Friday, September 26, 2014

[Review] Reality Boy by A.S. King

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 22/10/2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 353
Source: Bought
Genre: YA (14+) - Contemporary

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

My thoughts

I am writing this review 1.5 months after I've finished it. Yep, it's another of those kinds of books, I kind of have no idea what I thought of it. But let me start off by saying that I love A.S. King. She's an extraordinary YA writer who deserves every single bit of recognition and acclaim she has received so far. If this weren't written by a beloved author that I trust and adore I probably would never have given this book a second look, it just didn't sound like my kind of read. And it wasn't, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the book - it's just my least favourite of hers so far.

Seventeen-year-old Gerald Faust's very abnormal childhood follows him -- growing up is hard enough, but when you're "The Crapper" it's near impossible. So Gerald has anger issues. His family is in shambles, the kids from school won't leave him alone... his only solace is Register #1 girl. But when they get close, Gerald learns that she's got problems of her own. And what about the future?

Reality Boy is a very real portrayal of the negative impact of reality TV shows. King makes a very bold statement and addresses this issue in a thought-provoking way that readers can understand and relate to. You don't really consider how it affects the people that appear in reality TV show afterwards. They are trivialised and made into icons without being considered as people with real lives and personalities and thoughts and feelings.

I think that there is a little bit of Gerald in each and every one of us. Who hasn't ever felt rejected? Or felt not good? Who hasn't ever felt out of control or judged for something that we have/had no control over? Who has ever wanted a fresh start or an escape from it all? Gerald is such a sympathetic character. It's important that this story was told from his perspective. Every character in the book had their own view of him: the Crapper, the difficult child, the loser brother. So it's important that he gets to tell us about his life and where he's coming from and why he's gotten to this point in his life. King weaves us in and out of the Network Nanny (the reality TV show) episodes to consolidate just how bad it was for him.

I liked Register #1 Girl. I like that she's made out to be a perfect girl with a perfect life as beautiful as she is: a beacon of hope, in Gerald's eyes, but once you get to know her more you see the real girl behind the mask and find that she's just as broken and messed up as Gerald is. Their story is just awesome. It actually reminds me of Silver Linings Playbook. I really liked the development of their relationship. It was very sweet. :) The variations in their interactions with one another was very interesting to follow. I thought they had good chemistry. I like that their faults come between them, and that they try to work through them. There's also something kind of poignant about their romance, though I can't really explain it.

In Reality Boy, Gerald creates this "happy place" for himself that he likes to call "Gersday". So when things got really bad he would imagine the world he would like to live in, where his horrible sister would move out and never come back again, where the bullies at school would get what's coming to them, and so on. I liked the development of Gersday, how the appearance and changes to his Gersday reflected his current state of mind.

I love the exploration of his family - learning of them sheds light on why Gerald is how he is now. We're meant to despise Tasha, his overly sex-crazed eldest sister, and I did. I still don't understand her, I guess we're not meant to. Why did she have to be so horrible? Was she as much of a victim of Network Nanny as Gerald was?

So while Reality Boy isn't my favourite of A.S. King's writing it doesn't mean I didn't like it. I just don't exactly fit into the "right" audience on this one, but I was still able to appreciate what she did with the story and how she developed her characters. The negative impact of reality TV is brought to life in this book in an entertaining, relatable and sensitive manner, and the writing is up to stratch.


First line: I'm the kid you saw on TV.

Favourite quotes:

"I've eaten enough shit sandwiches, thank you. (213)


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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