Everyone wants to be someone.
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.
This felt like a mix between 90210 and Pretty Little Liars, two of my favourite TV shows! It had a fun sort of beach and guilty pleasure kinda feel, and it was a fun read. Nevertheless, I did have some issues with it.
Unrivalled begins with the main mystery of the story – the disappearance of Madison Brooks. It then backtracks to a month earlier where we first meet our main characters. The story is told in third person from multiple perspectives, mostly from our main characters.
Layla dreams of being a reporter but finds herself running a celeb gossip blog called Beautiful Idols. She is hoping to make enough money from ad revenue on her blog and attend journalism school in New York. I found Layla likeable but meh at the same time, there was nothing about her that got me really excited.
Tommy moved from a small town in Oklahoma in hopes of becoming a musician and impressing the father who doesn’t know he even exists. My favourite parts were when Tommy would get angry, or the interaction between him and his dad. I felt like I was getting to know him more from these tiny elements of his story.
Aster’s tired of hearing ‘no’ from all the auditions she attends. Her parents have different expectations including university and marrying a Persian boy of their choosing. I flat out hated her character. It was just annoying to read from her POV.
Layla, Tommy, and Aster all have their reasons for wanting to compete in Ira Redman’s Unrivalled Nightlife competition. They have a chance to promote one of Ira’s clubs in Hollywood with plenty of cash incentives as well as a huge cash prize for the winner. The competition based on how successful your club night is – more points are given if they manage to get a-list celebrities to their clubs. This leads to why Madison Brooks is involved in the story as she is worth the most points.
Madison is Hollywood’s it girl. With a past full of secrets, she came to LA and made it her bitch. I wish this novel went further into her past, but I’m sure the rest of the books will go deeper into this. I found her the most interesting character of all and I wish there was more about her in this book.
I found the story slightly slow, it only started getting good about 60% in which is probably why I gave it a low rating. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it – I just wish things had been more eventful in the beginning. I’m hoping the sequel will fill those expectations. I feel like this one was just setting up things for what’s to come in the series.
I found that the characters have a very similar voice, and so the chapters were kinda confusing at points. There’s also a lack of character development but I’m guessing its because its only the first instalment in the series.
If you’re up for a summery fun read then I definitely recommend this book! I’m looking forward to reading the sequel and finding out what happens next, the ending was such a cliffhanger!