"Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel" (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), by Candace Bushnell: Candace Bushnell, author of "Sex and the City," the book that inspired the HBO series and two movies, has taken on the daunting task of attracting readers to her new young adult series.
"Summer and the City," her second book in the series, is a mixed bag. It is set in the early 1980s. Carrie has just graduated from high school and is planning to attend Brown University in the fall. She's been invited to participate in a writing class in New York City for the summer.
On her first night in the city, Carrie meets party girl Samantha Jones. Samantha takes her to an event where Carrie meets an older, recently divorced and incredibly handsome playwright. That is how Carrie begins her adventures as a writer in Manhattan.
Carrie spends the summer mulling over her dream of becoming a famous writer while hoping to win the affection of her mysterious older boyfriend. Bushnell does a great job of entwining sexuality as a recurring theme in the book, but as a PG-rated version for her younger audience.
Carrie falls in love with Manhattan, and even the most jaded New Yorker will appreciate her discovery of the city's charms. But the similarities end there. In trying to craft a stand-alone series, Bushnell strays so far from the characters that it's difficult to stay engrossed in the story. And avid fans will notice inconsistencies.
"Summer and the City" would have been a terrific young adult book if Bushnell had introduced four new characters. The problem is readers' history with Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, and their devotion to these characters might be the downfall of this series.