Tuesday, April 19, 2016

L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“Real relationships - the kind that were supposed to last but never did - were more trouble than they were worth.”

Pop culture enthusiasts will remember Lauren Conrad for her many years spent on MTV’s reality A-List with two hit shows: Laguna Beach and The Hills. Since breaking onto the scene of reality television a decade ago, her career has exploded with not only two shows under her belt but successful ventures in lifestyle, fashion and literature.

Lauren Conrad is a woman of many talents and one of my favorite people, well, ever.

L.A. Candy marked her first dabble into the release of young adult fiction and serves a dishy alternative to The A-List by Zoey Dean and Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. It is the first of a trilogy, and followed quickly by a sequel trilogy as well, and is the very definition of beach reads.

Fans of those series will have certainly flocked to this gem and its follow-ups because reading it is just a genuinely good time. It’s smart and stylish but not a slow read. Once you’re in it, you’re in it until the finish and can’t take your eyes from it pages. The biggest mistake anyone could make with this novel is by thinking it'll be something other than it's not: don't take it too seriously.


Possibly based loosely on Lauren’s own experiences with the spotlight and reality television, L.A. Candy follows two best friends as they move to L.A. after high school; Jane and Scarlett are just like us. Both leads are very sweet and fun to read about and I adore their friendship! After a chance encounter with a television producer, the girls are given the chance to star in a new reality series for Pop TV.

Scarlett and Jane are equal parts excited and hesitant for the opportunity but soon find out that being in the spotlight came with far more baggage than they’d hope. Gone is their privacy and anonymity and now, it seems, they have to constantly be “on” for the cameras.

Thrust into a glamorous world of secrets and backstabbing, the two struggle with, well, all of it. From romance, to friends, to any and everything in between, the girls can’t help but wonder what is really their reality. I definitely enjoyed the contrast between Jane and Scarlett when it came to how they dealt with this newfound fame.

Jane has the easier time of the two when it comes to adjusting to this life; with an internship of her dreams, she begins dating a Hollywood it-boy to try and forget her ex-boyfriend and the guy she’s currently crushing on, who happens to be her new boyfriend’s best friend, and befriends the two other girls who round out the cast, Gaby and Madison.

But in Hollywood, nothing is as it seems, and sometimes those who seem like they love you and have your back actually don’t. The look into that statement, that trope, is a really fun read because it keeps you guessing and wondering who’s intentions are pure and who’s, well, aren’t. It’s amazing what a camera and fame can do to a person.

Scarlett doesn’t know what to do about all these changes. On one hand, she was excited for the opportunities, but the novelty of it all ended pretty quickly. All she really wants, as things heat up, is to go back to the way things were before she and Jane joined L.A. Candy–she misses her privacy and her best friend.

There’s a bit of a gap between the two now, despite their awesome new living arrangements, and while it isn’t huge and too damaging, it is starting to form. Not to mention Scarlett can’t seem to find her place in the show or her school. While Jane is sugary sweet and a delight to read from, Scarlett feels more real with all her subtle differences and she rounds out the cast perfectly.

We meet other minor characters–the occasional love interest, Madison and Gaby. Of the two, Madison gets more page time due to her catty nature and ulterior motives. Add a few television executives and gossip columnists, bosses, co-workers, cast members, minor friends, classmates and so on, we’ve got a wide variety of characters.

L.A. Candy is just a breezy read that will leave you grinning. It’s not unlike reality television–dishy, fun and not at all everyone’s cup of tea, but stylish nonetheless. I loved the vibe it gave and can’t help it–it was delicious! We're left with a massive cliffhanger when scandal arises, so you know we are only just getting started.

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