You probably know Tyra Banks best as a model; it was what propelled her into stardom and paved the way for her to appear in several television shows, most notably hosting The Tyra Banks Show and America’s Next Top Model.

In May of 2010, Tyra Banks annouced that she would write a novel, which eventually turned into a planned trilogy. The first book of this trilogy, Modelland, was published in September of 2011 to a rather mixed reception—its current average ratings are 2.86 on Goodreads and 3.1 on Amazon (both out of five stars). Criticisms were made based on poor writing, contrived and nonsensical elements in the story, the characterization of the protagonists, and questionable themes within the story.

I have read the book already, and there really isn’t a way around it: Modelland is not a good book. It’s a pretty bad book. But Modelland is not a horrible book; it is not irredeemable like the Maradonia series. I do not believe that Tyra Banks should give up on writing—I would describe her as an amateur writer. She’s inexperienced and makes many amateur mistakes, but the potential does shine through and I think that, if she takes the criticisms of her first book to heart, she could make the later books in the series into worthwhile reads.

This sporking will go through Modelland one chapter at a time, pointing out issues with the story and writing. It won’t be entirely negative, though—unlike many works I’ve see sporked, Modelland does in fact have some redeeming qualities. It has some things that I liked, several of which are wasted opportunies, and I hope for this sporking to provide insight and advice for other aspiring writers who might end up falling into the same holes that Modelland stumbles into. So without further ado, we shall start on the prologue of Modelland.

The prologue is our first introduction to our narrator, who sounds like a stereotypical fashionista. Our narrator wastes no time telling us what we want.

“You’re obsessed with being chosen. Everyone is.”

We’ll soon see that no, not everyone is obsessed with being chosen.

We get some prose about how “you and every young girl in the world” anticipate The Day of Discovery, particularly about a golden light that shines from Modelland and how a “single lick” of the “naughty tease” “inflames your obsession, increasing your desire a hundredfold”, causing you to “ache to be a 7Seven.”

First off, what if the reader is a boy? The narrator has just called him a girl. Secondly, how do you pronouce “7Seven”? “Seven-seven”?

Making the delirium even more intense, the Land sends seven talismans called SMIZEs into the world. (What an arcane word! Who thought of such a thing?)

As it turns out, “smize” is a word coined by Tyra Banks to refer to smiling with your eyes. Personally, I think it looks odd, but to each their own. Regardless, it doesn’t exactly make me optimistic to see the author bragging about a word they came up with.

We’re told that SMIZEs increase your chance of being chosen on The Day of Discovery by 91% and are distributed through the waterways. The narrator continues to insist that the reader’s only concern is wanting to go to Modelland, mentioning several locations: Metopia, PitterPatter, Shivera, and Peppertown. You may want to keep these names in mind for later. They also hint at darker rumours regarding Modelland—harsh discipline, human sacrifices. And then they make a joke about a literal bloodbath.

We’re then introduced to a recurring element of Modelland: alliteration. (Dun dun dunnnn!) The narrator tells us of the “Pilgram Plague”, an obsession that drives girls to “embark dadless” to Modelland.

And the trek through the dangerous Diabolical Divide always ends in dismembering death.

Ouch.

But despite having been told earlier that every girl wants to go to Modelland, the narrator mentions how there is one girl who doesn’t obsess over Modelland, doesn’t think she’ll be chosen. And it should come as no surprise that that one girl is Tookie De La Crème—our protagonist.

Yes. Tookie De La Crème.

And with the revelation that our protagonist is Speshul and has a stupid name, the prologue ends.

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Comment

  1. swenson on 19 January 2013, 00:23 said:

    Um…

    That reads like a parody of everything ever. It’s got CandyLand-style place names, a protagonist with the most rich-girl-esque name ever, and everyone can already see where it’s going. She gets chosen, obviously. And I already don’t care about her.

    Once I’d like to see one of these things where the main character wants to be in the super special contest but doesn’t make it (no, not even by a dramatic twist of fate), so she has to travel there herself and struggle to get in, either by conniving to knock someone else out, breaking in and pretending she was there all along, forging papers, getting hired as staff and living vicariously through the contestants, something. I also find it rather sad that there are enough “contest” plots now that we can predict them. Is that a Hunger Games thing, do you think? Or reality TV in general?

  2. lilyWhite on 19 January 2013, 00:56 said:

    I didn’t even need to go that recent to figure out the plot. As soon as I read about SMIZEs and their role in the story, I immediately thought, “Golden Ticket.” It doesn’t help that SMIZEs are yellow…

  3. Fair on 19 January 2013, 01:40 said:

    Oh dear…

  4. Master Chief on 19 January 2013, 03:16 said:

    Please tell me that you are pulling our collective legs. There is no way someone could have gotten a book like this published. It is lil Swenson said, a parody of everything ever.

  5. Taku on 19 January 2013, 04:55 said:

    Master Chief: They can if they are an internationally famous supermodel and media personality. Tyra Banks is a supermodel, talk show host, reality television host and judge, has millions of dollars and millions of fans around the world.

    If ‘Snooki” can get it done, Tyra can get it done a thousand times over.

  6. Lone Wolf on 19 January 2013, 07:12 said:

    “Shivera” and the general description of Modelland remind me of Shivering Isles of Bethesda fame.

  7. Tim on 19 January 2013, 07:18 said:

    The term “vanity press” is most accurately applied to any publisher who prints things by people who only believe they can write (eg Tyra Banks, Richard Morgan and all videogame writers ever).

  8. Mingnon on 19 January 2013, 07:43 said:

    Must… avoid… quoting… tyrade…

  9. Pryotra on 19 January 2013, 08:04 said:

    Tookie De La Crème.

    …buttocks of the creme…

    Tehe~

    Oh, I was planning on reviewing this little piece of…joy… Have fun with the underground land of albino people with red eyes, and drunk narrator who occasionally walks in, and of course the down right creepy mentor.

    Oh, and raising your chances of being chosen by 91% isn’t a big deal. Think of it. If you had a chance of 1% and that was increased by 91%, you’re still not going to have a good chance. I think she meant to 91%.

  10. Danielle on 19 January 2013, 10:58 said:

    I didn’t know Tyra Banks wrote a novel, much less a fantasy one.

    I think I was happier before I knew it.

    All the same, can’t wait for the rest of the spork!

  11. Brendan Rizzo on 19 January 2013, 11:01 said:

    Good grief. I don’t know what to say. So far, this is completely hilarious. Lemme guess: supermodels have become so important to the world that society has restructured itself around a competition that, in the manner of fairy tales, makes the dowdy girl into the most beautiful princess and the Protagonist With A Stupid Name acts like a bimbo1 and everything goes her way, but then it turns out that EVIL THINGS are going on behind the scenes and PWASN and her sparkly new boyfriend have to stop the EVIL before it’s too late.

    1 If any of you are offended by that word, I apologize.

  12. Master Chief on 19 January 2013, 12:47 said:

    I second that guess

  13. E.T. on 19 January 2013, 14:19 said:

    I suppose that slinging all these mysterious names and words out in the introduction is supposed to create interest in what it all means.

    But this feels really, really overdone. More like a wall than a door, if that makes any sense. Instead of guiding you into the story, there’s too much and it shuts you out.

    And Tookie De La Crème is even worse than that chick named America from that story that got reviewed on here a few months ago.

  14. Brendan Rizzo on 19 January 2013, 14:26 said:

    And Tookie De La Crème is even worse than that chick named America from that story that got reviewed on here a few months ago.

    Seconded. At least “America” is euphonious.

  15. Pryotra on 19 January 2013, 15:01 said:

    It means “buttocks of the cream” is still giggling

    America Singer was trying to be SYMBOLISM!!!OMGWTFBBQ!!! for the fact that she was going to bring freedom or something through her true love; whereas this is just clueless. Maybe she was thinking of something like Snooki? I don’t know.

  16. Pryotra on 19 January 2013, 15:08 said:

    BEHOLD!

    Tookie — (colloquial) the buttocks, shortened form of the Yiddish word “tuchus.”

    de la Crème — “of the cream”

    Tookie De La Crème — “buttocks of the cream”

  17. lilyWhite on 19 January 2013, 17:01 said:

    I assure you all: the first chapter does not disappoint. (At least not in the “sporking material” sense.)

  18. Danielle on 19 January 2013, 17:40 said:

    Whilst browsing reviews on Goodreads, I came across this gem:

    There is a part where the chosen models go on a “catwalk,” which, in Modelland, means they walk down a hallway full of cats, which are possessed by the spirits of other models, and get clawed by the model/cats.

    Please tell me that’s actually in the book!

  19. Prince O' Tea on 19 January 2013, 18:06 said:

    Tookie De La Creme reminds me of two things: an episode of Angela Anaconda where a french version of the main stuck up rich girl antagonist came on an exchange program. It also reminds me Madonna’s horrible children’s books, where the characters have names like Ticky and Taffy or Miss Fluffernutter. I actually thing America Singer sounds worse then Tookie does. The other names in this book all sound equally stupid: sugary faux-whimsical so Tookie doesn’t stand out that much. America Singer is just one of the most ridiculously Mary Sueish names ever.

  20. Epke on 19 January 2013, 18:34 said:

    one girl is Tookie De La Crème—our protagonist.

    I’m sorry, I just lost it here. My side actually hurts :(

  21. lilyWhite on 19 January 2013, 18:49 said:

    Please tell me that’s actually in the book!

    (nods)

  22. Danielle on 19 January 2013, 19:55 said:

    (nods)

    I….I’m not sure whether I respect Ms. Banks more or less for actually including that. And I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, applaud, or curl up in the fetal position and bemoan the fate of humanity.

  23. Apep on 19 January 2013, 20:28 said:

    I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, applaud, or curl up in the fetal position and bemoan the fate of humanity.

    The correct answer is E) All of the above. At least, that’s what I’m going to do.

  24. Ryan McCarthy on 19 January 2013, 20:31 said:

    I applaud Banks for wanting to write a book but I will never know what she made the decisions she did in writing this story.

  25. Master Chief on 19 January 2013, 22:53 said:

    If I ever get this book, I’m getting high before reading this.

  26. Snow White Queen on 20 January 2013, 13:48 said:

    ^ Seconded. I have no idea what’s going on, except CRAZINESS.

  27. Lone Wolf on 20 January 2013, 15:45 said:

    I googled “7Seven”. A car rental company and a hotel turned up. I still don’t understand what Banks meant.

  28. Prince O' Tea on 20 January 2013, 19:08 said:

    On the other hand, didn’t she write it before the Hunger Games came out? So unlike the Selection woman, Tyra is less likely to be accused of wanting to jump on the dystopia bandwagon.

  29. Prince O' Tea on 20 January 2013, 19:10 said:

    Then again, when did the Hunger Games become extremely popular? I hadn’t really heard anything about it until the film came out, same way I didn’t really know what Twilight was until about 2008 (when I saw a bunch of books with pretty covers featuring tulips and chess pieces and wondered what they were about)

  30. lilyWhite on 20 January 2013, 19:49 said:

    On the other hand, didn’t she write it before the Hunger Games came out?

    The Hunger Games was published in September of 2008, while Modelland was published in September of 2011—three years less a day after The Hunger Games to be exact. However, Tyra Banks has said that the idea of Modelland came to her five years before it was finished and published.

  31. Pryotra on 20 January 2013, 19:56 said:

    It’s been influenced by the Hunger Games, and possibly Harry Potter. She might not be lying, but the initial idea and the final result do tend to be different, and it seems to me like there are too many similarities for it to be pure coincidence.

  32. lilyWhite on 20 January 2013, 20:01 said:

    I suspect a great deal of stories influenced Modelland. Possibly The Hunger Games (I’m not familiar enough with The Hunger Games to say whether there are a lot of similarities), and almost certainly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (for the reason mentioned earlier) and Harry Potter. It also has some Twilight feels in parts.

  33. Fireshark on 20 January 2013, 20:05 said:

    Tyra’s homemade Modelland theme song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjC-L2O3I4g

    Her music is as bizarre as her writing.

  34. Pryotra on 20 January 2013, 20:38 said:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjC-L2O3I4g

    It sounds like it’s on acid.

    I suspect a great deal of stories influenced Modelland. Possibly The Hunger Games (I’m not familiar enough with The Hunger Games to say whether there are a lot of similarities), and almost certainly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (for the reason mentioned earlier) and Harry Potter. It also has some Twilight feels in parts.

    Definitely Charlie and the Chocolate Factory only without Dahl’s strangely likable writing style. I mean, there’s the golden tickets vs the smilely or whatever, and the fact that everyone on the planet is obsessed with this thing. Then of course they’re the magic school and all. (Models have magic in this universe apparently). Maybe she got inspiration from that remake.

  35. Northmark on 21 January 2013, 02:25 said:

    On the topic of the theme song, don’t forget about the music video/“motion editorial” she made for Modelland.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XadTcLe6-UI

    As the Part 2 spork has already shown us some of the things in this video happening in the book, I eagerly await the baby-cuddling, toothbrush-stroking, and thumb-sucking.

  36. Fireshark on 21 January 2013, 02:52 said:

    That was a music video? Throw in a couple “DINNER“s and it’s a YouTube Poop.

  37. Prince O' Tea on 23 January 2013, 13:03 said:

    How can you poop something like that any further? It’s like pooping the Maradonia Book Trailer or the Room or Titanic: the Legend goes On: completely and utterly redundant.

  38. Prince O' Tea on 23 January 2013, 13:04 said:

    I love the fluttering white flag with the Modelland eye on it: it looks like a drag queen Moby Dick.

  39. Betty Cross on 27 January 2013, 19:53 said:

    I gave up on the Modelland theme song after 30 seconds. It was utterly incoherent.

  40. :P on 16 July 2013, 20:06 said:

    Exodus…

  41. :P on 16 July 2013, 20:08 said:

    I have read this book twice and find it intriguing. I apsolutely love Shiraz :P I like the idea of this book, even if it is a bit crazy and weird. I would only hope that it turns into a trilogy.