I wasn't sure what to expect with The Regulars, Georgia Clark's new novel. What I ended up getting was an entertaining, thought-provoking, feminist novel that I did not want to put down. Bonus: it had a hint of magic which I loved and which, I think, makes it a novel that will stand out from the all the other books about twentysomethings in NYC.
Here's the synopsis:
Best friends Evie, Krista, and Willow are just trying to make it through their mid-twenties in New York. They’re regular girls, with average looks and typical quarter-life crises: making it up the corporate ladder, making sense of online dating, and making rent.
Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well...gorgeous. Like, supermodel gorgeous. And it’s certainly not their fault if the sudden gift of beauty causes unexpected doors to open for them.
But there’s a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-day Cinderellas, there’s just one question left:
What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?
It's been too long since I've read a contemporary novel with a magical twist. I hadn't realized I was missing stories like this! Everything about this novel is placed in reality - except for Pretty and it's side effects. I loved fantasy books as a kid but, as I got older, I found I wasn't reading them nearly as often. So, when I find a book like The Regulars, I'm pretty happy and it makes me want to look into more magic realism type stories. (Suggestions welcome!) Although...I have to say the way the girls turn pretty after taking the potion is...well, it's ridiculous. I'm not going to go into it because it's, er, messy, but even I found it far-fetched and unnecessary.
There were a few things that I wished had been wrapped up or, at the very least, not glossed over. For example, Krista is an actress and when her supermodel gorgeous alter ego, Lenka, gets hired for a movie, she gives the HR department her, Krista's, social so she can get paid. The girls say that's probably fine because she can just say Lenka is a stage name. But (slight spoiler but you'll see it coming), Evie-as-Chloe gets hired to be the host for the webseries the magazine Evie works for is starting. There is no mention, that I found anyway, of her getting paid. I wouldn't have even noticed this if it hadn't been for Krista's comment. Also, Penny is the woman who gives Krista Pretty and her storyline is left wide open and that frustrated me. Mostly because I wanted to make sure she was OK (she was not in a good place). And what exactly did Jan and Marcello know? I feel like there were hints that maybe they knew about Pretty but nothing was ever really brought to light.
Those looking for sexually diverse characters should take note of this novel. Evie, who is sort of the main heroine, is bisexual. And you know what's great about this book? Her sexual orientation is Not a Big Deal. Is this because Clark herself is gay? (She thanks her partner in the acknowledgements.) Maybe. But equally likely is that the book world is slowly embracing different characters and allowing them out into the world.
Final verdict? The Regulars was a good read. It has a few tiny issues (almost every book does) but it was fun, fresh, and full of flawed characters (which is great because, let's face it, we're all flawed.) Most of all, it's wicked smart. I should caution that is not a book for everyone. If you have to have likeable characters and cannot stand crude humour or sex scenes, skip this book. In the acknowledgements, Georgia Clark says her book was pitched as a "feminist fairy tale" and I absolutely love that. It's exactly the best way to describe it!
*An ARC of this novel was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for review consideration.*