Monday, January 4, 2010

38. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

I've been on Team Lauren since the first season of the now-defunct Laguna Beach (which I loved). Lauren Conrad seems like the kind of girl you want as a best friend -- she comes across as loyal and kind, fun and fashionable. (And yes, I realize that writing those two sentences makes me a complete dork. I've accepted it.) So when I heard that she was writing a trilogy of YA novels about a girl who moves to L.A. and gets a reality show, I was pretty excited -- and skeptical. Every famous-for-doing-nothing celebutante thinks she can write, but that doesn't mean that she can. I checked my library's website and they didn't have a copy, so I kept checking back periodically for the next few months. (I may be a dork, but I'm a cheap dork. No way was I buying it without having read it first.) It finally came in, and then I had to wait for the six people who managed to request it before me to finish. At this point, I really don't even remember when the book came out.

The heroine of L.A. Candy is Jane Roberts, a 19-year old who moves to Los Angeles with her BFF Scarlett. Jane has scored an internship with event planner to the stars Fiona Chen while Scarlett enrolls at USC. The girls are approached by a reality TV producer one night at a club and (once that they've determined that he's legit) they decide to interview for his next project, a Sex and the City-type show about young women in L.A. They get the show, and their world is turned upside down. The show moves them into a new apartment; Fiona promotes Jane -- on-camera, of course; and it readily becomes apparent that this is going to be a lot more work than either of them expected.

All in all, this was a pretty good book. (Yay!) The fact that Lauren Conrad wrote it isn't distracting at all. And while the events are more "inspired by" her experiences than a behind-the-scenes tell-all, you still get tons of insidery details on the production of this kind of show. Jane's producer sent her text messages while filming with prompts to speak up or be nicer to her date. I wonder what kind of texts Lauren received from her producers... I was definitely trying to read between the lines for veiled references to actual people, but I don't think any of the characters are carbon copies of her former cast mates (although the repeated references to one of the characters' stupidity makes me wonder how close Lauren and Audrina Patridge really are). The writing stands up to scrutiny, although it's not so good that you wonder if she had a ghostwriter. I think that Lauren showed a lot of self-awareness and an awareness of how people see her when she created Jane. And the use of other characters' first-person points of view was very effective. As this was the first book in a series of (at least) three, it ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I will definitely have to keep a better eye on my library so I don't have to wait as long to read the second one!

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