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Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon

Fake Plastic Girl

by Zara Lisbon

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152993,513 (3.17)None
Celebrity-studded parties that last long into the night. Camera flashes and designer clothes. And a body found floating in the Venice Beach canals. But let?s start at the beginning. Justine Childs is your average teenage girl, until the day ex-child-star Eva Kate Kelly moves in across the way. Eva Kate is gorgeous, seductive, and eager to invite Justine into her glittery world. Their relationship intensifies quickly, but there is a lot they aren't telling each other, and in the midst of the whirlwind, a girl lies dead. Who killed Eva Kate? Justine swears her innocence?and she?d like you to hear her side of the story.… (more)
2019 (2) ADL19 (2) celebrity (1) friendship (1) high school (1) Hollywood (1) isbn (1) lgbt (1) murder (1) mystery (1) to-read (4) Venice (1)



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Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Good
Recommended: Maybe
Level: High School

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but it was by no means the best or most well-written book I've ever read. This struck me as being one of those "guilty pleasure" reads, one I know is probably not thought-provoking or deep in any way, but is immensely entertaining and fun to read. It's a murder mystery that focuses very little on the actual murder, choosing instead to take a peek at the dark underbelly of Hollywood and the "fake" stars that inhabit it. It was an extremely quick and fast-paced read, but it's not one of my favorites.

Fake Plastic Girl opens with a bit of dramatic news. Eva-Kate Kelly, a former child star with a penchant for trouble, shows up dead in the river one day, and her recently acquired best friend Justine Childs finds herself under heavy suspicion. Wanting to clear her name, Justine begins writing the account of how the two met, hoping to prove her innocence in the star's death. Justine, who has lived a completely mundane life up until now, meets Eva-Kate by chance one day when the starlet moves in next door to her. The two form a nearly instant friendship, and Eva-Kate introduces the world of parties, drugs, and under-age drinking to her new companion. Caught up in the whirlwind that is Eva-Kate Kelly, Justine begins to leave her old life behind, falling headfirst into a life that seems glamorous on the surface, but hides dark secrets underneath. At the end of it all, Eva-Kate winds up dead, and it's up to Justine to tell the other side of the story.

After reading the first chapter, I was honestly expecting this to be a murder mystery like Jennifer Brown's Shade Me, a book I absolutely adored. I was expecting to delve headfirst into a murder mystery where the main character was desperately trying to find the real killer to clear her name. As a fan of true crime, I would've loved a mystery, but what I got instead was still very enjoyable and made for a quick read. While there is an element of mystery to the character of Eva-Kate (we never really know her motivations or reasoning for anything she does), the story focuses more on the friendship (and later romance) between Eva-Kate and Justine. In their own ways, Justine and Eva-Kate are both lost souls trying to find their place in the world, and they have an instant connection and chemistry because of it. Eva-Kate's ex accuses her of being fake and replacing her friends with whatever new, shiny toy that comes along, but Justine sees through this to a vulnerable girl who lacks confidence and can't see her own value. Justine, on the other hand, isn't quite sure what she wants, but longs to be seen, feeling invisible in her small and lackluster world.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the friendship between the two girls. I enjoyed their romance as well, though it sometimes felt a little forced and un-earned. I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but it sometimes felt as if Eva-Kate and Justine were given a romantic plot to be edgy and relevant in 2019, not because they had genuine romantic feelings for one another. While their friendship felt strong and natural, the sex and romance felt like something they were doing for shock value, or simply to just be trendy and controversial. Again, I'm no expert on the subject of LGBT representation, but I sometimes got the vibe that this representation wasn't very genuine or healthy.

Despite this complaint, I really enjoyed the fast-paced, suspenseful nature of this book. The opening chapter was able to really hook me, leaving me wanting to hear Justine's story to know what happened. How did Eva-Kate end up dead, and what was her involvement? I loved the idea that, though Justine seems trustworthy, she has the potential to be an unreliable narrator because she's trying to clear her name and tell "her side." In reality, her story could be entirely made up, giving the whole book a Great Gatsby feel. Another thing that makes it feel like Gatsby is the almost instant obsession Justine feels for Eva-Kate, wanting desperately to be in her good graces and seeing the good in her even when those around her do not. This book felt very much like a teen version of the classic American novel, with all of the shadiness of Hollywood included.

While I really wanted more of the murder mystery, I understand that this is only the first book in the series, with a sequel coming out next year. This laid what I felt was a very nice foundation for the second book, leaving the reader with a cliffhanger as he or she wonders what actually happened to Eva-Kate. Though the novel hints at a few enemies she might've had (Josie, Rob, and her sister in particular), we never get the sense that there's an obvious culprit for her murder. In fact, I almost forgot that this was a murder mystery halfway through, as the novel focuses much more on what happened before the murder than it does the aftermath. Much like the movie Moulin Rouge, I almost forgot what terrible thing was going to happen at the end because I was so absorbed in the story. Many minor characters are introduced who might have something to do with the murder, and I get the sense that I might not have been paying enough attention to potential clues during those scenes because I was so absorbed.

Again, though I would've liked for the plot to focus more on the murder itself, I'm intrigued enough by what could be added in book two to give it a shot when it comes out next year. The whole story gave me a serious film noir vibe, revealing the seedy underbelly of fame and peeling back the curtain on Hollywood drama and dark, dirty secrets. Justine as a character shows what happens when someone who is thirsty for fame gets a sudden taste for it, while Eva-Kate shows the consequences of finding fame and fortune at a young age, before you're able to handle or process it. The book tackles quite a few issues (drug use, under-age drinking, mental illness, etc.) that are prevalent among teens, both famous and otherwise, and while it's not necessarily the most responsible of portrayals (nobody faces any serious consequences for drinking under-age or doing drugs), it is a large dose of reality.

I loved that it mixed real world celebrities with fake ones, and took shots at tabloids like TMZ and Perez Hilton, almost making fun of the slimy way in which they obtain their news. There's something really clever hiding underneath this seemingly superficial book, and while it wasn't my favorite, I still enjoyed it enough to want to keep reading more. I look forward to seeing what Lisbon does with the murder mystery, and I almost hope that we get a different perspective in book two, as I'd like to see how much of an unreliable narrator Justine actually is. I would recommend this book to reluctant readers and fans of realistic fiction, as it's fast-paced and fairly easy to get into and follow. Fans of mystery might be a bit disappointed, as it really doesn't focus on the mystery, but I have a feeling this book is a slow build leading to a pretty satisfying "whodunnit" story. I look forward to seeing what Zara Lisbon writes in the future, and I hope to see her style evolve with future books. ( )
  SWONroyal | Jul 14, 2019 |
Take care, don't read this book if you dislike Taylor Swift. Fake Plastic Girl seemed really interesting based on the synopsis, but it wasn't what I expected. There's a good story buried under Taylor Swift references, cliches and unnecessary jumble. It lost me in all of this, and I just couldn't make myself like it. I disliked the references so much it just became white noise. I didn't enjoy this book, unfortunately. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  JypsyLynn | Mar 27, 2019 |
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