Sunday, 8 July 2012


Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

If you have a vague interest in fashion or celebrity news, and you know how to use the Internet, chances are you've stumbled across Go Fug Yourself by now. This blog is a bit like kryptonite for me. I can spend hours falling down the rabbit hole of hilarious celebrity fashion crimes - check out the Britney Spears' "Letters of Truth" for a hearty chuckle - and also, nodding along in agreement when they wax lyrical over those celebrities who get it right (Emma Stone, I'm looking at you). So when it was revealed that the writers of the blog, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, had written a Young Adult novel,  suffice it to say I was keen to have a read.

Like any literary genre, sometimes you have to wade through some pretty average YA novels to get to the good stuff. For every Sarah Dessen out there, there are plenty more writers without the insight or the talent to create a genuinely readable book, that doesn't fall into the morass of high school cliches. These days I do most of my reading on the 35 minute train rides to and from work, so any book that keeps me looking at the page and not gazing out the window is ahead of the game. It's funny how a view that I have seen literally thousands of times can still be so mesmerising. Although let's face it, that has far more to do with my tiny attention span, than it does to do with the beauty of the backyards, rundown fences and factories along the railway line. 

I digress. "Spoiled" is a delight. It takes us on the journey of sixteen year old Molly Dix, who finds out her father is movie star Brick Berlin, just before her mother passes away from cancer. After her mother passes away, Molly ups and moves from her life in Indiana to start a new one in the Hollywood Hills with Brick, and his other 16 year old daughter, Brooke. (Brick and Brooke...I know, right?)

It's not unusual for YA novels to be co-authored (for more examples see "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and "Will Grayson Will Grayson" - in fact if you're interested in YA, these two are great books to start with anyway), and while it isn't explained anywhere, I'm going to run with the assumption that the point of view of each of the girls is split between the two authors. As readers, we aren't just privy to Molly's inner monologue as she navigates the changes in her life, but also how Brooke deals having a new sister that she had never heard about until weeks before Molly's arrival. It doesn't take a huge amount of imagination to predict the various conflicts and obstacles that both Molly and Brooke encounter, however Cocks and Morgan bring their wit, sarcasm and knowledge of Hollywood's ridiculous machine to the table, giving the reader something we haven't seen before in a YA novel. And really, part of the attraction of YA novels is finding out how successfully different authors approach the tropes of the genre. Upon further thought, I guess this could be true with any sort of genre fiction.

The novel has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, including a reference early on that those who are aficionados of the early years of Friends will appreciate. It had me chuckling all the way to my desk. Also, the character of Brick Berlin, the girls' movie star father, is the creator of some truly inspirational catch phrases such as "Tears are full of toxins. If you hold them in, they'll flood your brain." Wise words indeed.   If you are a reader who likes to imagine exactly what the characters look like, to me Brick Berlin was a younger version of this guy. Although, if you're familiar with Harry Hamlin's character in Veronica Mars, switch the creepiness to vapid good heartedness. If you're not familiar with Veronica Mars, what are you waiting for? One of the greatest shows of all time. 

Excitingly, "Spoiled" has a sequel. I'm waiting for it to arrive in the mail (who doesn't love Internet shopping? I mean, seriously...) so stay tuned for the next review. 

 If you're into YA novels, or interested in finding out more, there are some great blogs out there. YA Books Central is a good place to start, or for something with an Australian flavour try Persnickety Snark.

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