I Read Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s YA Book So You Don’t Have To

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Photo: Maya Robinson and Photos by Getty

Kylie and Kendall Jenner are co-authors (alongside two ghost writers, also co-authoring) of a new dystopian young-adult novel. It’s called Rebels: City of Indra, the Story of Lex and Livia. It's got two interwoven plotlines, an unexpected birth-control plot twist, and clocks in at 342 pages. No pictures.

Rebels takes place in the type of future where people talk in the way of steampunk: a little old-timey, a little futuristic. You never know what you're going to get. It’s the sort of future where words and phrases are capitalized with willy-nilly indiscrimination. Pleasant Interaction. Reliance on Others to Affirm Our Femininity. Etiquette Tutor. Sunrise Retreat. Rendez-vous Drill Facile.

The most pervasive tension in this futuristic world is that people are only allowed to have one offspring, or terrible fortunes will befall them. So, yes, the youngest sisters in the large Kardashian-Jenner progeny have written an only-child fantasy novel. 

Let's jump into the SparkNotes shall we? Kendall — self-described "worst reader" — would approve of this shortcut. 

Context

The Jenners' novel takes place in the dystopian-YA-future du jour: The technology is highly evolved, but everything is grimy.

The book is split between the narratives of Lex and Livia: who live in Rock Bottom and a private, floating dream island, respectively. They are both the standard YA-heroine-age: not a girl, not yet a woman

There is some shady government that tracks people through access chips and harvests their memories for the Archives, which are highly guarded. Aside from the mention of a High Council, there isn't much explanation about who these memory-gatherers are or why they could possibly want/use many lifetime's worth of memories. 

Plot Overview

The plot is not entirely comprehensible. At one moment, I believe it veers unintentionally out of chronology, then pops back in, no questions asked. But does anyone read books for plots anymore?

Setting

The book focuses on the city of Indra, which is a "self-sustaining biosphere," put together from the remains of Earth. It's a city the size of the East Coast, and it's like a Buckminster Fuller fever dream. "Whose mind dreamed her to life?" someone says. Indra is also female, one surmises. Indra is called the "city of impossible architecture," "a monument of impossible wonder," and "an unforgiving bitch."

Characters

Lex is a hard-scrabbled, bullheaded, tough-talking orphan. Livia is an indignant, bullheaded debutant orphan. They both have a small neon-green symbol on their eyes. Twinsies.

Marius is a semi-ineffectual pseudo-intellectual who runs about citing manners for Livia. The Governess is Livia's beauty-obsessed debutante coach who gets her wrinkles removed yearly at the Rejuvenation Island Clinic. 

The two love interests are Kane, he of a “curling smile,” and Zaviar, he of “ice-cold eyes.” 

Other characters are named things like Arnaud Cosmos, Delphia, Cassina, Roscoe, and Jefferson

Key Themes

Obsession With Acquired Beauty: The elites of Indra manipulate their looks in various ways, from the archaic (corset-cinchers) to the innovative (rosebud cheek infusions). It all seems to hurt: "The price of beauty is hidden behind torture machines."

Global Warming: Since the Great Catastrophe that ravaged Earth, everything is fake or "synth." The elite groups are fooled into thinking their life is sustainable. "Your air may be clean, but the core is getting hotter. The Earth’s just dying from the inside now."

The Arbitrary Nature of Beauty Ideals: Being short (like five two) is an "obvious misfortune," that would leave someone “utterly devastated.” Both Lex and Livia are very tall, so they fit into the standards of beauty, not that they could help it. 

Birth Control and Government-Ordered Family Planning: Every woman takes an EX2 pill, we learn, which is a form of birth control, especially to curb having multiple kids. This is a wholly unexpected theme. 

Paranoia About Data Tracking: The High Council files away all of everyone's experiences, and then presents only a handful of these memories back to each person.

Misgivings About a Life Examined: Lex has a chip in her brain, unbeknownst to her, that keeps track of her every movement. When the chip is removed, she can finally be her "real" self. Is this about how constant media scrutiny strongholds ones personality? Perhaps.

Fun Strato New Slang:

• Core-low is an insult that refers to something rude or unseemly. Used in a sentence: "That’s about as core-low as you get."

• Zingers are swords. It's a little Shakespearean!

• Airess is an heiress who lives on a floating island. 

• Stratosphere or Strato. So awesome! Used in a sentence: “You were stratosphere," she says, “you made us all look good.”

• Cloudcase means someone out of touch with the world. Used in a sentence: "This isn’t another uppity cloudcase."

The Best Sentences, in No Particular Order

Once flowers even had a scent, like perfume.

The smell of human waste.

We escape through flecks of my golden scream.

A real man.

Time works funny here.

Essay Questions

Assign each person in the Kardashian family to a major or minor character. Include Kanye for extra credit! 

Compare and contrast Indra and Calabasas. 

Use core-low in a sentence once today.

Divide the number of pages of this book (342) by the number of episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Just some fun math, no reason to stick to literature.