Saturday, September 22, 2012
Book Review: Beneath the Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler
Authors: Elle and Blair Fowler
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Source: ARC received via giveaway from publisher
Plot summary from Goodreads:
Welcome to a place where dreams are made. And where nothing—and no one—is ever what it seems.
After their make-up and fashion videos went viral on YouTube, sisters Sophia and Ava London are thrust into the exclusive life of the Los Angeles elite. Here fabulous parties, air kisses, paparazzi and hot guys all come with the scene. Sophia finds herself torn between a gorgeous bartender and a millionaire playboy, and Ava starts dating an A-list actor. But as they’re about to discover, the life they’ve always dreamed of comes with a cost.
Beneath the glitter of the Hollywood social scene lies a world of ruthless ambition, vicious gossip…and betrayal. Someone close to them, someone they trust, is working in the shadows to bring the London sisters falling down. And once the betrayal is complete, Sophia and Ava find themselves knee-deep in a scandal that could take away everything they care about, including the one thing that matters most—each other.
I went into this book with absolutely no knowledge of who Elle and Blair Fowler are. If you're like me, let me fill you in: apparently they are two sisters from Georgia who started posting makeup and fashion how-to videos on YouTube back in 2008. They blew up online and have since moved to LA to begin starting their own makeup brand. I guess they have been in all sorts of magazines and TV shows as well. (Since my desire to know about makeup extends as far as the 1 tube of mascara I buy every 6 months, it's not too surprising that I was in the dark about this.)
Once I figured out who they were, I made every attempt to go into this with an open mind. I know I have made comments about fluffy chick lit before, but I like them as guilty pleasure reads every now and again, so I was totally game for some shopping and lipstick time.
Unfortunately, this just didn't do it for me. I was immediately turned off when I found out that the two main characters of the novel (Ava and Sophia) are sisters...from Georgia...who moved to LA...to start their makeup business. Sound familiar? Ladies, if you wanted to write about yourselves so badly, write a memoir. Writing fiction with characters thinly veiled as yourselves just smacks of unoriginality. Not to mention, it is very annoying for me as a reader to see Sophia/Elle and Ava/Blair have all sorts of amaaaazing boys throwing themselves at them, get invites to every big Hollywood party, and win all sorts of awards (that they actually were nominated for but did not win in real life, like the MTV Web Star Award), etc. We get it, you think very highly of yourselves, yawn.
(Related to that: it drove me INSANE that Sophia/Elle was given a camera as a gift, shot ONE roll of film, and the photos ended up in a huge photography show because they were so spectacular. As an amateur photographer who has worked on technique for years, that is mildly insulting.)
There are a several plot holes. One to illustrate: Ava and her friend Dalton go out at 4:30am to rescue some puppies on the beach. (Yes, we've resorted to rescuing puppies, OMG SOMEONE STAB ME WITH A FLUFFY PINK PEN.) It is reiterated many times that they have to do it in no less than a half hour because the tide is coming in. They finish the mission, and Dalton drives Ava to her noon meeting...which she is late for. So they hurriedly rescued puppies at 5am, and didn't get done until 12:30pm? I'm confused. There were several glaring holes like this throughout the novel.
However, my biggest criticism is for the ending. The first chapter of the book foreshadows to an event 5 months in the future, when Sophia and Ava are arrested for something. You don't know what or why. So the whole novel, you're waiting to find out (although it is GLARINGLY obvious who the culprits are pretty early in the novel...major predictability here). And it is revealed...in literally half a page, 2 pages from the end of the book. So much information is skipped over, it makes you wonder why in the world they foreshadowed it in the beginning at all. I think it was mainly done as a tactic to woo you into reading the sequel (apparently coming out next year), but it just feels clumsy and unsatisfying.
I've been pretty harsh here, so I will try to list a few redeeming qualities (because I rarely think a book is 100% bad). This is a YA novel that I think will appeal to the YA readers who are fans of Elle and Blair in real life. If you're into fashion, makeup, celebrity glamour, etc. you'll probably enjoy some of the detail that's included along the way. It mentions puppies and kittens a lot, so...you'll like that if you're an animal lover?
Okay, I'm clearly losing this battle with myself. I wasn't a fan, plain and simple. It's sloppily written (I suspect ghostwritten), totally predictable, and too closely mirrors Elle and Blair in real life. Fiction is supposed to be fiction--not an obvious attempt to make your life sound more glamorous. It comes off as snobbish rather than fun. If you're under the age of 16 and a fashion lover, give it a shot; otherwise, no bueno. Stick to YouTube, ladies.