July 30, 2009

Review: Hollywood is Like High School With Money

This is apparently my 300th post. Pretty exciting, no?

By the way, I finally added an end date to the SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE contest. August 17th, my sister's birthday.

By Zoey Dean

Book Cover

My confession: I've read the A-list series. It was summer, the local library didn't have much in stock, I was bored. What I got was pretty much what I expected - fun enough to read but not really memorable or well-written. (Except for the book where the main character and the girl who once had a lesbian crush on her get high on mescaline and wander around Mexico. It was so weird.) Unlike that series, HOLLYWOOD IS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL WITH MONEY is for adults. Like it, I knew the trajectory of the story when I started.

Zoey Dean does a good job with the classic nice girl must become like mean girls to survive, becomes too mean, gets slapped down, becomes nice again and her life falls into place. (Reading the novel, I started thinking while Taylor made a terrible decision, "I want someone to write this story where the protagonist remains true to his or her ideals. It will push the moral conflict, but the protagonist never crosses the line." If anyone has read this book, please tell me. If anyone is trying to get it published now, you know who to put on the ARC list.)

I was worried that the book was going to be awful after I finished the chapter, due to a simile on page 10:

She reminded me of Sienna Miller in the film Factory Girl, playing Edie Sedgwick, except that her hair was long and wavy and dark gold, with butter-colored highlights that framed her face.

Why not just compare her to Edie Sedgwick? I felt like the simile was trying to be hip, but then why reference a several years old movie that was never popular?

But things quickly improved. Taylor Hennings is quite charming, with her weekly notes to the director who inspired her to work in the movie industry and begging a teenager to teach her how to act cool. I really fell in love with the way she dropped clothing brands after teen queen Quinn gave her a wardrobe of last year's clothing. She describes the events of a night out and then gives a little squeal at the end of the chapter, "And did I mention I was wearing Zac Posen?" She's cleary overwhelmed but reveling in the pricey clothing, and what normal girl wouldn't?

When she does step over the moral line, it feels fake. She knows it's wrong and says it, before being instantly convinced to do it. Like her roommate says, she's like a cute little dog. Her mean girl persona never feels as real as the awkward, friendly Taylor. It really is relieving to see the real deal return at the end.

HOLLYWOOD IS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL WITH MONEY isn't groundbreaking, but I didn't expect it to be. It's a fun summer read, with a far more likeable protagonist than the A-list series. Zoey Dean is also the author of TALENT and PRIVILEGED, now a show on the CW.


  1. That's for adults? Huh. Sounds like a great book for the beach.

    I always wondered how many people were Zoey Dean...

  2. I know this kind of plot backwards and forwards but I still think I'd really enjoy this one.

  3. Sounds fun! Like you said, we kind of know what to expect from books like these... but I still read them :) haha. They're typically a good time! They won't prompt any philosophical discussion -- probably not, anyway -- but they're a good way to while away an afternoon!


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