I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
When done correctly, I love YA contemporaries.
However, most of the time they’re epic failures. Especially if they involve reality TV.
Luckily, Something Real seems to an abnormality.
And I think it succeeded, in part, because it avoided other pitfalls that are commonly seen in books that tackle reality television.
To discuss what makes this book so good, I think there needs to be some discussion in what makes books so bad that take up the reality TV trope.
Trope One: The MC is usually the stable one.
Chloe/Bonnie is normal enough in this book, but she breaks this trope because of her past. And the fact that reality TV really does mess her up. I liked the fact that we actually have a character that is effected in a negative way (more than their friends backstabbing them) from reality TV. And it probably helped that Demetrios went more for a TLC type of reality show than an MTV show.
I’ll just say it, I’m addicted to the trash that station airs. And I think a lot of people are. Which really sad considering the shows raise a lot of social issues. I mean, seriously how is it healthy raising twenty plus children and having their lives broadcast 24/7. Well, plenty of fame whores think it’s okay.
And Something Real gives insight on what goes on behind the scenes. The psychological ramifications that hit Chloe/Bonnie make the story. In fact, the reality show itself sort of takes a backseat. I will say though, at times Chloe/Bonnie’s backstory might get a little soapish. And that’s probably what will annoy a good chunk of people reading this book. It’s what made me dock a lot of points off from this novel. But come on, you sort of get her frustration. I mean, if I had a camera following me around 24/7 I probably would be tabloid news too.
Trope Two: There’s this super hot boy who doesn’t notice the MC until she’s famous
Not so much here. There is a really cute hero in this book, but the flirtation starts at the beginning of the book before the fame. And the fame, is more or less, an impediment to the relationship in a different sort of way than escalates it. Also, I loved how there was no you loved me different before/after you were famous plot. Because God knows those plots are lame.
Though, the TV show does effect the relationship. Somewhat.
Not much though. And I really love how the relationship between Chloe/Bonnie and Patrick wasn’t the only relationship in this book. Chloe’s brother, Benny’s relationship with his boyfriend Matt is prominently featured as well.
Yes, a LGBT supporting character who has a role other than being the token gay b.f.f. or relative. And I have to tell you, there’s a super cute scene between Benny and his boyfriend that’s not merely background material.
Trope Three: That Reality Shows Like The Majority of YA is Filled with WASPS
Not so much here. Baker’s Dozen (Chloe/Bonnie’s reality show) is sort of like if Brad and Angelina had a reality show about all their kids. Meaning that there is diversity in this family. Which is so refreshing on so many levels. The only thing I have to say about this, is that I wish more of Chloe/Bonnie’s siblings would’ve had a bigger role in the book besides her natural siblings. Since they had such little roles, I really almost thought they were token characters which really made me sad because I liked the idea of having this big diverse family. That being said, I did love the siblings whose roles were expanded.
Trope Four: Most Friends Are Fame Whores
Once again, not so much here. Not one of Bonnie’s friends rats her out.
Maybe not, but definitely refreshing. I liked how Chloe/Bonnie’s friends were the stable influences in her life, while it was the mother that was more or less the stabilizing influence in her life. Her parents on the other hand…
Well, they’re kind of fame whores. Okay, they are fame whores.
They’re probably one of the worst people to raise a child in YA, but but I preferred having the horrible parents to the horrible friends cliche. Bad parents, at least, can be amusing.
Overall, I am going to recommend this one with little reservations. While there are some trigger alerts, the book does talk about suicide attempts and there is some talk about mental illness, it’s not handled repugnantly. Demetrios has a strong voice and I’m interested in seeing her stuff in the future.