I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Map to the Stars by Jen Malone
Published by HarperCollins/HarperImpulse on July 14th 2015
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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Author Jen Malone draws on her real-life experiences as a movie studio publicist to bring you an insider peek at love, Hollywood-style. \r\nThe California dream was supposed to give seventeen-year-old Annie Shelton a fresh start far removed from her dad’s unusual betrayal. But when things don’t go according to plan in La La Land, Annie’s mom snags a last-minute gig as makeup artist to a teen movie idol and finagles a spot for her daughter on his European promotional tour.\r\nDown-to-earth Annie would rather fangirl architectural sights than an arrogant A-lister. That is, until behind-the-scenes Graham Cabot turns out to be more sweetly vulnerable than she could have imagined. \r\nToo bad falling for a poster boy isn’t all red carpets and star treatment, especially when you factor in obnoxious fans, an overprotective assistant, a stage mom/manager, and a beefy bodyguard.\r\nBut it isn’t until the paparazzi make an appearance that things get really sticky…\r\n
I wish I could say that I liked Map To the Stars, but it fell so flat for me that I tripped over it on the sidewalk. Terrible analogy but accurate all the same. Lemme just give you a list of all the reasons this book didn’t work for me:
- Insta-love done poorly. When Annie and Graham aka the Movie Star first meet, he assumes she’s a fangirl that’s managed to weasel her way into his hotel room before he gets there. Their later interactions suggest that they just have so much spark they fired off at each other the first time they met. You know that story: boy and girl dislike each other and lash out, only to later realize how much they lurv each other and that’s why they lashed out. Besides the whole “I like you so I’m going to treat you like crap” trope that I am SO TIRED OF, it’s just overplayed and in this case, completely unbelievable.
- Mom and Annie left Georgia for #reasons (that were stupid). I began to suspect, not too far into the novel, why Annie and her mother just uprooted and left their home and I told myself if I was right, I was going to be really effing mad. And I was right. But since the big reveal isn’t until the last 10% of the book or so, I felt like I may as well finish it out so I could at least get another completed book in my Goodreads challenge. Yep, that’s right. I finished it for the numbers. I didn’t finish it because I liked it or anything crazy like that. Anyway, I digress. The reason was stupid and lacked any sort of believability at all. No mother is going to uproot her kid during senior year of high school because of such a minor thing. You know what would have been more believable? If mom left to take this job and Annie stayed with Dad. That actually makes sense to me, but that wouldn’t have worked for an author who was looking for a plot device to get her prince and pauper together. Eye roll.
- Annie and Graham were soooooooooooooo melodramatic. One minute they hated each other and the next they were kissy-kissy, and then again hated each other. Graham tells her he can’t be seen with her, and then takes her out. She tells him she’s tired of his crap, and then smoochies with him. Yeah, I guess that’s actually typical of some teenage emotion, but when paired with the rest of the story, it just was blah.
- The ending was too neat. All this drama and everything ends just perfectly (sorry not sorry for that spoiler). I like when not every single thing is easy for characters. Yes, even in HEAs.
I actually did enjoy all the backstage scenes, because, whether or not that was real, they lent a bid of credibility to Graham’s lifestyle and story. And there were some really funny quotes in there – if Map To the Stars did anything well, it was funny at times.
“I’m a producer. You ever try to talk a neurotic actor off an emotional clif? They’re nearly as bad as writers. I’m basically one hissy fit short of earning Dr. Phil status at this point in the game.”
So, look, Map To the Stars wasn’t a terribly awful book. Some readers who are looking for a teen romance with some Hollywood thrown in for fun might actually like this. It’s made for hot summer days on a beach, but it’s also a book you wouldn’t be upset if it got sand in the spine or wet from splashes…or drowned in the ocean altogether. I am highly critical of contemporary romances, teen or not, so just take my opinion with a grain of salt… and a side of margarita.