The book, about reality-tv star 19-year-old Jane Roberts certainly sounds like a semi-autobiographical journey for the author, the star of MTV's "reality" show, The Hills. Other than a few name changes I'm not sure how this is much different. I'd assumed that it would be pure fluff. The story was certainly enjoyable though and even a bit weightier than I had anticipated.
Naturally, the lion's share of the story centers around the social lives of Jane and her best friend Scarlett. They are both new to Los Angeles, starstruck and boy crazy. Despite being an attractive natural blonde, Jane considers herself a "plain Jane" while Scarlett is a confident brunette bombshell. Jane's just scored an internship with renowned event planner, Fiona Chen. Scarlett plans to coast through classes at USC while she decides what to do with herself. When Hollywood producer Trevor Lord starts talking to them in a nightclub, they initially assume that he's trying to hit on them... but eventually he convinces them to come for an audition for a new reality show filming Los Angeles. In the interview, the producers are impressed with the girls' natural good-looks and unaffected demeanor. Just like that, they are in!
With the cameras rolling, Jane and Scarlett are soon treated to a new luxury apartment and VIP lifestyle. I liked the behind-the-scenes reality behind "reality" tv... the awkwardness of being miked, the staged "spontaneous" scenes... it all rang very true.
Of course, everyone's wondering whether L.A. Candy was ghostwritten. (And wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if it was?) A careful inspection of my copy didn't seem to reveal anything in the fine print... maybe Lauren Conrad really did write this herself! I can't help but think of one of the episodes from the first season of The Hills where Lauren is called into her boss's office. Her boss asks her, "Can you write?" and she nervously replies, "Um... Yes?" There's an eerily similar scene in the book between the character Jane and her boss, event planner Fiona Chen. Her demanding and cold boss suddenly turns into a warm mentor when the cameras are rolling.
While the celebrities are all fictional, the names of many of the businesses and designer-name items in the book are not. The name-dropping and general tone strongly reminded me of Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girls and It Girl series.
The story's somewhat of a cliffhanger ending leaves everything definitely very much unresolved. Fans of MTV's The Hills or the genre that I'd term "Chick Lit Jr." will definitely be clamoring for more. Fortunately for them, Conrad has signed a 3 book deal, so there are certain to be at least 2 more installments in the series.
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