Monday, June 16, 2014

The Paparazzi Project - Kristina Springer

Livvie Peterson thought taking Interpersonal Communications her junior year would be an easy A. But when the first assignment is given, her world flips upside down. Here’s the deal: the class is assigned a six-week project and is split into three groups— Paparazzi, Tabloid, and Celebrities. The Paparazzi follow around the Celebrities taking pictures and grabbing any kind of quotes they can. The Celebrities try to navigate being tailed on a daily basis. And the Tabloid receives all the information collected by the Paparazzi and decides what makes the weekly summary report. Sounds harmless…and it’s all just pretend anyway, right? 
Livvie Peterson has just been assigned a project - to be a part of the paparazzi.  For school, of course.  Her junior year Interpersonal Communications class's first assignment is to recreate the relationship between celebrities, paparazzi, and the tabloids.  So she follows around the selected celebrities, taking pictures, and sending them to her tabloid contact, the cute Chas, to spin several articles a week, just like regular tabloids.  It starts off innocently enough, but exactly how much can someone take their personal life being broadcasted to the school?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Don't get me wrong, I'm usually a fan of the YA genre, but this was definitely more well catered for a younger audience.  It was enjoyable enough and had a pretty important message to send, but I think a preteen or thirteen/fourteen year old would enjoy the book much more.
The writing is juvenile.  It is in first person, and the person in question is a junior in high school (though as far as I can remember, the last time I might have acted anything like any of the characters in the story would have been freshman year at the latest), so it fits with the narrator's voice, but it can get a bit annoying at times.  Sometimes I liked Livvie.  Sometimes I didn't.  She struck me as hypocritical most of the time, as the first part of the book is spent with her tiring of her best friend's drama and talking about how she hates drama, then spends the rest of the book (eagerly) searching for any scandal she can find and effectively creates as much drama as she possibly can.  Though this hypocrisy is addressed in part, it is often left for the reader to ponder over.
Of course, since this is a high school story, a large part of the subplot is the romance between Livvie and her 'tabloid contact' Chas, and the drama between her best friend, Tessa, and her cheating boyfriend, Mike.  Livvie doesn't shut up about how cute, or hot, or smart, or kind, Chas is.  I didn't care for Chas that much, frankly.  I stopped caring when he said it was refreshing that she didn't gossip much.  This is in part because it is completely false as she spends the entire novel creating gossip with him, but mostly it is because I'm very tired of boys in real life using the 'you're not like other girls' line to compliment them, as it of course reinforces the thought that girls are generally vapid and catty, and in order to compliment a girl you must demean other girls.
Of course, I can't really say that any of these girls, except maybe Talia, or Emma perhaps, even imitate the behaviors of normal girls, as most of them are catty, gossipy, even at times hysterical.  Which brings me to Tessa, Livvie's best friend.  The story begins with Tessa discovering that her boyfriend has been cheating on her.  While I'm glad that this story does not quickly delve into 'getting him back' and turning into her against the mystery girl, the story takes a good amount of time condemning the girl for going after Mike, when it's not even extremely clear if 1) she even knows that Tessa and Mike are dating or 2) if it was her who went after Mike or if Mike was the one who started the affair.
And, as usual, the whiteness of the entire cast (I don't think there was a single person in the book who wasn't white, actually) and the heteronormativity of the story failed to make the story stand out in any sort of way to me.
So, a 3 out of 5 stars.  It was good, fun, and the overall message was worth hearing, but overall bland, typical, and trite.

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