Monday 19 January 2015

Reviewed by Arianne: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle.

Product details:
Publisher: MacMillan Children's.
Paperback, 309 pages.
Release date: January 15th 2015.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Reviewed by: Arianne.

She fell in love with him in the books - now she has the chance to star opposite him in the film . . .

Paige doesn't think she's particularly special, but after getting the starring role in a massive film adaptation of the bestselling Locked trilogy, the rest of the world would disagree. Now she's thrown into the spotlight, and into a world of gossip, rumour and deceit. The only people who know what she's going through are her two male co-stars, and they can't stand the sight of each other. Paige knows it's a mistake to fall in love on the set of a movie, but days of on-screen romance and intensity start to change her mind. The question is, can she keep what happens behind the scenes a secret when the world is watching her every move?

For fans of Susane Colasanti and Amy Finegan, if you’re looking to start 2015 with a fun, glamourous, laugh-out-loud YA read, Famous in Love could be the one for you.

Even I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It’s a carefree, light-hearted contemporary – yet it’s not all that different from a classic epic fantasy. You’ve got the court gossips (reporters and paparazzi), the ordinary heroine with a big dream (Paige Townsen), the treasured prince (Rainer Devon), the loveable rogue (Jordan Wilder) and, of course, a seemingly impossible quest: starring in the film adaptation of a global-phenomenon book series while the world watches on, just waiting for someone to fall from grace.

Paige has always wanted to be an actress; she’s thrown herself into local productions and read screenplays for as long as she can remember. She gets her shot at stardom when she’s plucked from obscurity to play the female lead in a blockbuster new movie alongside some of the most famous teen heartthrobs on the planet. Swept onto set — and into a veritable storm of publicity — in Hawaii, it’s a dream come true until Paige realizes that her co-stars detest each other, notices her best friends are moving on without her, and feels  the  weight of fans’ expectations suddenly on her shoulders. 

If you don’t like love triangles, look away now, because Paige, Rainer and Jordan are locked in the love triangle to end all love triangles. Rainer is the star who inspires screaming fangirls with a single glance, Jordan the mischievous bad boy with trouble on speed dial. Away from the cameras, however, Serle rather brilliantly fleshes them out with problems and secrets of their own.

The book’s rags-to-riches formula is predictable, but there’s solid research and great detail too — in fact, I would’ve loved to have seen more of it. The writing is straightforward and reads like a real teen voice, but it also blindsides you with wisdom and truth.

Unfortunately, the book wasn’t without downsides. Paige spends more time thinking about what it would be like to be with Rainer and/or Jordan than she actually spends getting to know them. The book’s sweet, vapid tone starts to wear thin, particularly when the author tries to introduce more serious themes and it just doesn’t coalesce. It’s spilling over with tropes, including the main character being a girl who ‘doesn’t know she’s pretty and who doesn’t care about what she wears’ yet who spends more pages focusing on how she looks than on her actual talents. Paige is often immature, and passive; it would have been so refreshing to see her take charge of her own decisions and identity, but girl power isn’t a huge priority in this novel. However, there is a glorious level of drama in the book and if you can stick with it, I guarantee you’ll be drawn into the story.

Of course, I have to talk about the ending, which is going to divide readers the world over. All I’ll say is that I definitely did not agree with Paige’s final choice – though with two sequels yet to be released, there’s still plenty of room for a change of heart!

In short: a fun and stylish read that showcases the lighter side of YA contemporary. It’s not perfect, but it is exactly what it claims to be: a breezy, forget-your-worries-and-read-instead novel featuring characters you can’t help but root for.


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