The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

The UK Corner Book review: Modelland by Tyra Banks

From the outset, Modelland overpowers your senses. A form of literature candy, it gives a sugar rush with its metaphors and flamboyant world. Initially trying to acclimatize to the characters such as the De La Crèmes, the places such as Peppertown, Metopia, and the unrelenting alliteration, is almost too much. Yet it is worth the effort to fully immerse oneself into this fashionable fictional world.

In Modelland, the exclusive, mysterious place on top of the mountain, some recognizable facts are worn. Banks skillfully takes the reader through a fantastical journey reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this book Smizes not chocolate bars are key to life changing adventure.

15-year-old whipped cream loving Tookie De La Crème is the female Charlie; though she comes from a less loving family. A lonely Forgetta-Girl, she longs to become memorable. But not even her untamed hair, mismatched eyes, large forehead and gawky body can make her stand out from the crowd. Surprisingly on the Day of Discovery or T-DOD, she, not her perfect sister Myraccle, is chosen to become a Bella and a potential Intoxibella (supermodel).

The plot echoes a series of America’s Next Top Model, the show former supermodel and Talk Show host Banks created, which is now shown in 170 countries. The worldliness of Banks’ personal experience is also evident in the book with a plurality of cultures featured.

In this luminescent world of Thigh High Boot Camp, Catwalk Corridor, CaraCaraCara, The OohAh! Spa; Flashback Females and Manattack; where Teachers are Gurus, Servants are Mannecants, Nurses are Purses on skates, and time is told by shades of colour, there is much to learn and experience. This includes first love for Tookie who encounters the charming Bravo.

But it is not all fun in the Dorms and M Building; there is the threat of Ci-L and the Belladonna, and the danger of the Diabolical Divide and diabolically bitchy Bellas such as Zarpessa. Not once will Tookie and her new found friends bid to escape ironically while her mother and sister try to break into Modelland via the Pilgrim Passage.

But the challenges Tookie faces are worth it; they make her into a Rememba-girl rather than breaking her. Banks uses Tookie as an exemplar of teen angst and no doubt builds on her experience running the TZONE Foundation to highlight teen insecurity, self-harming, and eating disorders.

Tyra Banks

Though aimed at teenagers, the book has wide appeal with its insight into the world of fashion, and keen observations on the world’s obsession with fashion and limited conceptions of beauty, a cause that Banks has dedicated herself to redefining. Indeed, fans will see a lot of Banks’ personality in the book as well as fashion iconography in the form ‘Evanjalinda’ and ‘Bevjo’.

Havard Business School graduate Banks has crafted a greatly detailed story with believable characters and a far from predictable plot. Modelland would make a great film and with Bankable productions, Banks’ production company, it may be on the cards. In the meantime, the sequel in this trilogy is one to watch out for.

Modelland by Tyra Banks and published by Delacorte press, is out now.

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