Despite my fervant love of the movie, today’s book list looks at young adult novels that pick apart the lives of the rich, famous or just plain popular.
Audrey’s been mentioned several times in recent book lists. It could sound shallow. A girl breaks up with her self-involved boyfriend on the night of a gig, he pens a song about her and it becomes a hit. A huge hit. So big that it takes over Audrey’s life and paints her as the cold-hearted wretch that broke a poor musicians heart…never mind his flaws. Most interesting of Benway’s work is that Audrey infamy is sketched out in the way it affects those around her in both negative and positive forms. She’s a gal that chooses to stand strong in spite of the way people’s perceptions of her have been clouded by a pop hit. A fun read with plenty of spark.
Charles’ debuted on the Australian YA scene with this tale of a dead celebrity obsessed teen and the unlikely friendship she forms with a senior citizen. Hollywood Ending (re-titled John Belushi is Dead in the US) is anything but predictable. Hilda isn’t a character who has fame thrust upon her, instead she is an individual fascinated by the death of those in the pop culture spotlight.
I had never heard of ‘death hags’ before this tale and while the celebrity is explored it is much more. Charles’ explores her characters, their connections to one another and the outside world with an unblinking gaze. It’s a lovely character piece that peers beneath the gloss to the darkened underbelly of LA and its inhabitants both alive and dead.
Stay with me….Collins explores what her protagonist’s success in the Hunger Games arena means for Katniss and all those who care for her. The ramifications for her rebellion are seen everywhere; her relationships, the political arena and all those who stood in her place since the Games began. In becoming ‘the girl on fire’, Katniss has become a much needed signpost for those suffering in Panem, and cause for fear in those satisfied with the status quo. While many prefer the return to the Games setting with the Third Quarter Quell, the political machinations of the novel’s beginning are fascinating to behold.
Teen heart throb, Luke, attends small town high school to learn about the “real teen experience”. The irresponsibility of his time in high school is handed to Jenny, small towngirl and the anonymous contributor behind the school newspaper’s advice column. Turns out Luke might have more to impart to Jenny than visa versa. Like all Cabot novels, Teen Idol is full of spark, sass and sensational heart flutterings. Luke’s presence sets Jenny’s world on edge but it’s what his friendship achieves that is way more interesting.
Katy’s not famous. She’s just a bookworm who has been forced to spend her summer holiday in LA. With her famous dad…who might be better described as infamous. Known as ‘The Rat’ he was once the drummer of the punk band, Suck, and has since sought rehabilitation after a drug addition. Katy has nothing in common with The Rat. She’s a good girl – but maybe that could change. Castellucci is a master at creating real characters with flaws declared for the world to see. She has a firm handle of humour, heart and finding the colour where there once was only beige.