16 March 2012
REVIEW: SHOOTING STARS
Series: No, Standalone
US Publisher: Walker
US Release date: February 2012
Kindly given by the author for an honest review
Josephine Foster is only 16, but already she is following in her father's footsteps as a Los Angeles paparazzo. With her petite height and youthful looks, she is able to sneak into places most paps can't reach, making her a valuable commodity to magazine editors looking for exclusive snaps of celebs. Which is why the tenacious editor Melissa has offered Jo a lot of money to go undercover in a retreat to snap famous young celebrity Ned Harnett. But as Jo learns more about the young people at the retreat and is forced to share her own deepest secrets, can she go through with it? Will she follow her father or will she forge her own path in photography?
For me, young paparazzo ZoJo was the star of the book; she was funny, witty, blunt and always wanted to get straight to the point. I admired her determination and direct approach, which didn't come across as abrupt or pushy but was more humorous and honest. In the retreat though, everyone has to share their problems and issues, and I found it interesting that Jo needed to fake a reason for being at the retreat despite having some real issues hidden away under her bravado. I liked seeing the real Jo as she develops through the book, but I'm glad she kept her unique personality and wit.
When I first started reading I was a little sceptical because of my wariness around the paparazzi. I wasn't sure if I could ever like a pap. But Jo's own internal monologue looked at the different sides to the story, from celebrities seeking out the limelight in the early stages of their career before shunning it as they become famous. She also made a great point that the need for celeb pics is driven by the public who buy celeb magazines and not necessarily driven by the paparazzi who are doing a job, albeit a slightly unscrupulous one. Jo did win me around quite quickly showing me that not all paps are underhand and evil, and I think it was down to her witty personality and relationship with the caring pap Mannie. It is certainly a different and interesting viewpoint and lifestyle than other YA books look at, and one that is possibly misunderstand.
There were lots of questions hanging in the air and plot twists that kept me reading on; I wanted to see inside Ned's celeb lifestyle and what he was like as a real person in the retreat - what was his reason for being there? What kind of issues would he have to deal with as a superstar? I liked the fact that there were 'normal' people in the retreat, with different problems and family situations - it gave the story a lot more depth and reality to it and subtly addressed mental health, family life, privacy, and trust issues. Although the second half of the book slowed a little with Jo struggling how to deal with her moral dilemma, the end is certainly an interesting resolution to the problem.
What surprised me about the story was how driven Jo was around money. I did think it was a real fixation for her and it made her seem extremely money obsessed - yes, I worked to save my own money, but I would never dare to ask my parents for $50,000 let alone $50! The fact that she needed it to fund her studies made the money issue more understandable, and that she found a much more moral way to solve her dilemma was a big plus point.
Without giving any spoilers, I think Ned definitely deserved more credit and praise. As Jo gets to know him in the retreat we find out some juicy, interesting facts about the smouldering young star, but also how much he sacrifices for family. Selfless, handsome and with a forthright personality to match Jo's, I can see why Jo fell for him. The fact that she has to take undercover pics of him, only adds to the drama!
Rushby's debut Shooting Stars is a fab light read with some serious undertones, subtle messages about media and morals, lots of wit, and a winning main character.