unrivaled-225What will you do for fame or goal fulfillment?  Presenting such a question may cause readers to reflect on the formula for success: hard work plus “discipline, control, and steely determination” (3).  But ambition can derail common sense, and we are all buffeted by the whims of circumstances that can cause us to react in unforeseen ways.

Alyson Noël explores this “how far will you go” question in Unrivaled: A Beautiful Idols Novel released in MayThe main player in this novel isn’t an adolescent but an adult named Ira Redman, the überconnected night club czar of Los Angeles, California, and the sperm donor/father of Tommy Phillips.  Always scheming and hoping to enlarge his empire, Ira manipulates people and treats them like puppets, where he is the puppet master “yanking the strings in his twisted theater” (298).

In his current scheme, Ira designs a competition, exploiting vulnerable 18-21 year old youthful visionaries fueled on fantasies of fame and fortune.  Promising the winner an enormous cash prize, he pits a dozen young adults against one another in a contest promoting the hottest night clubs in LA.  The key players promoting these hedonistic havens are Aster Amirpour, Layla Harrison, and Tommy Phillips.  Although the three are connected by the lure of the competition, they are individually motivated by their passion to fulfill a dream: actress, journalist, and musician.

LA operates on a frequency where beauty and the body are commodities, where many have adopted the wealthy, privileged, and well-tended look, and where agents are campaigning to continue the charades.  In order to win, the three young adults will have to tune in or get lost in the static where celebrities like Madison Brooks and Ryan Hawthorne flirt, fake, and tempt fate.  After all, a star that flames can just as easily burn out.

As the contest plays out and dark sides emerge, human lives get caught in the cross fire, collateral damage in Ira’s game.  Who will win and at what cost?

Like a television serial, the novel ends at a point of action that leaves the reader anticipating the next episode.

  • Posted by Donna


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