Book Review: When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Raziel Reid)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Atom

Pages: 176

Release Date: February 14th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.

Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It’s a total train wreck!

But train wrecks always make the front page.

Review:

I have to say, when I read this I didn’t realise it was inspired by a true story, and that makes me a little more sympathetic to it. I have since done some research into the events that inspired it and the book itself, as it seems there’s been some controversy around it due to its vulgar language/sexualised imagery. There is a lot of bad language and sexual references, which didn’t really bother me too much, as I think that kind of thing does have a place in YA literature, but I understand that’s not everybody’s cup of tea.

I had a few problems with this book, one of them being the age of the characters. To me, they read as fairly old teenagers, around the 17/18 mark. From what I’ve gathered though, I think they are actually Grade 8, which is around the 14 year old mark. This just doesn’t feel right when the main character, Jude, is getting drunk/taking drugs frequently and his best friend is having constant sex and abortions. I’ve been a teenager, I know that kind of thing can happen, but I didn’t know anyone doing that when we were 14…

I also found the writing style generally distracting/difficult to read. Jude as a character was difficult to relate to: he read just like a character rather than an actual person, and I was constantly aware that I was reading a book, if that makes sense. The constant metaphor of Jude’s life being a movie got very distracting and I just didn’t enjoy the style at all.

I really wanted to enjoy this book but it just wasn’t for me. I can see why others might enjoy it though, and it is a pretty powerful read with a shock ending, especially if you don’t know the real life events it’s based on. The bullying of anyone based on their sexuality or the way they dress is never acceptable and shouldn’t lead to such tragic consequences, but for me there are better books that deal with the subject.

3