Justin Bobby, Lo, Brody, Audrina. For those who happen to be among the proud viewers who admit to watching “The Hills,” these names should definitely sound familiar. And for those who haven’t spent countless hours of their lives watching the young, rich celebutantes prance around Los Angeles, kudos to you. Either way, earlier this year the publishing industry joined ranks with the television industry and was also infiltrated by one of these pseudo celebs, Lauren Conrad.
Her first book (fear not, there are rumors there will be more) “L.A. Candy” is the tale of a girl making good in the big city by starring on her own reality television show. If nothing else, at least it’s clear this is a subject about which Conrad knows a thing or two. Written primarily for a teen demographic, the story follows Jane, Scarlett, Madison and Gaby through the ups and downs of becoming overnight celebrities. Romance, drama, jealousy and friendship all play a role in the development of the storyline, and the reader is given the perspective from all of the main characters at one point or another, though Jane is the primary protagonist.
Fans of “The Hills” will find themselves wondering which real-life friend of Conrad served as the model for each character, as the novel so closely mirrors the show in every aspect. Conrad’s unique standpoint allows her the ability to give a sneak peek behind the world of reality television: yes, some of it is scripted, and it seems to be a serious invasion of privacy. Jane, who is clearly Conrad’s fictional counterpart, is the innocent girl next door. Her wide-eyed adulation of the whole production is replaced by resentment of her newfound fame, and the novel is fleshed out by the slow unraveling of her innocence.
From a literary standpoint, “L.A. Candy” is seriously lacking in true content and acceptable grammar and word usage. For example, some might find the use of texting lingo in actual dialogue (OMG, WTF, etc.) to be highly irritating. Then again, it’s unlikely any readers would have expected anything different, and one could argue that Conrad is just catering to her audience. Those who have a love for fashion will appreciate Conrad’s descriptive writing, at least when she writes about the ensembles her characters sport. It’s also worth mentioning that the cliffhanger ending is a clever way to get readers coming back for each new installment.
“L.A. Candy” is basically the text version of “The Hills” with slightly escalated drama and different character names. And much like its reality show counterpart, Conrad has given the novel the innate ability to draw the reader in. At first, there’s no admission that what is being read is actually interesting or remotely intriguing. About halfway through, however, the reader finds him or herself wondering what really will happen between Jane and Jesse and whether Madison will get caught in her lies. If nothing else, “L.A. Candy” is a good book for indulging the drama queen hidden within. Just ignore the laughably serious photo of Conrad on the back cover.
Rating: W W