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Joint Book Review: Modelland by Tyra Banks

Well, I finally did it- I read Modelland. After much skepticism and snarkiness, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and take the plunge into celebrity-authorness (more opinions can be found in this post: Celebrity Authors: Pro or Con?

The best part? My blogging buddy NC over at Truly Bookish decided to read Banks’ debut novel with me. Please check out her blog for more of her thoughts on Modelland.

Our unadulterated thoughts about Modelland are below.

Joint Book Review: Modelland

Modelland Trya Banks


What were your expectations of Modelland before you started reading?

NC: From the book summary, I knew this was a fantasy novel and I figured it would involve a competition much like Tyra’s show, “America’s Next Top Model.” Besides these vague ideas of what the book was about, I set low expectations: I just wanted it be readable.


How did Modelland compare to your expectations?

NC: Modelland is the most bizarre book I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books. With every page, I felt as if I were wading through extremely odd details, weird names and words, crazy circumstances and a novel that was way too long (576 pages!). In my humble opinion, this book is not very readable.

Me: Although I didn’t end up finishing Modelland was very confusing to me. It has a weird sense of naming (Forgetta-girls, SMIZEs, Tookie, etc). That really threw me off. Also, the writing is honestly atrocious. It’s obvious Tyra Banks didn’t use a ghostwriter. It was just weird overall.


Tyra Banks had an odd way of naming things in Modelland- Ex: Forgetta-girls, 7Seven, SMIZEs. How did this affect your reading of the book?

NC:I found the names to be one of the more difficult things about the book. I expect made-up names and words in fantasy novels but this was just way over the top and annoying.


NC and I talked and both agreed that Modelland was heading for a Did-Not-Finish status. What is it about the book that made you want to put it down and stop reading? Do you think you’ll try to finish it?

NC: In addition to the book being extremely bizarre, the subject matter did not hold my interest either. It would take an extremely talented author to make a story about girls doing anything to get into an exclusive boarding school for models. I have no interest in finishing this book.

Me: For me, I think it ultimately came down to time. As a book blogger, I try to keep to a certain schedule (posting reviews every Thursday). Modelland was a time suck that didn’t give anything back. Long, emotionally-satisfying books are worth reading. Long, vacant ridiculous books, sadly, are not.

Weirdly enough, I do want to try to finish the book, if only to satisfy my curiosity about how Banks’ decides to develop the story.


Is there anything that could have “saved” Modelland, in your opinion and kept you from putting it down?

NC: I think Modelland would have made a better graphic novel than a book. As it is, it is far too long and detailed, maybe more pictures and fewer words could have saved it. At the heart of it, Modelland strikes me as a Cinderella/The Ugly Ducking sort of story which I think readers could appreciate if Tyra had kept it simpler.


As it’s painfully obvious that Tyra Banks actually wrote Modelland, has this book affected how you feel about celebrity authors?

NC: Sad to say I did not have a great impression of celebrity authors (for YA fiction anyway) to begin with. I did not like Elixir by Hilary Duff and Tyra has now sealed the deal. Let it be known today guys, I am swearing off all YA books by celebrity authors!

Me: Honestly, I wasn’t ever really sure what to think. I heard some really bad things about Hilary Duff’s book but a few good things about Lauren Conrad’s. I figured I shouldn’t judge something I didn’t know much about…except now I have! 🙂

Modelland affected my opinion, but only really toward Tyra Banks. I would hate to judge all celebrity authors by her work, but it does seem they do it just to make money another way- not really for the love of writing. I promise to try and reserve my judgment in the future…however hard that may be.


What were the things about Modelland that you enjoyed (if there were any)?

NC: I always try to find something positive in the books I read, even ones I don’t like. I like the idea of a girl who is unpopular and not considered pretty to rise above other people’s expectations of her. While I liked the idea, you pretty much know what I thought about the execution…

Me: Hmm, that’s actually a tough question. I liked the whole idea of a young adult novel about inner beauty that had fantasy elements, but the execution was just strange. Also, the beginning of the book just dragged on and on, and I’m not why Banks would waste the first 20 crucial pages of the book on describing Tookie’s awkward looks every 5 words.


NC and I are a teensy bit above the average YA readership age. Do you think the typical YA fan base (teens ages 13 to 19) would enjoy reading Modelland? Why or why not?

NC: It’s possible that tweens and teens, especially those who are fans of Tyra Banks, will enjoy this a lot more that I did. The book did spend one week on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I know that the 13-year-old me would have been just as frustrated with the bizarre and overly complicated plot as adult me did.


If Tyra Banks wrote another book, would you read it? Why or why not?

NC: I will have to pass on another YA book authored by Tyra, plus I just swore off all YA books written by celebrities. If she wrote a non-fiction book about using one career to springboard into another (something she has done very well, moving from modeling to being a television personality), I would consider reading it. This is the first book in a trilogy and I wish her the best of luck, but these books are just not for me.


After a really terrible book, I usually recover by reading a book that I’m 100 percent sure I’ll love. What will you do to recover from the horror that was Modelland?

NC: Yep, I need to read something awesome right now. I’m going to take your advice and read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Me: I’m in the middle of reading Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. It. is. amazing!! I am so thankful to be reading an interesting, well-written novel. It’s a great way to shuff off my frustration and get back into reading some stunning writing.

Bonus Modelland Question

Despite poor ratings, Modelland spent a week on the New York Times Best Seller list which I think will only encourage more celebrities to write and more publishers to publish the books. Which celebrity would you like to write a YA novel and why?

Me: I love this question!! Let’s see- I would love for a really interesting celebrity to write a book, like Conan O’Brien, Charlize Theron, Jude Law or Natalie Portman. Still, like I said earlier, they should actually be able to write. I think Natalie Portman might fit that bill!

If you’re read Modelland, what are your thoughts on the book? If not, would you read Modelland?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Breanna

    Oh no. Is this new trend instead of celebrities writing picture books? At least in a picture book they only have to try to be creative for twenty pages (which are mostly pictures).

    • I think it is- Hilary Duff and Lauren Conrad are among the ranks. I would have finished Modelland if it had been a picture book! haha!

  • Ems

    Wow. I hadn’t planned on ever reading this, and you’ve just cemented my choice. It frustrates me when stuff like this spends time on the NYT list, but then it also makes me realize that maybe if she can publish crap, I can actually publish a GOOD one. Here’s hoping.

  • I’m definitely NOT reading this one. Celebs need to just stick with what they do best and let actual writers do the writing. Is that so hard? I’m not trying to be a model, so Tyra needs to quit trying to do what I do.

  • Alexandralanc

    I agree. I usually try not to read books by celebrities, because as an author, it’s almost a bit insulting that celebs seem to think they can do anything. Some of them have written books that are good (I haven’t read any, but have heard of some), but most of them don’t seem to write as well as a seasoned author would. I thought the idea of Modelland sounded…odd, but I was going to try reading it just to see. After reading this review, though, I’m not sure I will try reading it.

  • Finally, the truth! Thanks for an honest, no-hype review. I read an excerpt from the book before it went on the shelves and decided right then that it wasn’t for me.

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  • Saras

    Ugly by Scott Westerfeld has similar premise (price of beauty and fame type thing) and it’s pretty cool

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  • Chemicalhurricane

    I attempted Modelland, but barely made it past the prologue. The book was muddled, confused (If it were sentient, I’m really sure it would have looked and itself and gone ‘o.O What in God’s name is this?’), and paid entirely too much attention to detail. I’m convinced that if never would have gotten published had it not bore the name Tyra Banks. While I won’t discount every celeb author out there, this one has failed. Just because you CAN get a book published, doesn’t mean you should.

    • Vballhannah

      i loved this book cause if you people actually read it which i doubt that you did you would love it to and this one of my favorite books and i think it is amazing and very good and you people obviously don’t know a good book when you see it

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