Rating: ★ ★ ★
Synopsis: Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Review: Novels about Los Angeles have always appealed to me, especially those which focus on the illistrious, yet seedy underbelly of the city. Add in a sketchy competition, and it’s was right up my alley. This book felt a lot like something I would’ve read and adored in middle school, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I still enjoyed it now. It was fast paced and thrilling, and despite being long and not getting to the nitty gritty parts of the book until the very end, it never dragged. It was a solid novel and a good kickoff to what I’m sure is going to be a series growing in complexity.
However, I anticipated and wanted something far more atmospheric. This might be the one book that I actually craved exposition in, as I think it would’ve helped craft the tone and allow for less explicit description of each moment. There was depth, but it was only just enough for the three main players to not be considered surface characters. And while I normally do not comment on grammar in books, unless it is unique and purposeful or truly horrendous, I must say there was significant comma misuse that interrupted the flow of the novel and was sometimes confusing. I’ve never read an Alyson Noel novel before, so maybe that’s just her style, but either way I was turned off by it.
I look forward to continuing this series, but it has not skyrocketed to the top of my list as I wish it had. It was a solid, interesting read, and I know that the series is only going to get better, especially with that cliffhanger. It was not, however, a standout. Unrivaled certainly left me yearning for more, but I’m just not sure when I’ll want it.