Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

Tags: YA, feminism, cheerleading, secret societies

Rating: 3 out of 5


Jess Parker is used to being the new girl at school. However, she always has her love of cheerleading to fall back on, even when her new teammates at Mt. Sterling High shun her because of a rumor that her archnemesis, Lexy Steele, spreads. Jess has always skirted the outskirts of popularity and inclusion…until she receives a mysterious invitation at the end of her sophomore year, initiating her into a secret society.

The Cindys consist of girls and women around the world who band together to fight the Wickeds and their negative influences. Recent Wickeds activity has been spiking, and in between her regular Cindy training, trying to work past her feelings of self-doubt, and boy intrigue, Jess is selected to undertake a journey that she doesn’t know if she’s capable of doing. Her overwhelming number of responsibilities make Jess wonder, is she really destined to be a Cindy, or has there been a horrible mistake?


Wow. Move over, Barbie, Bratz, and other unrealistic portrayals of females. THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY is an unself-conscious call for girl power, shamelessly girlie and endlessly original.

The message of female empowerment prevails throughout the entire novel, and you don’t need to simply read this as a fun story. As Jess and her Big Sis work their way through the Cindy training, readers will be happy to pick up the empowering tips as well—for example, it’s finding the best style for you that’s important, or that self-confidence and attitude can make or break even the best-looking girl. By pitching this important but often overlooked concept in a secret society novel, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY will bring together all types of female readers, from the seemingly perfect Queens of high school to the lonely misfit. Feminism ties all the excessively girlie components of this story together to make it enjoyable for everyone.

The protagonist, Jess, can be infuriatingly and unjustifiably lacking in self-confidence (because in the grand scheme of things, she is SO much better off than most high school girls), but in the end still becomes a character whose story we’re interested in, and who we can cheer for. Her worries about being the new kid at the beginning of the story are relatable even to those who have not moved nine times in 16 years. However, her reactions of unworthiness once she enters the Society and her sickening preoccupation with her physical makeover were a little disturbing and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Similarly, I found the romance between Jess and her object of interest, the—you guessed it!—star quarterback and Your Royal Sexiness, Ryan Steele, to be saccharinely clichéd. I’ve never fully understood why characters must more often than not be obsessed with their school’s physically perfect quarterback. Ryan’s character does delve into a bit of depth and family tragedy as the story goes along, but not enough to justify the predictability of their interactions, and Jess’ feelings for him.

The plot started out great, but digressed into lessons and chapters of explanation towards the second half of the novel, which was disconcerting for me. The uneven distribution of exciting scenes tempted me to put down the novel in various places, and it was only my intrigue with the way rival, fairy tale-like factions of good vs. evil were portrayed as Cindys vs. Wickeds that kept me going.

Despite rather serious flaws in character and story construction, I still give a thumbs-up to THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY for addressing female empowerment in a way that is easily accessible to those who need it most: teen girls. This story just might become your best friend, regardless of what kind of girl you are, and for teen girls who usually flock to Gossip Girl and Twilight, this series will be a different but great addition your shelves. Look out as Kay Cassidy takes the female readership world by storm!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 2/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - Rather pinkish and excessively girly for my tastes, which could turn off some potential readers, but it should attract those who just might need its message the best: middle school girls. Go, girl power!

EgmontUSA / April 13, 2010 / Hardcover / $16.99

This review is brought to you by One Arc Tours!


  1. Yay for finally a YA book about female empowerment. I can't even remember the last time I read one.
    Thanks for an awesome review!

  2. I never would have thought this was a female empowerment book. Now I guess I will have to read it. Thanks for the review.

  3. I wasn't too crazy about the cover either... but the book carried a good story so you really can't judge a book by its cover xD

  4. Nice honest review. I really liked this book though :)

  5. I completely agree with you about Ryan and her obsession with her makeover. It didn't quite live up to my expectations.

  6. I guess I never thought this book would be about female empowerment, but that's great! Thank for the review :)

  7. Great review. I thought this book might be all fluff, but it's been getting good reviews.

  8. Love YA books with a feminist slant, so I definitely plan to pick it up. Seems like this might be the first writer since Laurie Halse Anderson to really inspire me re girls'/women's issues.

  9. I'm starting to think that I cannot wait to read this book any longer. Thanks for the detailed review, Steph :-)


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