“And how are we?”

Meredith, Imogen, Kerry, Cameron and Catherine glide gracefully through life as social royalty, or at least they seem to glide. The champagne flutes are overflowing with class and classic couture dresses for these five perfectly ‘beau’ narcissists living in the lap of Malone Park’s luxury. But don’t be fooled, life is not as effortless as it looks, these socialites have a busy schedule of manipulation, gossip and all things bitchy to keep up with.

This is a world where manipulation is the new black and a name-drop in Tatler is all it takes to secure a place on the guest list of every party. Naturally the social elite of each school year band together in judgement, to form an all-reigning super-clique of queen bees, BFFs and taggers-on. Together they are fantastically rich and impossibly beautiful and don’t they just know it!

Don’t be fooled that these girls (and Cameron) live an entirely charmed life. They must endure deadly, glamour-threatening maladies such as “mental influenza” and “Fabulous-Induced-Breakdowns” in order to remain gorgeous, popular and 3 rungs higher on the social ladder than anyone else, ever.

These ‘A-listers’ know their way around a social situation; at least they know their own way around a social situation; manipulation. It may look graceful, effortless even; but in reality staying at the top is just as much hard work as clawing your way up there in the first place. There is not a carat of morality here, these girls play to win and they don’t play fair. Melodramatic moments there are a plenty, but real life emotions are hard to come by in this novel. Unless you peer underneath the veneer of vapidity to find that these girls have two motivations; popularity and…oh no that’s just it, they really are that focused? Or is the word self-obsessed?

The dialogue is like as flawlessly applied as their make-up, despite their class they are like still teenagers and stuff. Their speech is like saturated with dramatic hyperbole in like that totally annoying way that teenagers speak, regardless of Daddy’s income and stuff. Infuriating it may be, but Russell perfectly captures teen vocabulary and takes me right back like to my own school days, and stuff, with an overdose of ‘like’ and a smattering of OMG’s.

This is what makes these characters both infuriating and unbelievably believable. Self-absorbed Imogen, self-congratulatory Kerry and cold-hearted manipulative Meredith are absolutely awful to each other, but I’m left in no doubt they really are best friends, who are traitorous and fiercely loyal to the end.

It would be fantastically easy to detest each of these characters and to mock this book endlessly. However, underneath the impression of sugar and spice and all things nice, there is a reality in each of the characters. They frequent cocktail bars and spas like the most sophisticated of adults but ultimately they are teenagers playing dress up. They go through all the stock teenage-girl-problems; from boyfriend troubles to attention grabbing dresses and copied hairstyles, these girls are, after all, just girls. Here lies the iota of humanity in these characters, they are somewhat relatable for small moments of the novel and in those other moments they are just incredibly funny…

‘I was too busy basking in my own radiance so couldn’t reply right away’.

This book is above all light, fun and frothy and even when you hate all of the characters they are undoubtedly fabulously entertaining. Their priorities may not be remotely sane but at least their manicures are flawless.