Author: Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: May 2012
Buy the Book • Goodreads
Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school's struggling radio station, where the other students don't find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams's mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.
Popular girl Chloe Camden suddenly found that her life got a whole lot more difficult. Her best friends won’t talk to her, the rest of the school avoid her and she’s stuck doing a project she doesn’t want to. Armed with silly metaphors, a positive attitude and her feisty grandma, Chloe manages to get through it all and come out better. The novel, a first by Shelley Coriell, is a sweet debut with a lot of heart.
“Queen of the Universe” Chloe is a firecracker. She was quirky, cool, confident, but still vulnerable. The way her ex-BFFs Brie and Mercedes treated her made me sympathetic. She’s a very open person who wears her emotions on her sleeve, although sometimes this makes her seem self-centered. But her love of vintage shoes and mexican food (that recipe for tamales de dulce will definitely come in handy) more than makes up for it.
I also really enjoyed the contrast between her and the quiet, reserved Duncan Moore, the one guy at the radio station who she seemed to immediately connect with. Their relationship eventually evolved into something more, and it was really sweet how they were both supportive during tough times they had to face. That said, it was sometimes hard to feel connected to Duncan and his problems because of his tendency to be a bit of a loner. Out of The Edge radio crew, Clementine, with her grumpy attitude and love of radishes was a definite stand out.
The best parts of the book, in my opinion, were Chloe’s radio talk shows, “Chloe, Queen of the Universe” and “Heartbeats”. I found Chloe entertaining and I was fascinated with learning the ins and outs of how a radio station operates. I loved how she referred to her callers as ‘minions’ and her banter with Clementine put a smile on my face.
The book is one of a few contemporary fiction novels I’ve read now that deals with real issues/problems. In this book, Coriell tackles meth addiction, divorce, poor parenting and Parkinsons. The problems presented impacted the characters, but I liked how it wasn’t overly angsty. I think Chloe’s optimistic attitude played a huge part of that as the narrator and there was definitely a feel good factor about the book.
In the end, everyone ‘makes medudo out of cow intestines’, to take a phrase out of the novel (a fun play on making lemons out of lemonade). The contemporary genre is definitely getting stronger, and I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a fun, YA read.