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Famous in Love is, without a doubt, a complete train wreck. All the issues I’ve with young adult fiction — generally speaking? They exist, inside this book! I never thought such a thing possible, but alas…it has happened.
Let me break it down for you: the recipe to get me to dislike a book.
1. Feature on the cover (or cast in the TV show) an actor I’m not a fan of.
Whilst Zendaya was my fave actress from Shake It Up, I can’t deny that Bella Thorne is a talented actress and dancer. That’s not my problem.
Thorne’s been in the biz since she was a babe. Think the Olsen twins, but there’s just one of her. Her life’s been different from the get-go, though she has attended public school.
Matilda’s Mara Wilson disclosed her theory as to why child actors struggle a few years back; it’s quite important towards understanding my issues with Thorne and my first point’s relevancy to the book.
Living life in front of a camera, with people talking about you and judging all your screw-ups? It sucks. I can imagine only slightly, based on my own similar experience, what it is like to personally grow into an adult while the whole world watches. You want to be sexy at 14 like your friends, or like other kids your age or your favorite influences — even to express yourself — but you can’t without being reprimanded and treated differently.
To sum it up, my issues with Thorne boil down to her questionable morals.
What does this have to do with the book, Jane?!
Ummm, a lot? She’s on the cover. She is literally the face of main character Paige Townsen. And her book, Autumn Falls, which had weird Mary Sue-like instances where fact and fiction roamed so closely together it was hard to figure out the diff between Autumn and Bella Thorne?
Paige Townsen, Autumn, and Bella Thorne might as well be the same. exact. people.
I ignored her being face of the character for the majority of the book, but — and these are issues I explain below — it becomes so glaringly obvious that I can’t be ignorant. Even if she weren’t cast for the face of PG, I would still be like, “Wait, TFx going on here?!”
2. First person POV, present tense
So, there is the possibility of the unreliable narrator. I wasn’t concerned about that. It’s probably not a concern at all.
But…what is happening here? It doesn’t read like a diary, but like a memoir — which doesn’t make sense, because it’s present tense.
It’s like…a voice-over, in book form. PG can’t tell us about this book series the movie she’s doing is adapted from so as not to spoil it for us, and I’m just really confused.
I’m even more confused the more PG rambles on about things that, honestly, are some of the least important details to the story — but look and feel a lot like filler content, to stretch the book’s length longer.
3. Supposedly like a peek behind the scenes of Hollywood, but reads unrealistic AF
Do you ever have a friend or family member explain to you the goings-on of your favorite store, restaurant, or fast food place? Or maybe you’ve worked there instead. Either way, the rude awakening feels a lot like #ChildhoodRuined and don’t meet your heroes.
Well, try this rec on for size:
“A must-read for anyone curious about life and love behind the scenes.”
~Bella Thorne, actor and author of Autumn Falls
And consider the following:
- Autumn Falls was ghostwritten
- Mara Wilson’s stance on child actors re: growing up
- Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? explains that you’re not supposed to use tongue while filming kissing scenes
4. Further unrealistic ish
- I’ve a hard time believing a 17-year-old would fall for two guys she never even had interest in, right off the bat.
- I really feel like this is a hetero romance problem, but: Both guys falling for the girl right away, even though they know absolutely nothing about her.
- It’s got Mary-Sue written ALL OVER IT
- Would someone who’s never acted professionally before really get so swept up in Hollywood, at the same time somehow remaining grounded? I don’t get how that’s possible. I’ve been told you can’t have both by people who tried to have both.
- Why, why, why, why, WHY ARE WE STILL FEATURING SKINNY WHITE GIRLS IN YA?!
5. Twilight-style romance
The oldest romantic interest basically advantage of PG. Like, PG is Bella — ah, crap, look what you made me do. Rainer is Edward. Jordan is probably Jake.
You may as well have taken Twilight, removed vampirism, added a celebrity twist, and just called the whole thing fan fiction. Not quite Fifty Shades of Grey, but as fifty shades as possible when teens are involved.
6. PG reveals next to nothing
First person POV is great if it’s what’s necessary to tell a story without verbosity — to do so with grace and plenty of detail, but not so much detail the reader is drowning in purple prose to the point of not understanding what the fork is going on.
My greatest annoyance with this happens twice:
- Rainer’s age difference. She’s 17, he’s 22. Pretty sure the US is still picky about that. Pretty sure they’d have been criticized about the age diff by someone.
- Who she chooses at the end of the book is not who I would have expected. Honestly, I expected a much different ending and outcome and drama festival — none of which I got.
I’ll not be continuing this series. Initially, I was excited because I was going to read the books and then watch the show — so what if I dislike the face of it?? But it’s so, so cringe-worthy. The book is so, so not any better than what I’ve heard about the show.
There are so many problematic themes in this novel that I just…can’t. I literally cannot fathom that such a thing exists, and yet…it so does.
Series: Famous in Love #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on March 2017
Genres: #nothanks, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Young adult
# pages: 319
Source: Dollar Tree
Paige "PG" Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, causing her life to change overnight.