Saturday, June 15, 2013

Novel Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: HarperCollins/Teen
Publish Date: June 4th, 2013
Spoilers?: Minor/No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.

Something Specific:

  •  "Can I just say no? That seems impossible. Or maybe it's one of those things that only seems impossible because you've never questioned it." (ARC)
  • "'Practice makes better.'" (ARC) I like this more than 'practice makes perfect', because it's more realistic, and people shouldn't be trying to hold onto the standard of perfect, since it doesn't exist. It sounds awkward, since I'm so used to the perfect one, but I like it much more.
  • "'It seems like she's doing okay. Finding her niche online, and all that.' 'But that's online,' I say. 'It's not real. Or at least, not the same real.'" (ARC) I like her differentiating that it's not the same real. Because I totally agree with that--online is a form of real life, but it's not the same as actual face-to-face interaction.

The Cover:

I really like the cover of this book. It's not overly embarrassing, it's pretty, and it fits the contents of the book. The model had similarities with Justine, the font is nice, and the colors are pretty. And the way she's set, staring at the camera, reflects the talking-to-a-camera aspect of the documentary. Overall, I rather like this one.

When I saw this at the book store, a while before the release date, I wasn’t sure if I wanted it, mainly because of what I’d thought of Castle’s first book, The Beginning of After. But it sounded good, as I’m usually attracted to books with media-related themes. So I decided to give her another chance, see if I liked this one more. And I am really glad that I decided to get it, because I was pleasantly surprised with this book.
Justine, one of five kids who were chosen to be in this documentary when she was six, a new movie to be made every five years, is now sixteen, and dreading being in the next movie. Most of the five weren’t friends to start with, and most of them aren’t friends now, for differing reasons. Justine is the feisty one, the one who supposedly always had a comeback to make people laugh, only now she doesn’t know who she is anymore. Rory is autistic, and sweet, but rather left out when it comes to the five. Felix is into music, but he’s never gotten very much attention, and is only friends with Justine. Nate used to be the loner that was bullied, but now he’s popular. And Keira’s mother left her and her father alone, and she left but now is back, and is only close with Nate. And now they’re all in the new movie together, when most of them don’t even want to be in the same room together.
I liked Justine, and I liked being in her head, even if I’d have liked being in several of the other characters’ heads as well (particularly Nate's and Rory's). Justine is very lost, is friends with Felix but doesn’t really feel close with anyone. Everyone liked her from the first two movies, but she doesn’t understand why. She has no idea what she’s doing with her life, and I liked how much she grew by the end of the book.
I liked Rory, and felt a bit bad for her, and maybe would have liked to have gotten to know her better. She seemed to be growing by the end of the book, and I would have liked to see more of that. Keira was alright, and her storyline was interesting. I liked Felix, and felt bad for his circumstances—I rather wanted to hug him, honestly. And hope that things get even better in the future for him. And I liked Nate—I was a bit unsure of him for a lot of the novel, but I did like him by the end.
The story is really slow going, focusing a lot on Justine and how the five of them don’t want to be around each other and yet are being pushed to hang out for the movie. I liked where the plot went, though; it went in a somewhat surprising direction, and I liked that a lot. Plus, where, in Castle’s first book, it had a hard time keeping my attention, this one was really easy to keep reading. I actually finished the book a lot faster than I’d expected to. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book, by how good it was and how easy it was to read.
The romance is a very small part of the book, very minuscule. For a while, I wasn’t even sure if a romance was going to show up, but I was really happy with how it turned out. That plot was kept really subtle, which works because of how not-close everyone was, and with the fact that they all had more important things to deal with.
I really enjoyed this book—quite a lot. And now I’m sure that I will be picking up whatever Castle releases next.

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