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Gossip Girl (novel series)

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Country  United States
Publication date  2002–2011
Adaptations  Gossip Girl (2007)
Genre  Young adult fiction
Language  English
Author  Cecily von Ziegesar
Publisher  Little, Brown and Company
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Gossip Girl is an American young adult novel series written by Cecily von Ziegesar and published by Little, Brown and Company, a subsidiary of the Hachette Group. The series revolves around the lives and romances of the privileged teenagers at the Constance Billard School for Girls, an elite private school in New York City's Upper East Side. The books primarily focus on best friends Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen, whose experiences are among those chronicled by the eponymous gossip blogger. The novel series is based on von Ziegesar's experiences at Nightingale-Bamford School and on what she heard from friends.

Contents

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The first novel, Gossip Girl, was released in April 2002; the eleventh novel of the series was released in May 2007, with a prequel novel following in October 2007. Another follow-up novel, in which the characters return home from college for the holidays, was released in hardback format in November 2009. The original novel became the inspiration for the Gossip Girl teen drama television series, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, which premiered on The CW Television Network on September 19, 2007. There are now 13 novels.

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In May 2008, a follow-up series, Gossip Girl: The Carlyles, began publication, following the Carlyle triplets as they begin moving to the Upper East Side. As of October 2009, four novels have been released in this series. Ziegesar created a spin-off series, The It Girl, which began publication in 2005, and Yen Press has adapted the series into a manga series titled Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only.

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History

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The novel that started the series, Gossip Girl, was published in paperback format in April 2002. Two new novels were released annually until the final novel, Don't You Forget About Me, was released in May 2007, showing the main characters graduating from high school and moving on to college and other pursuits. A prequel novel, It Had To Be You, was released in October 2007 in hardcover and electronic book format. It detailed the events that occurred a year before the first novel. A box set containing the eleven novels of the series and the prequel novel, in paperback format, was released November 1, 2009. Two days later, a sequel novel, I Will Always Love You was released. The hardcover book tells the story of the main characters returning home from college for the holidays. Hachette Group re-released all of the original novels in electronic book format between 2008 and 2009.

Books nine, ten and eleven of the main series were ghostwritten.

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In December 2009, Yen Press announced that it was working with Korean artist Baek Hye-Kyung to create a manga adaptation of the series titled Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only. Rather than adapting the original novels, however, the graphic novels will feature original stories with the same characters. It will be serialized in the company's anthology magazine Yen Plus, with the first chapter appearing in the January 2010 issue.

In October 2011 a parody of the series Gossip Girl Psycho Killer was released. It is written by Cecily Von Zeigesar. The identity of Gossip Girl has not been released to the public.

Characters

  • Blair Waldorf is described as having chestnut brown hair, cobalt blue eyes, a foxlike face, a small physique and being widely involved in extracurricular activities and having a tenacious attitude towards studies. She is considered quite intelligent and very pretty by her peers and elders. Blair uses her charm, cleverness, money and social status to get to where and what she wants. Blair attends Yale University after graduating from high school. Throughout the series, she has an on-off relationship with Nate Archibald, whom she always imagined marrying. At the end of the series, Nate admits he loves her, and always will. Gossip Girl herself says that the two are just meant to be together. Blair's style and attitude portrays her as being quite preppy.
  • Serena van der Woodsen is described as being slim, ethereally beautiful, and "perfect". Serena dabbled in modeling before landing a starring role in Breakfast at Fred's, a remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Serena has kept a steady string of admirers, including Nate Archibald, Dan Humphrey, Aaron Rose, and an entire a cappella group at Yale University. Serena longs for true romance, and initially seeks this with Nate, despite his relationship with her friend Blair. In spite of this, she is easily bored by men in general and does not often pursue committed relationships, preferring to play the field. Serena is often criticized by her classmates, who find her an excellent source of gossip but resent her effortless good looks and her ability to get the attention of any male. Often, she seems sad with her beauty, as she has no "incentive" to do anything. At the end of the book series, Serena decides to stay in New York City, instead of attending one of the many Ivy League schools into which she was accepted, so that she can discover her life for herself. After a break from college, she attends Yale. Serena and Blair have a love-hate relationship with Serena being caring towards Blair every book.
  • Nate Archibald is a wealthy, good-looking lacrosse player from St. Jude's School for Boys. He has dated a number of girls in the series, but his only serious relationship has been with his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Blair Waldorf and her close friend Serena. After stealing his lacrosse coach's Viagra, he relied on Blair and her alumnus father's connections to get accepted into Yale. Nate eventually left to sail around the world with his father's Navy mentor because he is unable to choose between Blair and Serena. In the sequel, he attends Deep Springs recommended by Chuck Bass, and then Brown University. Eventually, he professes his love for Blair over Serena, which leaves Serena heartbroken and Blair overjoyed. He and Serena got into every college that they entered for.
  • Dan Humphrey is a sexy, skinny, sensitive, caffeine-addicted poet who often sees the darker side of things. A romantic whose imagination runs off wildly at the worst times, he is also over-analytical and easily frustrated. Dan was in love with Serena for years before they met and briefly dated. Dan also experimented with homosexuality, before he began dating Vanessa Abrams. He is a published writer of poetry and songs. At the end of the series, he is attending Evergreen State College in Washington. In the sequel he transfers to Columbia University. He has had a variety of girlfriends, Serena Van Der Woodsen and Mystery Craze before settling down with Vanessa Abrams.
  • Jenny Humphrey is Dan's younger sister and an aspiring artist who wishes to be more like Serena, whom she eventually befriends. She often tries to fit in with the rich girls at her school, even though she does not hold a place in their social sphere. She is eventually kicked out of the Constance Billard School for Girls and sent to a boarding school where she reinvents herself as the "it girl", à la Serena. Her move to the boarding school and her life there became the topic of a spin-off of the series, The It Girl. She admires people such as Blair Waldorf and Serena Van Der Woodsen.
  • Vanessa Abrams is a budding filmmaker and the total opposite of most of her classmates, sporting a shaved head and always wears black. She has a shaky relationship with Dan Humphrey, particularly after she ends up living with the Humphrey family for a short time. At the end of the series, she is attending New York University. In the prequel it is revealed she shaved her head in front of Blair
  • Chuck Bass is the series' handsome, lust-driven antagonist who tries to take advantage of several girls, though it is eventually revealed that he is quite possibly bisexual. He is largely despised by other characters, but due to his wealth and power, he is tolerated. Notes for a planned prequel to the series revealed that Chuck was originally called "Chip Wiskers", but the name was later scrapped in favor of the more substantial sounding variation of the "wood word + animal name" themed moniker applied in the final draft. Plans to depict "Chip" as a Rhythm Gymnast were also cut, due to the overtly feminine nature of the sport. At the end of the series, he is not accepted into any college that he applied to and claims he is going to military college. However, he never arrives at the school and his whereabouts remain unknown. He later returns to New York as a changed, respectable man, albeit somewhat dependent on his wealth. In the books, Chuck is a secondary character. However, he is elevated to a primary role in its television adaptation, in which he holds an intense relationship with Blair, and is best friends with Nate and Serena.
  • Reception

    The criticism of this series primarily revolves around whether the events depicted in the story are appropriate for the teenage audience the books attract. American author and feminist Naomi Wolf calls the books "corruption with a cute overlay," and she claims that "sex saturates the Gossip Girl books.... This is not the frank sexual exploration found in a Judy Blume novel, but teenage sexuality via Juicy Couture, blasé and entirely commodified."

    Pam Spencer Holley, former YALSA President with the American Library Association (ALA), presents a different point of view, claiming simply to be "happy to see teen girls reading." Confident that young girls will move onto more respected literature, she points out, "Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are." She went on to say, "Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances." Holley created a new ALA book list to encourage teens to consult a list of recommendations for "both avid and reluctant readers, who are looking for books like Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series. 'The books on this list are perfect for when your readers have finished with every Gossip Girl title in your library and are clamoring for another book like the Gossip Girl....'"

    Television adaptation

    The television adaptation of the novel series, also titled Gossip Girl, was picked up by The CW. Josh Schwartz, the creator of The O.C., is executive producer for the project. In the show, Blake Lively plays Serena, Leighton Meester plays Blair, Chace Crawford plays Nate, Penn Badgley plays Dan, Ed Westwick plays Chuck, Taylor Momsen plays Jenny and Jessica Szohr plays Vanessa. The show is loosely based on the books and does not follow the same story line. Some key characters from the books, such as Aaron Rose or the Lord, are introduced into the show with different storylines, and some characters undergo changes to their personality and characteristics. For example, Serena's older brother in the books, Erik van der Woodsen is two years younger than her instead of older, and the characters of Serena, Blair, Chuck and Nate have been best friends since childhood compared to the novel series where the story's main friendship was only between Serena, Blair and Nate.

    References

    Gossip Girl (novel series) Wikipedia


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