Google+ YA Romantics: Spies, Alter Egos and Serial Killers Part I: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spies, Alter Egos and Serial Killers Part I: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something Real
by Heather Demetrios
Published on February 4, 2014
by Henry Holt BYR

Synopsis from Goodreads: There’s nothing real about reality TV. Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
So you might be thinking: "Huh? Why is this book included in Jen's theme week on Spies, Alter Egos and Serial Killers? I thought this was contemporary YA about a girl on reality TV?"

It is. However, besides the fact that this book might want give you the urge to kill multiple characters within it, part of the premise is a girl with an alter ego.


I'll get back to that part. 

Something Real was one of those books I'd decided to take a pass on. The Hunger Games aside, I haven't had much luck with YA books that have a reality TV element. I've tried books like The Real Real, Countdown, Flash Point, The Selection and Nerve. Some I finished, others I didn't, but none were a great fit for me. So I decided to take a pass on Something Real. But then I kept reading really great reviews for it, so I decided to request it at the library and give it a try. I'm really glad I did.

Something Real is the story of a girl whose large family was the center of a reality TV show. A few years later, she's happily attending high school under a different name with kids who don't recognize her or know about her reality TV past (the promised Alter Ego Element!) Then all that changes and, to her horror, the cameras are going to be back on her again. Will she lose her friends as all her dirty family laundry and personal issues are gleefully rehashed on TV and in the tabloids?

Something Real was sheer pleasure to read, with a relatable main character who has some wonderful family relationships and others that are strained and dysfunctional. She has great, loyal friends. But growing up in the spotlight was tremendously hard for her and now she's stuck between her mom, who needs money, the production company, which is holding the purse-strings, and her own desires for a "normal" life. I found her struggles -- with her parents, the production company, and herself -- very poignant and realistic. Of all the characters in the book, she definitely was the one who showed a huge amount of growth by the end.

Most of the book's other characters fell into the easy-to-hate or easy-to love category. Patrick might be one of the most adorable book boys in the history of book boys. He's like .... a unicorn. Like a cross between Lloyd Dobler and Rob Gordon. He works in a record store and talks about his feelings. Benton and Matt are both super-adorable too. Tessa and Mer are a great pair of best friends and I even grew to like prickly Lexie.

The reality show element of Something Real made me hate myself for ever tuning in for a few episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras or Supernanny. I think that Reality Boy by A.S. King did a great job of showing the Faustian bargain that reality show participants engage in, and when a reality show involves kids who are forced to participate by their parents, the bargain seems even less of a good one. 

So -- don't make that mistake, and don't my mistake either and skip this book. If you love contemporary YA, you will definitely want to check out Something Real. It's a surprisingly suspenseful, incredibly charming, delightfully feel-good read. And, you know, this will sound totally meta, but this book would make an amazing movie. Just saying....

29 comments:

  1. I didn't like Reality Boy enough to say READ IT WHY THE HELL HAVEN'T YOU YET, the ending lacked something. Will I like something real? The synopsis sounds really similar.

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    1. They both looked at the effects of reality TV on a teenager who was forced into participation by a parent. Reality Boy was a much darker book This one definitely had its sad moments but was in the end a feel-good book about standing up for yourself.

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  2. Fabulous post, btw. When do we get to meet the spies and serial killers? :)

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  3. Love the sound of Patrick and need to find out more about him

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  4. Yay! I'm so glad you came back and gave Something Real a try. I also really enjoyed this book and adored Patrick, he's the kind of guy you actually want to date in real life.

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  5. Hmm, not sure if I want to read this or not. I'm not a fan of reality tv so I'm not sure if I like it.

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    1. Okay, so that is exactly what I thought. But you must try this book. Seriously!!

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  6. Nice review ! think I'll give this book a try :)
    Rimsha@Ramblings of a Bookworm

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  7. I bought this book because I kept hearing such good things about it!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  8. Wow, I also hadn't planned to read it, but now I'm definitely going to remedy that, this sounds fantastic. I don't normally like reality tv show premises, though I did like Reality Boy, and with the amazing reviews for this I can't pass it up. Lovely review!

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  9. Wow. I'm not into the reality tv as book thing, but I've seen several positive reviews for this book lately, and after reading yours I'm really sorry I skipped requesting it! I will have to see if I can get it from the library. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. I didn't request it either. But I really do recommend it!

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  10. Never heard of this book before. I am intrigued now, I must say. Haven't read other books dealing with reality TV shows either besides THG.

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    1. It's completely different, but if you like contemporary YA, I highly recommend that you try it!

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  11. A unicorn-like guy? I must read this one! Reality TV books are usually a hit or miss for me, but this one is one I'll definitely need to check out. Wonderful review, Jen! <3

    Aimee @ Read by the Undead

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    1. He is SO the unicorn guy. If I guy like that actually exists, I need the proof :)

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  12. I was thinking about reading this book so I'm glad to hear you liked it.

    I haven't watched reality shows in years. They just seem sad to me & like you mentioned - a Faustian bargain. It's just not worth it to me.

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  13. I don't watch any reality tv, but I don't picking up books that are about them. I think this one sounds like a good one. I'll keep an eye out for it. :)

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  14. This book totally made me want to punch characters, but I did really like the portrayal of the dark side of reality TV. I usually don't have great luck with reality TV books either, but I'm glad that I took the chance on this one.

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    1. Right? It was a contest between Chuck and Beth as to who was the most punch-worthy...

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  15. I'm planning on reading this one pretty soon and definitely after reading that you enjoyed it!

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