Saturday, October 25, 2008
LOATHING LOLA By William Kostakis
Sydney, Pan Macmillan, 2008.
I didn’t get this book for reviewing. I bought it after hearing the author speak and, having read it, decided that it was worth a review. Quite apart from the fact that he’s a male writing about a teenage girl - something unusual - he’s a teenager himself, still living at home, telling his audience about playing jokes on his sister. I believe this young writer is going to go far in the world of YA fiction.
His heroine, Courtney Marlow, is an earnest, nerdy girl who wants to save the world and thinks her chance has arrived when she scores the chance to play the lead role in a TV reality show, Real Teens, in which a camera crew will follow her around at school and home and, it seems, build her up into a star. Courtney decides this is the perfect opportunity to be a good role model for teens watching the show and raise money for charity at the same time. Unfortunately, the show’s producers have different ideas. Very different ideas – and they don’t care who they hurt in carrying them out.
And who is the “phantom texter” who is sending her text message warnings about what to expect from them– warnings she finds are all too accurate? Then again, there are plenty of other things to worry about. Her divorced father hasn’t been keeping up payments for her outrageously expensive private school – one reason she took on the show with its large advance. His dippy second wife – the Lola of the title – wants fame and fortune of her own. Just how much is she prepared to do to get it? And can Courtney count on her best friend Katie, who also wants a share of the limelight?
The novel is deliciously over-the-top, very funny, though with a serious underlying theme. It has a host of outrageous characters and situations, but in the end, what counts is friendship and family and not having to destroy your integrity for money.
If William Kostakis is writing this well now, I look forward to seeing what else he can do.