General Summary: Charlie is miraculously discovered by a television executive when she’s obnoxiously singing “Single Ladies” while moping floors at a wannabe Starbucks and soon she and her her friends who are all bland as she is find themselves being groomed to be the next Lauren Conrad and co. Will the show pull them apart?
Alright, to be honest I wasn’t expecting much when I checked this one out at the library. I’ve read plenty of Jen Calonita books to know what to expect, but this book is by the far the worst one I’ve read by her.
I will give it this, it’s good clean fun. I would have no problem letting a younger sibling’s or friend’s kid reading it. But besides that, I really can’t be complimentary. Oh, wait it was relatively short. That allowed the book to be finished, but I’ll talk more about that in the best feature portion of this review.
Now, let’s talk about the actual contents of the book. As I said before, not impressive. Perhaps it’s because I’ve read a lot of the authors books that I was able to spot all her tropes (seemingly normal girl who becomes famous, secretly bitchy friend, boy that is based off of a celebrity (in this book it’s Zac Efron), Hollywood’s surprising dark side which really isn’t that much of a surprise, seemingly normal girl is able to get everything fixed by the end of the book, oh and over saturation of description of clothing). Yeah, I sort of knew what I was getting myself into too, but I had hopes. Her recent series, Belles, while it relies on some of these tropes is different enough. This though, just seems it was written to fulfill the requirements of a paycheck. There was nothing unique about it at all.
I think it also didn’t help matters that the characters were hardly developed at all. All of them just stuck to their roles. I was really hoping there would’ve more to all of them or at the very least Charlie and Brooke. Brooke’s transformation to bitch, really didn’t make sense. I was hoping that there would be more explanation than I just wanna be popular. At one point, I actually thought that she secretly was in love with Marleyna. It would’ve made much sense and a more interesting storyline had this been the way Calonita went, but nope. As for Charlie, other than having these friends, working in a coffee shop, and being in love with some guy who apparently wants to be a journalist despite the fact he throws up anytime he has to do public speaking whatsoever, we know nothing about her. She’s just as bland and stupid as her other two friends. When she’s threatened with breach of contract instead of talking to her parents who’d surely get their lawyer involved, she just takes everything at face value (see more about the legal issues in this book in the worst feature section), and their big plan at the end to get out of the contract I think would’ve left more legal issues than they or the author would’ve thought about.
So yeah, not impressed. At all.
Honestly though, I don’t really know what this book could’ve done to improve itself. Better character development and research would’ve helped, but the general concept is cliche. I sort of had an idea it was going to at best get a middle rating from me when I checked it out because how how bland the plot summary was. We’ve seen reality TV turned to YA book before with LA Candy and The Real Real, so this is really nothing new. And the cherry on top is that Calonita didn’t try to make it new. She used tropes that she has used in her other books and still uses in the Belles series. However, unlike Belles, which has its moments, this book does not.
Best Feature: Short: This book was mercifully short, under three hundred pages. So I could stomach finishing it. To be honest about it, I hate DNFing anything, but if a book is ridiculously long and bad I will usually stop it unless it’s train wreck bad like Starcrossed.
Worst Feature: Kangaroo Court: The lack of legal research in this novel was laughable. First of all, one of the biggest conflicts in this book involved breach of contract. However, since the contract was made bya minor it would generally be voidable in the first place. This means when push comes to shove, all those threats about being sued by Fire and Ice would be futile. That’s a pretty big plot hole if you think about it. One that could’ve easily been covered. There were other aspects of the whole deal between the parties that had me shaking my head as well. A lot of this could’ve been fixed with a little reserach, but God it was annoying.
Appropriateness: Clean as a whistle. Honestly, these books are probably middle grade books masquerading as YA books. I feel with Jen Calonita you always get a clean book which is nice. The characters might have a little more sophisticated tone than you’d see in some middle grade book, but it still read pretty young to me.
Blockbuster Worthy: I can see this easily being turned into a Disney Chanel movie of the week. And that’s not a good thing. Here’s who I’d cast:
Charlie: Vanessa Hudgens. Because she’s always paired with Zac Efron in teen movies.
Zac: Zac Efron, obviously. They share the same name (well, the same first name) and looks.
Overall Rating: Three out of ten. This one is sad. I like Jen Calonita, I really do, but this is probably the worst book I’ve read from her. It’s very cliche, groan worthy, and there were just so many things about it that bothered me based on what I know about contracts and just about the legal system in general (Three weeks for the lawyers to resolve everything. Please. Three years is more likely, but for a case as big as this one it could go on even longer).