The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

June 28, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): This book is a prequel to Bushnell’s novel Sex and the City, and takes the reader back to Carrie Bradshaw’s high school days. It’s senior year, and Carrie suffers from the same kind of angst that every other 17-year-old in the world (and everyone who has been to high school and moved on) can relate to. She has boyfriend troubles. She has family troubles. She worries about getting into Brown. She worries about being on “queen bee” Donna LaDonna’s shit list.

The main storyline deals with Carrie’s relationship with Sebastian Kydd, the rich, good-looking transfer student who got kicked out of an elite private school. Carrie enjoys spending time with him, and even thinks she might be in love at one point. But she can’t bring herself to sleep with him, which opens the door for best friend Lali to steal Sebastian away. This leads to the usual turmoil, and preoccupies Carrie for most of the year.

Other storylines involve George, a Brown University student who persistently asks Carrie out, but whom she cannot bear to date; Walt, Carrie’s longtime friend who comes out of the closet; and various family-related catastrophes, ranging from sister Dorritt’s runaway attempt to an unfair grounding and the overprotective instincts of Mr. Bradshaw.

The only links the reader gets between this novel and the Sex and the City television show are mentions of Carrie wanting to live in New York, her affinity for writing, and a phone call to Samantha Jones on the last page.

Liked:

  • There were times that I could see the Carrie from the TV show peeking through, particularly when the Carrie of this book asked herself a string of semi-rhetorical questions, much like Sarah Jessica Parker’s voiceovers on the show.
  • Even though I knew it was coming (the book is pretty predictable), I couldn’t help but smile appreciatively when Samantha Jones answered the phone.

Disliked:

  • Everything about Carrie’s relationship with Sebastian just seemed off. I mean, he treated her like crap, so it was hard to see why she was so keen on keeping him. Was it just because “everyone else” was having sex? If so, then why didn’t she go ahead and sleep with him? He didn’t seem like much of a catch, and was quite a boring character. I wish he hadn’t been featured so prominently.
  • Most of the storylines were boring. Granted, I’m probably not the intended audience here, as this is considered a “Young Adult” book rather than something for fans of the TV show, but still… I’ve read other books featuring high school student, and they weren’t this dull. This felt like a long, drawn-out episode of 90210 or something.
  • The story didn’t flow all that well. The chapters were choppy, and the transitions practically nonexistent. At times, I felt as though there might have been pages missing because of how the scenes changed and the dialogue went on as though the previous few pages hadn’t just happened. It was weird.
  • The time period was kind of hard to figure out. I know from just watching the show that This had to be the 80’s, so I wasn’t expecting Carrie et al. to talk about the latest iphone accessories, but it didn’t exactly feel like the 80’s either, what with the kids being able to waltz into that bar/restaurant to order alcohol or whatever.
  • Maggie and Peter were just annoying. What was the point of featuring them so prominently?
  • I just knew George’s aunt would turn out to be that feminist author that Carrie met before. As I said earlier, the writing was just sooo predictable. I mean, Bushnell only mentioned ONE female author, so who else would the aunt have been? I just don’t know why she had to make it a big secret and act like the reveal was some major surprise.

Rating:

I was thoroughly disappointed in The Carrie Diaries. If you’re a fan of Sex and the City and are looking to get some insight into what made Carrie the adult she became, you won’t find it here. This Carrie is a far cry from the one we know on screen, and this book is too boring to waste your time or money on. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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