Fans of everything from Mean Girls to The A-List will recognize elements of Ted Michael's debut novel The Diamonds, but Michael's take on this overly-familiar material still feels smart, fun, and fresh.
At an exclusive private school in Long Island, a four-girl clique known as the Diamonds sits at the top of the social hierarchy—but when one of them is dumped by her boyfriend, they decide to start exercising their power even more openly. The Diamonds join the school's Mock Trial team, and invite the student body bring their grievances to court. Suddenly, everything from a cheating boyfriend to a gossiping BFF is grounds for a trial... with the Diamonds serving as judge, jury, and fashionably-dressed executioner.
The cover and opening chapters of Michael's novel suggest that this book is just another Gossip Girl rip-off, but Michael has actually written something considerably more interesting: The Diamonds touches on everything from abuse of power to the nature of friendship to girl-on-girl crime. The characters are surprisingly multifaceted, and the author doesn't fall back on name-dropping high-end brands in favor of actual character development. The novel's biggest flaw is its adult characters' easy acceptance of the Diamonds' antics—please, somebody's parents would so sue over that kind of behavior—but it still makes for an entertaining and unexpectedly thoughtful read.