Voice in Tyra Banks’ Secret Novel

Voice in Tyra Banks’ Modelland

We all have guilty pleasures, and one of mine used to be America’s Next Top Model. It’s sassy, artistic, and full of people telling models they suck. What’s not to love? Besides, Tyra Banks’ endless charm and witty comebacks make it hard to change the channel.

So, you know. I like Tyra on a human level; I’m not one to care for celebrities. I’ve even occasionally watched her talk show, although my moral principles forbid the watching of talk shows. She’s cool, okay?

I’m a library browser. I’m that girl who sits cross-legged in the aisles reading the backs of dozens of novels, agonizing over which have the prettiest covers and most intriguing synopsis because honestly, they all deserve to be read. The last time I visited my library (Park Place in Norfolk! Love it) I spotted “Tyra Banks” printed across the spine of a book called Modelland. My first thought was, “Nah, must be a different Tyra.” But then I flipped to the inside back cover – you know, where they print pictures of the author’s face. Then I was like, “Yeah… that’s Tyra.” Tyra Banks wrote a YA dystopia novel! Who knew? Not this girl.

Obviously I checked it out. I had to know if the woman can write. The verdit? Better than you’d expect, I think.

Sure, she has two paragraphs in a row start with the word “suddenly,” which in my opinion should never start a sentence. But hey, that’s the only glaring bad choice I’ve seen so far.

Modelland is set in a futuristic Earth which the reader can loosely connect to the Earth we know today. The only celebrities in this place are produced in Modelland, a towering mountain that sends scouts once a year to select girls to train. The main character, Tookie, is an awkward girl who doesn’t even try to get selected but does anyway. Shy and unsure, she has to navigate her way through foreign territory to accomplish I’m not sure what, I haven’t finished it yet.

You like that? I’ve been practicing my synopsis-writing.

Let’s talk about voice, baby. This book is in third person, and at first it seems like the narrator isn’t an important character. Then you read a little more and realize that this insane world of cosmetics and plastic surgery (and semi-magic) actually sounds kind of appealing, the way it’s worded.

The narrator, I then realized, is the whole model culture that permeates the book, easily translated from Tyra’s personal experience into the distant and different future. It’s told from the point of view of Modelland itself, which only gets creepier as the reader and Tookie fall more and more for its charms.

The main character, Tookie, is described as”the girl whose face not even the meanest person would describe as yuck but who you’d never in a million—no, a trillion years describe as alluring either.” It’s like how I’d talk to my friends if I was some other kind of girl, but at the same time it’s familiar and even a little bit silly, dude. Silly books are fun to read.

I highly suggest this as a fun read for the ladies. I really hate those words – “for girls” or “for guys.” But the amount of boob and makeup conversation that goes on was almost too much for me, so I’m gonna rep the gender roles for now.


2 thoughts on “Voice in Tyra Banks’ Secret Novel

  1. I’m intrigued to read this. I knew Banks had written a book but I wasn’t sure if I should read it or not, even though I love her take on the modelling industry (and ANTM). This sounds like it’s worth a read!

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