Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Properly Scandalous (Mina V. Esguerra)

Properly Scandalous dives right into the action, unlike its predecessor Young and Scambitious, which understandably takes its time to introduce the characters and their world. In Scandalous, we already know what Jane del Mundy and her gang are into. They're a group with a very specific skill set (unlike Liam Neeson's in Taken, at least, not yet anyway), with access to well-paying clients and gullible marks. This time, they're approached by Gabriel Grande with the challenge of getting money from a government official. Jane comes up with the perfect scam, one that may be easy for them to set up but hard to pull off -- especially when it means rekindling old sparks between her and Gabriel.

Properly Scandalous moves fast. It sets a brisk pace and urges you to keep up. It's fascinating to see a scam unfold before your eyes and it's definitely a credit to Ms Esguerra that she can write something as deliciously diabolical as these then turn around and write a sweet YA romance.

One detail that I enjoy about the books is Ms Esguerra's deliberate use of colorful surnames. Scandalous has a Polly Masmagiting and an Esperanza Mandawit, for example. They're not quite the familiar surnames that you'd associate with Manila's high society (or even those climbing the social ladder), but I find that they serve a two-fold purpose: 1) they bring levity to a scene; and 2) they certainly help disassociate the events of the book from real people.

Plus, it maintains a great cast of characters. Scandalous even fleshes out previously secondary characters like Alexander and Wendy (they were my favorites from the beginning, I dunno why). Jane and her group live in a world with so much artifice but I still find myself drawn to the people behind their masks. By the way, their gang deserves a monicker. I'm just out of ideas at the moment.

The Scambitious series is one of my favorite among Ms Esguerra's works. There's a sharpness here that I rarely see in Filipino chick lit, and I don't mean the bitchy kind. It glints with a different kind of polish and charm. The dialogue is snappy but it doesn't take itself seriously. It moves in different circles: parties and bars and high-end condos on one hand, trashy gossip blogs and forums on the other. These worlds are brought together with convincing realism, walking the thin line between these two highly exaggerated worlds.

NOTE: Properly Scandalous is available on Smashwords. Holler if you want a gift code to get it free. Also, that's my old friend and fashion blogger Alex Lapa on the cover. She is one of my long-time blog readers. ;)


Alex Lapa said...

I agree! A moniker like "The Gucci Gang" a few years ago! <3 I haven't read it yet but I'm excited. Aaaaand thank you for the mention! :D

dementedchris said...

Of course! But yes, I was thinking of the Gucci Gang as well! Following that story was one of my guilty pleasures.