Two Minute Reviews: Trading Up and Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

Monday, July 4, 2011
I apologize for the amount of Two Minute Reviews of late here at .bibliophile..anonymous. They are not my preferred form of review, but I find myself so stretched for time in July (going to Colorado for four days, going to Phoenix for a week, an anniversary trip for me and the boyfriend, my brother has leave from the Marines, my work is insane, etc.) that they are unfortunately unavoidable. I can promise a full-length, detailed review of Becoming Marie Antoinette as soon as I can find time to read the thing. Hopefully, that is one I will finish and review before leaving for Boulder Thursday night. And thus, onto the important stuff: the books.

Title: Trading Up
Genre: contemporary, general fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 320 (paperback version)
Published: July 2003
Rating: 1/5

I truly, sincerely loathed this book. (Let me count the ways...) There are just so many reasons why this book fails: paper-thin plot, horrible unlikable characters with unfathomable aims and unreasonable desires all mixed together. The plot failed to engage me (in fact I hated the whole plot), and continuing the horror there is not one redeeming or likable character in the entire 320 pages you must slough through til the end. And as I am a character-reader
(I tend toward character-driven rather than plot-driven novels
) this was a particularly hard read for me. Also half the time I didn't know where the book was because I'd been so irate at parts of the narrative I threw it across the living room.

In this modern-day New York travesty, the main character, Janey, is self-absorbed, rude, annoying, SUPERFICIAL, and all she wants is a rich man who will take care of her. Those are *seriously* her goals for her life; everything she has achieved on her own is of no merit because she lacks a husband. I have so many issues with the morals and ideals of this character that I am literally flabbergasted. She uses her sister constantly for what she can get from the situation(instead of being there for her sister after more than one life-shaking event, Janey uses her to get into a fancy restaurant and publicity), her lovers, her "best friend"... if I knew a woman that actually acted like Janey, I'd slap her, without compunction.
I've read other books by Bushnell, and thought they were alright, if definitely very far from spectacular or even good. They're readable, possibly just because they are so so bad you can't help but be entertained. This particular story left a very bad taste in my mouth: Janey is possibly my least favorite female protagonist of the last year. And that's saying something. AVOID AVOID AVOID this novel if you've a working brain and don't want to throw a book across the room.

Continuing my Bushnell torture:

Genre: contemporary, general fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 304 (trade paperback version)
Published: 1996
Rating: 1/5  

As a fan of the ubiquitous, outrageous and beloved show, I had a desire to read the sourc material as I have always always enjoyed the book over the show/movie/puppet re-enaction. This is the very first time (that I can remember) where that is not the case: I'll take the show and even those two atrocious movies over this crapfest. What was a fun, frothy, sexy show with independent and strong women was a soul-crushing excursion into the minds of characters so flat I could apply makeup while standing on them. Candace Bushnell might have had the right idea but she had no idea about how to execute it. Without Darren Star and the writing team at Showtime, the Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and even Carrie we all love or love-to-hate would never even have come close to  existing.

It is a bleak, and entirely off-putting book. There are no real characters, just darkly humorous facsimiles of modern people in a big city. No one is likable; no one even really has a tangible storyline! I have no idea where the writers of the eponymous show found their inspiration for Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha and Carrie: it certainly wasn't in the pages of this book. This was an incredibly depressing and unfulfulling read for me. I'd rather I'd never even started it, but I can't figure out how to unread this tripe.  While it may seem I have a complete total hate-on for Bushnell, this is not true: her expansion into the YA market with the novel The Carrie Diaries had three-dimensional characters and a valid (if weak) plotline that I had fun reading. I just HATED both of these novels to a rather large and voluminous degree, and the characters so so much as well that I'll be needing a nice looooooooong break before I try another of her work.  


  1. Hey, I live just outside of Phoenix, well, kind of. I live in Gilbert ;) I noticed you said visiting for a week. Nice to have another Arizona person!

  2. Wow! I enjoy the honesty. I can see why you gave these shorter reviews. :)

  3. Christina: that's awesome! I live in Flagstaff regularly, but I love trips down to Phoenix. Small world!

    And Libby: haha and this is the restrained version. Hopefully I enjoy the next two more than those! :)

  4. Safe travels! Plus I hope you get some time to recover -- sounds like you've got some craziness between work and your personal life!

    Rarely do I think a film/tv version surpasses a book's origins, but I agree with you on SATC. The tv format allowed the characters to have more depth, I think, and room to grow and change -- and become a little more palatable!

    Can't wait to see what you think of BMA -- I'm starting it next week.

  5. My sister used to live in Flagstaff. It's pretty awesome there, doesn't get as hot as it does here for sure!


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