gossip girl

TV Review: Gossip Girl 1.01 – Pilot

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Back where it all began, in the first episode of the first season. The mysterious Serena van der Woodsen is back after her disappearance last year, and Blair is trying to ‘seal the deal’ with her boyfriend Nate.

Serena van der Woodsen
Serena is the first character we’re introduced to, who returns to New York after a year away at boarding school. Her disappearance to boarding school was abrupt and unexplained, and her return is met with hostility from her best friend, Blair Waldorf, and awkward conversations with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate. In this episode, Serena is accosted by Chuck Bass, a boy from school, and ends up going on a date with Dan Humphrey to see his father’s band. We learn that her return to New York was caused by the attempted suicide of Serena’s brother Eric. We also learn that she left after sleeping with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, at the Shepherd wedding, which was witnessed with Chuck.

Blair Waldorf
Blair is the daughter of a fashion designer, and is dating the very handsome Nate Archibald. Spurred by Serena’s sudden return, she decides to sleep with Nate for the first time, but he reveals he slept with her best friend, Serena, last year. Blair also hosts the Kiss On The Lips party, but actively decides not to invite Serena, who left abruptly last summer and didn’t inform her of her return.

Nate Archibald
Nate is the boyfriend of Blair Waldorf, who slept with her best friend, Serena, the year before, when Nate and Blair were still dating – they have been dating since Kindergarten. After revealing this information, we see him forced into reconciling with Blair as his father wants to sweeten a deal with Blair’s mother and her fashion company.

Dan Humphrey
Dan is the kid who doesn’t fit in – he doesn’t live on the Upper East Side, and he lives in a loft with his father Rufus and his sister Jenny. He is hopelessly in love with Serena van der Woodsen, who he ‘accidentally’ bumps into at a hotel where she asks him on a date. They end up going to see Dan’s dad’s band, and then saving his little sister Jenny from Chuck Bass. Dan is often ignored and is ‘invisble’ to others at school, including Nate and Chuck.

(also can we mention how ‘accidentally’ bumping into a girl is quite creepy!)

Jenny Humphrey
Jenny is Dan’s younger sister who aspires to fit in with the kids at school, and makes copies of designer dresses she likes on her sewing machine. She gains an invite to the Kiss On The Lips party in exchange for addressing all of the invitations, and is taken advantage of by Chuck Bass who plies her with alcohol and forces himself on her.

Chuck Bass
Chuck is the resident ‘bad boy’ which is a bit of an understatement in this episode – he forces himself on two girls (Jenny and Serena) and tries to persuade Nate to sleep with Blair. I’m not impressed with him as a character at this point but his behaviour isn’t condoned and he is confronted by Dan at the end of the episode.

Other notes
There is so much music in this pilot! Every scene is accompanied by cinematic shots of New York and some tune.
Hints at a past romance between Rufus Humphrey and Lily van der Woodsen.
Pilot starts and ends with a similar shot of Serena staring out of a window pensively.

Non-Fantasy/Dystopian YA authors to try!

I’m packing up my books this week as I’ll be leaving university at the end of this year and my schedule leaves about 3 weeks holiday between now and July, so I’m getting a good look at some of those books hidden on my shelves!

A rut I definitely got in when starting out with YA was that I just loved the Genre of the Day – and so my shelves are full of vampire novels and dystopians. However, there are some series I’ve really enjoyed which aren’t your typical YA book, and they’re great to try if you’re getting bored of the same-old YA books which come out year after year.

Meg Cabot

I know Meg Cabot through the Princess Diaries series – which has recently rebooted – but she’s actually written a few bestselling series. The Mediator series has rave reviews – but is also fantasy. The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble, The Boy series, and the Heather Well series (which starts with Size 12 is Not Fat) should all be fantasy-free, amusing and fun to read. (The Princess Diaries also led to two Disney films, although they do not follow the plot of the books exactly).

Louise Rennison

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series is hilarious and brilliantly British. Georgia is a typical British girl on the cusp of becoming a woman, and we follow her as she discovers boys, snogging, and how embarrassing parents can be. There’s 10 books in total but they’re so easy to read and enjoyable (and not too long either) that it’s easy to fly through them. Rennin’s latest series is the Misadventures of Tallulah Casey series, which is very much in the same vein as the first series – in fact, Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin. I’d definitely give this series a go if you’re in a reading slump – and the movie is pretty funny, too.

Morgan Matson

The only Morgan Matson book I’ve read so far is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which is a classic American road trip story (which are always fun, right?). Since then, Morgan has published two more stand-alone books, with another, The Unexpected Everything, coming in 2016. Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone are on my TBR list.

Ally Carter

I absolutely loved the Gallagher Girls series, which follows a student at a Spy School for Girls, Cammie Morgan, and her emerging love life with a fellow spy. These books are only about 300 pages long, so short enough to devour in a day or two. Heist Society is a book I actually own, but haven’t got round to reading yet, but the series (which currently has three books) is in the same vein as Gallagher Girls. Her new Embassy Row series looks exciting too. These books are a little more Middle Grade than YA, so great starter books for easing into the YA world.

Sarah Dessen

When I first got into YA, Sarah Dessen was reigning queen of love stories. Her books are stand-alone, so easy to pick up just one and know you’re not going to face a devastating cliff-hanger at the end – and all of her books have stellar reviews on GoodReads so definitely well worth a dip into. I’ve read Just Listen, The Truth about Forever and Lock & Key but if you’re looking for her most recent work, Saint Anything was released in May.

Cecily von Ziegesar

The Gossip Girl series is 13 books long, but they’re very short and fun books (although a little expensive – still £7.99 each on Amazon). These are the source material for the CW show of the same name (which I absolutely love) although the show deviates quite heavily from the books. There are two spin-off book series too – Gossip Girl: The Carlyles follows the Carlyle triplets, and The IT Girl follows GG alum Jenny Humphrey at boarding school.

Honorary mentions: John Green (who else) and Rainbow Rowell (of course).

Who are your favourite YA authors? What are your favourite non-fantasy series? Comment below or tweet at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x