Review: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
Author: Rebecca Serle
Series: Famous in Love #1
Publisher: Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Format/Source: ARC/From publisher, via BEA
The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.
Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…
When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.
In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
Not What I Expected…
I’m not exactly sure why, but when I first heard of this book, and subsequently picked it up at BEA, I thought that I would be reading a book all about a girl who is thrust into the spotlight, and is having to cope with everything that entails. Loss of privacy, fame, paparazzi, etc. And I was also really thinking that a lot of the scenes with her on the set of the movie would be about how she really feels like she has to get this character correct, because it’s such a beloved character already and she doesn’t want to let the fans down.
Now, to be fair, this book totally has those things in it. BUT not anywhere near as much as I would have liked. This story focuses much more on the love triangle between Paige, Rainer, and Jordan. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, but I do believe they can be done well. And unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of books that are mostly just about the romance. Sure, I enjoy a relationship between characters, but I just don’t enjoy books that are all about the romance. I need more to the story. That’s just me, and I know now that I probably should have realized that this story was going to be mostly about the love triangle. But maybe I was just hoping it would be more about all the other stuff?
I almost DNFed this book several times. Not only did the story focus on the romance and that’s just not a book for me, but there were lots of other things that really bothered me. Like in the beginning, Paige was whining about how she always gets cast as a child. You’re 17! Get used to it! There are 30-year-old women who get cast as highschoolers! And some of the other characters were really one-dimensional stereotypes. And while Paige does talk about the pressure of making August “real” and “loved”, she only mentions this a couple times and then immediately goes right back into thinking about one of her love interests. There’s also a lot more telling than showing.
But the part that really bothered me is that Paige’s favorite movie is She’s All That. Okay, okay, that movie is good for nostalgia’s sake, and it’s a nice guilty pleasure. But it’s her favorite movie? And the worst part–her favorite part of the movie is the scene “where the main guy is waiting for her at her house right before the big school dance, and she walks down the stairs and is totally transformed. All of a sudden, she’s beautiful.” I’m sorry, but that is the worst part in the movie. Sure, everyone can have their own opinions, but that scene just further perpetuates the idea that if you have glasses and don’t wear the most fashionable clothes and aren’t popular that you’re somehow ugly and inferior to the popular people who wear the fashionable clothes. First of all, Rachael Leigh Cook has never been ugly in her life. Secondly, to take a person and to imply that if you take off her glasses and put some makeup on her and put her into a sparkly dress, then she’s suddenly fixed and better is SO WRONG. Sorry, just had to rant a little bit.
I actually took 15 pages of notes, just on this book, and most of it was ranting. I really didn’t enjoy most of it, including the ending. Maybe if I had gone into the book thinking that it would just be a light, fun, romantic read, it’s possible that I would have enjoyed it more. But with all my other issues, I don’t know if that really would have been the case.
My rating for Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle:
Maybe 1.5 stars. I didn’t HATE it like some other books, but I really didn’t like it very much either. But if the story sounds like something you’d enjoy, make sure to check out the other reviews I’ve linked to below–they both enjoyed the book more than I did.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher, via Book Expo America, in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.
pagesunboundDecember 4, 2014 at 11:51 pm
I find that I don't read many contemporary YA novels, and books like this are why. Apparently there's just too great of a temptation for authors to put petty drama into them. I guess that's what they think high school was like? Sometimes I find it hard to believe that writers attended high school. Fantasy settings, on the other hand, usually provide a more high-stakes plot line than "Which guy do I like more?"
I also really dislike the movie cliche of making a girl "beautiful" by removing her glasses. If you want to "transform" a girl for prom or whatever, I can get behind putting her in a frilly dress and adding some make-up–something she wouldn't normally wear that might make you notice her (if only because it's something she doesn't normally wear). But I think we really need to get over the stereotype, as a society, that "glasses are ugly." And apparently ponytails, braids, buns, etc. are "ugly" too because the girl always rips out her hair tie and lets her hair down during this transformation scene.
RamonaDecember 5, 2014 at 6:32 am
Hi Andrea, very good review. I agree, it's not easy to find many good contemporary YA books out there. Thanks for posting this, now I know not to bother. I'm a new follower – please drop by my blog mybookishlife.com and get in touch. Thanks! <3
Brandi KosinerDecember 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm
Aw sorry to hear about the love triangle takingn over the book.