October 24, 2014

Flashing Lights & Famous Faces

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Hachette | Poppy
Pages: 336 pages
Source & Format: Publisher at BEA; ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on Famous in Love
I hadn't read anything by Rebecca Serle before, so I picked up Famous in Love at BEA because I had been meaning to read one of her books. While I don't always like love triangles, I don't avoid them either. So, I wasn't scared off by the summary of this book. In fact, I was intrigued by the idea of a young girl rising to stardom and watching her whole life change overnight. With new YA book-to-movie adaptations being made every day, this book seemed particularly timely.

Famous in Love opens with a prologue, which I found so intriguing. You're hearing from the narrator as she tells you a secret that no one knows. I loved the conspiratorial tone, and I genuinely wanted to find out more. Then, you go back in time with the first chapter. Paige Townsen dreams of being an actress, and she finally gets her big break when she's cast as the lead in a movie adaptation of a bestselling series. Next thing she knows, she's filming on the shores of Maui and spending a lot of time with her co-star, Rainer Devon. When the role of the other love interest is cast, things get tense on set. Rumored bad boy Jordan Wilder brings a whole new dimension onscreen, but he's also upping the drama behind the scenes, too.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much that worked for me in Famous in Love. Paige is very immature, and she was such an annoying narrator. She constantly doubts herself, whines about the things happening around her and is just boring. I don't know how to explain it, but I spent the whole time finding it hard to believe she was such an impressive actress that she was plucked from obscurity and given the lead in such a huge franchise. That's a huge responsibility, and I think it's realistic that Paige would be nervous - but I didn't have any confidence in her or believe that she was actually talented. It never seemed like she was doing anything correctly!

I think I might have liked the story better if it was focused on Paige's rise to stardom - how she adjusted to being away from her friends, the tension in her family, what it was like on set, a peek at what it's like behind the scenes, etc. I'd totally be interested in a book about a girl whose dreams are coming true! But that's not the story being told in this book. There are hints of it, but it's never fleshed out. Alas, the love triangle is basically the entire plot. The focus of Famous in Love is almost entirely on the developing romance between Paige and Rainer... and Paige and Jordan. It wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't also one of the most underdeveloped romances I've ever read.

Famous in Love gives you instalove and asks you to connect to the love triangle. It gives you two-dimensional love interests and wants you to become invested in Paige's choice. And it expects you to believe that both of these rich and famous young actors would be so interested in Paige that they would do anything to win her attention and affection. I didn't buy it for a second. Paige is insanely attracted to both guys within seconds... Okay, I can believe that. But to be acting like she's in love with them even though you barely see her interact with either one of them? No. I'm not sure what she sees in either one of them - or even what they see in her.

Almost the entire book is telling, not showing. Paige tells you that the director screams at her - you don't see that happen. Paige tells you that she's always wanted to be an actress and this is her dream - you don't get to watch that play out. She tells you Jordan makes her a better actress and that Rainer is declaring his feelings for her in front of everyone on set. She tells you that she feels left out when her friends arrive for a visit, but there's very little showing that to be true. I just wanted to shout - "PLEASE STOP TELLING ME AND JUST GIVE ME A SCENE WITH SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN IT!"

Famous in Love is basically Paige's angsty internal monologue. She may be a great actress... but a storyteller she is not. There is very little build-up and almost no background with anything happening in the book. It's fun at first, but it gets really old, really fast. There was some possibility in certain storylines, but everything was sacrificed for the sake of the love triangle. Sadly, the romance was so flat and unemotional that I couldn't wait to be done with it. And don't even get me started on that ending. What kind of nonsense was that?! I'm sorry, but the final chapter sealed the deal for me. It didn't even make sense, except maybe as a ploy to make you read the next book. Famous in Love had potential, but it ultimately crashed and burned.

So Quotable
"People always say that there are a million ways to solve a problem, that no question has a black-and-white answer. It's not true. There are, at any moment, only two courses of action. The one that leads you toward something – stardom, love, disaster – and the one that leads you away from it. And at any moment, in any instant, you have to do your best to know which is which."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

2 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more! I don't stray away from love triangles, although I'm not their biggest fan, but there are limits to how GOOD they can be. Paige was constantly talking about how much she loved this person, or how bad she was doing, or how important her family was...but there was never anything to show it! I remember getting so frustrated with the scene when she was in the limo headed to a book signing with Jordan.. It shows them talking in the limo and getting out, then the next chapter was her THINKING back on the night.. Whyyy couldn't it just happen then? It was so oddly written.

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  2. I share a similar mentality with you in regard to love triangles. In this particular book, though, it sounds like it doesn't work well at all. That's too bad. I haven't either of Serle's books, but I will not be breaking that trend with this one. Thanks for the honest and informative review, Hannah!

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