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by Alex Shakar
Harperperennial, 2001
Review by Courtney Young on Oct 31st 2002

The Savage Girl

The Savage Girl takes a unique look at the current state of consumer culture.  We are taken behind the scenes where trends are orchestrated, and the public is manipulated through marketing techniques.

            Ursula Van Urden is the main character in this novel.  She’s an artist who moves to the city where her younger sister had become a famous model.  Ivy, her sister, had a breakdown and is diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  Ursula goes to the city to care for her, as well as to find out what it was about the city that pushed her over the edge.  To do so, she gets a job working for the man Ivy was dating prior to her mental collapse.  His company is appropriately named Tomorrow inc. where he is a trend spotter, selling his ideas to companies.

            Ursula is trained in the art of spotting the next big fad.  She basically sits on park benches, rollerblades through the city, and even watches people at the supermarket; all of this while she is lectured by Ivy’s ex Chas, and Javier another trend spotter.  They seek to enlighten her with philosophies rooted in fashion that in their eyes will change the world.  It’s quite absurd, and at the same time makes you wonder if there are really people like this.  Ones who seemingly blend into society, yet are watching everything and everyone hoping to stumble upon a profitable trend.

            Ursula’s journey with Tomorrow inc., and with her mentally ill sister reveal the darker sides of human nature- those rooted in greed.  Ursulas’s “big find” a homeless, rodent eating, savage girl sparks a new trend that in the end turns disastrous.  From cryogenically frozen trend spotters to schizophrenic watching web cams this book is full of surprises.  Perhaps after reading it you will think twice about the products you buy, or who is watching you buy them.  All in all this is a very interesting and thought out satire of our culture.

 

© 2002 Courtney F. Young

 

Courtney Young recently graduated from Dowling College, Long Island, NY majoring in Fine Arts and minoring in Philosophy.  While planning her next step, she maintains her mental health by surfing.