“Have you ever seen her?

The girl whose face not even the meanest person you know would describe as yuck but who you’d never in a million—no, a trillion years describe as alluring either.”

What follows the introduction of the first chapter is a pretty detailed list of everything that’s wrong with Tookie, the girl whose: – “eyes are three centimeters too far apart”“mouth is four centimeters too wide”“hair has multiple personality disorder”“body is a contradiction of itself” with “a slightly hunched back”, “feet the size of snowshoes”, “stick-figure arms and legs”, “humongous, punch-bowl-sized head”, “forehead that goes on and on and on”, and “one green eye and one brown one”“clothing [is] painfully mismatched”

That’s every description of her—none are positive in the slightest. According to the narrator’s own words, that makes the narrator herself an awful person.

The narrator calls Tookie a “Forgetta-Girl”; a girl who no one ever remembers.

“But maybe not for long.”

Real subtle, narrator.

The story proper begins with Tookie lying on the floor of her school, “commonly called” the B3—the Bangle, Bauble, and Bead Institute. We’re given no indication as to whether fashion is the only concern at this school. The narrator takes even more shots at Tookie’s appearance as she count down time by the second, pigging out on whipped cream.

Strangely, despite the abundance of description of Tookie, including how ugly her hair is, we don’t know what Tookie’s hair colour is.

Tookie gets whipped cream on her neck, blouse, and hair. I’m not sure how that happens when she’s lying on her back; maybe she has really bad hand-eye co-ordination, or just a huge pile of whipped cream already in her mouth? We’re told about how she’s the best “skipper” in the school, and that her teachers never notice her disappearing from class. It still begs the question of how no one finds her just lying on the floor outside of class.

As Tookie counts down, we get a bit of angsting from her. Just great. When she reaches zero, the class bells rings—and a horrible-smelling green gas starts coming out of the vents. The gas is a byproduct from B3’s past as a factory. You have to wonder how there’s still gas when B3 is no longer a factory. A quip from a random student refers to the school as B4, which stands for “Bile, Barf, Belches, and Butt Bombs.” Erm…I count five B’s. Also, the narration says that everyone calls it that—yet said earlier that the school is “commonly called” B3.

Several girls talk about how much they want to be chosen on The Day of Discovery, which we’re given “T-DOD” as a shortened form of. That’s another recurring element of Modelland: silly abbreviations. One student mentions that one SMIZE has been found, and the girl who found it burned her hands grabbing it out of a pot of boiled potatoes. I guess a SMIZE outweighs horribly-burned hands.

Tookie begins to angst as a crowd of students begin walking around her, feeling as if she’s being ignored because no one seems to be acknowledging her…except that all of those people haven’t stepped on her. She even angsts about not being hurt by someone:

“Just a simple kick in the ribs or a sneaker sole that squished her hand or a textbook that slipped from a student’s grip and fell on her large forehead. She wasn’t picky.”

Now, if no one was really paying attention to Tookie, how come no one has stepped on her? Wouldn’t someone stepping on her and not noticing be a better indication of how no one is noticing her? Doesn’t this imply that people are taking care not to step on the weird girl who skips class and lies in the middle of the hallway?

…Let’s move on. Someone does notice Tookie—her sister, Myrracle. Yes, Myrracle. Myrracle dances as she mocks Tookie, mispronouncing “DNA”. We get quite a bit on how dense Tookie thinks Myrracle is, even though we’re told how Myrracle has memorized “The Shivera Shuffle” and understands the concept of DNA. Myrracle doesn’t really seem all that stupid to me, and Tookie just comes off as a little insensitive.

Now that we’ve established that Tookie has a sister, Myrracle hurries off. Tookie then pulls out a book she calls the “T-Mail Jail” (oh heavens, now we’re rhyming! DX), also known as the TMJ. The book has numerous phrases trying to get people to read it, but no one does. Given that it’s basically a diary and that (as we’ll learn shortly) she writes in different languages, most people wouldn’t read it. But alas, it just gives a reason for angst.

She picks one of her pens; as it is blue, she writes her entry in English. Yes, Tookie knows a lot of languages. Yes, little reason is given for that. Will it prove helpful in the course of the story? We’ll have to wait and see. Tookie writes a letter addressed to her friend Lizzie, who has been missing for six weeks. She writes about her SPLD campaign—“Silent Protest by Lying Down”—which has been going on for thirty-nine days.

Wait, what?!

This girl lies in the hallway doing nothing and saying nothing for thirty-nine days? The more we learn about Tookie, the more reason we see to ignore her.

At the end of her letter, we’re told about how Tookie can speak almost every language in the world. Why can she do so? Why did she bother to learn so many languages when (as she angsts about) no one speaks to her?

But forget that, because a certain someone is coming: Theophilus Lovelaces, the boy Tookie has a crush on. We learn of how Theophilus is such an awesome guy who wanted to be “among the regular people” instead of going to a private school, how he had tried to help Tookie when she had fallen down a staircase a year before, and how Tookie had made a complete loser out of herself when it had happened. As Theophilus walks towards her, he trips and drops his “VOTE FOR LOVE” button on Tookie. But before she can grab it, a field-hockey stick comes out of nowhere and sends the button flying!

I’m not kidding. That’s exactly what happens.

Tookie chases after the button, during which we get our first glimpse of Abigail Goode, a girl with super-thick and super-long black hair, even from her armpits. This is a character who I suggest you keep in mind—we’re going to be seeing more of her later in the story.

The button ends up in a trash can, and Tookie shoves her hands into the garbage. When she grabs it, she sees that the “VOTE FOR LOVE” button now looks as if it says “T O OKE”. Tookie gushes over this, and becomes even more excited when Theophilus talks to her— “The second sentence Theophilus had ever said to her.”

Except that the earlier part about Theophilus offering to help her off the floor actually has Theophilus saying three sentences:

“Are you okay?”

“That was quite a spill.”

“Okay. Um…sorry.”

Tookie thinks that the damaged button is a sign that they’re meant to be together, but Zarpessa Zarionneaux—Theophilus’s girlfriend—comes along. Tookie stares at them while they kiss, fantasizing about Theophilus dumping Zarpessa and giving Tookie her first kiss. Yes, Tookie has a crush on someone who’s already in a relationship.

As Theophilus and Zarpessa walk away, the chapter comes to a close with more angsting from Tookie.

…Whew, that was a doozy. And sadly, this is not the most contrived moment of stupidity we will see in the book.

It’s obvious that we’re meant to feel sympathetic for Tookie’s plight. She’s depressed and she longs for company. But when making a character you want readers to identify with and sympathesize for, you have to make them likeable. Tookie does nothing to improve her condition, and what she does do in response to her isolation only makes her come off as an antisocial freak who no one would want to be around. Tookie’s actions do not attempt to reach out to others but only serve to isolate herself. The scene in which we’re supposed to be shown how no one cares about Tookie doesn’t work because it’s evident that she would have been stepped on if no one really was paying attention to her. The fix would be simple: have Tookie actively reach out to people, rather than acting antisocial and then angsting about how she has no social life.

So Modelland doesn’t exactly start off with a character a reader would want to care about. Will this book have anyone the reader will care about?

The answer to that question, and more stupidity, awaits in the next chapter: Exodus.

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Comment

  1. Fireshark on 20 January 2013, 23:21 said:

    This story sounds like a massive drug trip. I know that’s a very unoriginal criticism to throw at something, but I’m convinced that it fits Modelland better than any other description would.

  2. Taku on 21 January 2013, 00:22 said:

    “VOTE FOR LOVE” button now looks as if it says “T O OKE”

    I have run it through my head perhaps more times than is healthy, but I cannot imagine any level of mangling capable of being achieved with a hockey stick that would arrange the letters into that configuration. We would need advanced 3D computer modelling software to achieve that.

    At the end of her letter, we’re told about how Tookie can speak almost every language in the world. Why can she do so? Why did she bother to learn so many languages when (as she angsts about) no one speaks to her?

    Pssh. Sues don’t “learn” languages. They just sort of… have them. Maybe they’re born with it.

    Maybe it’s Maybelline.

  3. Danielle on 21 January 2013, 01:17 said:

    “eyes are three centimeters too far apart” – “mouth is four centimeters too wide” – “hair has multiple personality disorder” – “body is a contradiction of itself” with “a slightly hunched back”, “feet the size of snowshoes”, “stick-figure arms and legs”, “humongous, punch-bowl-sized head”, “forehead that goes on and on and on”, and “one green eye and one brown one” – “clothing [is] painfully mismatched”

    I’m picturing a Muppet.

    That’s every description of her—none are positive in the slightest. According to the narrator’s own words, that makes the narrator herself an awful person.

    It shows the culture Ms. Banks comes from—one where people come to notice minor (and common) defects like that, and make them seem worse than they are. Tookie’s description says less about Tookie and more about Tyra.

    The narrator calls Tookie a “Forgetta-Girl”; a girl who no one ever remembers.

    Tookie writes a letter addressed to her friend Lizzie, who has been missing for six weeks. She writes about her SPLD campaign—“Silent Protest by Lying Down”—which has been going on for thirty-nine days.

    Wat.

    Her friend has been MISSING for six weeks, during which time she could have been tortured, raped, and/or murdered, and Tookie is writing a letter to her, angsting about her own pathetic problems?

    This is a dystopia. One where everyone is so self-absorbed, law enforcement and basic human goodness have been rendered ineffective.

    Tookie chases after the button, during which we get our first glimpse of bq. Abigail Goode, a girl with super-thick and super-long black hair, even from her armpits.

    o.0

    rubs eyes

    O.O

    …..

    I kind of want to read a book about Abigail and her mighty pits of justice now….

  4. Tim on 21 January 2013, 03:27 said:

    I thought you said this book had some redeeming features. So far I’m only getting “this book will combust or decompose.”

  5. Taku on 21 January 2013, 03:34 said:

    This book does have one redeeming feature: Unlike the diary of Tom Riddle Jr, this book can be destroyed.

    Also, it is absolutely hilarious in the best way: taking itself entirely seriously and being absolutely clueless about the unintentional humour. It is brilliant.

  6. Mingnon on 21 January 2013, 05:18 said:

    Maybe it’s Maybelline.

    Can I haz auttagraff Taku!? :D

  7. Mingnon on 21 January 2013, 05:25 said:

    Her friend has been MISSING for six weeks, during which time she could have been tortured, raped, and/or murdered, and Tookie is writing a letter to her, angsting about her own pathetic problems?

    This is a dystopia. One where everyone is so self-absorbed, law enforcement and basic human goodness have been rendered ineffective.

    While I agree that this appears to be a world where everyone is self-absorbed, I doubt that rape would be involved. Considering the literal bloodbath though, torture and murder would seem possible.

    Though thinking about self-absorption, would people still have and keep friends? Have a happy marriage? Would homeless shelters and orphanages exist? o^o;

  8. Lone Wolf on 21 January 2013, 06:19 said:

    _ The fix would be simple: have Tookie actively reach out to people, rather than acting antisocial and then angsting about how she has no social life._

    Hey, there’re people with genuine social anxiety.

    On a side note, at least Theophilus is a relatively normal name.

  9. lilyWhite on 21 January 2013, 06:40 said:

    I thought you said this book had some redeeming features. So far I’m only getting “this book will combust or decompose.”

    Well, just wait until the next chapter.

    Although how “redeeming” the good parts are is somewhat arguable, since they really make you wish you were reading the story of anyone but Tookie.

  10. Epke on 21 January 2013, 10:08 said:

    Tookie gets whipped cream on her neck, blouse, and hair. I’m not sure how that happens when she’s lying on her back; maybe she has really bad hand-eye co-ordination, or just a huge pile of whipped cream already in her mouth?

    I’m imagining this like an SNL sketch, where she is just incapable of getting the whipped cream into her mouth. She should make “Aaaaaagh!” sounds as she attempts it as well.

    When she grabs it, she sees that the “VOTE FOR LOVE” button now looks as if it says “T O OKE”.

    So the V, O, E, F, R and L were all conveniently smushed, while the V and E somehow managed to merge into a K, while the E still retained its original form… I see.

  11. Karamazova on 21 January 2013, 14:56 said:

    I’m just going to leave this here.

  12. Apep on 21 January 2013, 16:25 said:

    You do not fix your protagonist having a stupid name by giving all the characters stupid names. You change your protagonist’s name. If you are that attached to the name, you really need to reevaluate the character.

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    I… couldn’t make it through. This whole thing feels like just another book that only get’s published because a famous name is on the cover. “Models with superpowers” is a dumb idea. Ms. Banks would have found this out if she’d told a friend (who she could trust to be honest) about the idea in the first place.

    This book isn’t going to sell because it’s good – it’s going sell because the name “Tyra Banks” is on the cover. If she thought it was a good idea, why not try publishing under a different name? Of the authors she mentioned, none of them were famous before publishing. Pre-established fame kinda shifts the odds of success a bit.

  13. Fireshark on 21 January 2013, 17:05 said:

    If she just wrote this for the lulz, I really have no quarrel with it. The problem is she sort of fluctuates on how serious it’s supposed to be.

  14. Taku on 21 January 2013, 18:23 said:

    Ms. Banks would have found this out if she’d told a friend (who she could trust to be honest) about the idea in the first place.

    I think the common theme with awful self-published works is that they do not have anyone who can be trusted to give honest feedback. Everyone around Banks would be too afraid of losing their job or sponsorship or whatever, to actually say what they think. Meanwhile, the Tesch and Paolini families were too afraid of hurting their darlings’ feelings to offer any real criticism, and/or lacked the critical faculty/experience to do so.

    Tookie gets whipped cream on her neck, blouse, and hair. I’m not sure how that happens when she’s lying on her back; maybe she has really bad hand-eye co-ordination, or just a huge pile of whipped cream already in her mouth?

    I’m imagining this like an SNL sketch, where she is just incapable of getting the whipped cream into her mouth. She should make “Aaaaaagh!” sounds as she attempts it as well.

    Didn’t you know ugly antisocial people are also disgusting pigs? Considering Tyra has spent most of her life in an industry where presentation is everything, and three square meals per day is considered ‘too much’, she’s basically presenting the only image of a non-supermodel she’s known: either you’re a beautiful model who eats very little and never makes a mess, or you’re an ugly normal person who wears dirty overalls and stuffs their face with empty calories and gets food all over themselves. I can hardly blame Banks for that, it’s probably the stereotype she was raised on since her first day as a model.

  15. ScarletSpecter on 21 January 2013, 18:24 said:

    I can kind of see where Tyra is coming from. It’s clear that she has an honest passion for what she does. And as dumb as “models with superpowers” sounds (seriously just say that aloud), I still believe you can make a good story out of anything…as long as you have talent that is. But, this clearly ain’t the case.

    But, yeah, Tookie already sounds like a dunce. I’m getting a lot of Katniss/Bella vibes from her. It’s like every other character’s actions, every stray thought must revolve around them in some way. She’s the only victim; to the point that even people with actual problems (hello, missing friend) are only worthy of thought as long as they meet Tookie’s needs first and foremost.

  16. Brendan Rizzo on 21 January 2013, 18:45 said:

    I’m just gonna say this… TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. Banks really should have checked her initialisms before she named the lead’s daily planner after a rather painful medical condition.

  17. lilyWhite on 21 January 2013, 19:44 said:

    I’m just gonna say this… TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. Banks really should have checked her initialisms before she named the lead’s daily planner after a rather painful medical condition.

    The book does actually acknowledge that:

    Tookie found it ironic that the book’s initials, TMJ, also stood for an ailment that impaired a person’s ability to open her mouth.

    Wow what a coincidence that the abbreviation of her stupid journal name ties into her lack of a social life what masterful writing.

    Tookie would be much more interesting and sympathetic if her character in the first chapter wasn’t defined solely by her social dysfunction.

  18. Finn on 21 January 2013, 21:21 said:

    watches video
    You know, I actually think that if she’d had more talent as a writer, or if she’d spent more time revising and finding honest opinions, this could have been a good book.
    I find it strange that Tookie is supposed to be relatable. I mean, yes, some a lot of teenage girls are very insecure about their appearances, but no matter what they think, that doesn’t make them actually ugly, and I have never heard any of them describing themselves the way Tookie describes herself. Normally they just focus on a few features, and are specific about them. I just can’t imagine how Tookie looks from that description, so instead of trying, I just imagine her as a teenage Tyra.
    It is possible for someone to be only the slightest bit weird and still be ignored at highschool, and you don’t even have to be ugly. You just have to be a little shy and awkward. Tookie, on the other hand, comes off as rather crazy. And Tyra, as per the Amazon description, intends her to be me? facedesk

  19. Mingnon on 21 January 2013, 21:34 said:

    ……

    ………

    Does… Does Tyra know what kind of double-speak she’s pulling?

    You want to go to Modelland yet you don’t think you’re worthy of going there because you think you’re practically an everyday doormat, thus you don’t want to go to Modelland?

    facepiano

  20. lilyWhite on 21 January 2013, 22:03 said:

    You know, I actually think that if she’d had more talent as a writer, or if she’d spent more time revising and finding honest opinions, this could have been a good book.

    This. This, so much.

  21. Tim on 22 January 2013, 05:08 said:

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    What the hell’s with that piano bit halfway through, did she die while she was writing this?

  22. Mingnon on 22 January 2013, 07:30 said:

    …Were you referring to me? ._.;

  23. Tim on 22 January 2013, 09:22 said:

    No, watch the video and the bit where it suddenly segues into a montage with really downbeat piano music for no reason. It’s about two minutes in.

  24. Creature_NIL on 22 January 2013, 14:26 said:

    Yeah, I can’t really get a good fix on what Tookie is supposed to look like either. The description has just left me picturing a female version of Quasimodo.

    Also, maybe the friend disappeared by choice.

  25. Prince O' Tea on 22 January 2013, 23:10 said:

    Probably to get away from Tookie and her annnngsttttttttttttt for a while. I can imagine being friends with her would get very exhausting and depressing fast, since she sounds like the type of person who sucks the fun out of everything.

  26. Pryotra on 24 January 2013, 18:36 said:

    Also, maybe the friend disappeared by choice.

    Obviously, she didn’t want to be in this book. I commend her cleverness.

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