ignored every one of Kat's impassioned pleas for an interview, but somehow that just added to the mystery. It was the one track Kat could never capture in a few well-crafted phrases, the piece of magic she had yet to convey printed on the page.
But God, she loved to try.
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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2009. Book Condition: New. Ships from the UK. BRAND NEW. Bookseller Inventory # GRP73134558
Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 480 pages. 7.76x5.08x1.18 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0099533898