14 August 2009

Book Review: Star Struck by Anne-Marie O'Connor

Catherine Reilly still lives at home with her sisters and her father, for whom she is the carer. She's single and not particularly outgoing, which is why it is a complete shock for her family when Catherine applies to be on the global singing competition "Star Maker".

She auditions and amazingly makes it through - but Catherine really doesn't have a clue of the madness that awaits her as she carries on in the competition. Richard Forster, the worlds music mogul, has got his eye not only on Catherine but a few others in the competition too. Is it all going to be too much for the shy girl from Ireland or will she be able to make all her dreams come true and become a true star?

As soon as I heard about this book, I was desperate to read it. I love all the music reality shows such as X Factor, every year I tell myself not to watch it but I always keep coming back for me and I'm on the edge of my seat on the finale night wondering who is going to win! This book takes the format of X Factor, with the audition stages and beyond, judges and mad auditionees too. I wondered how original the book would be if its based on such an enormous production that everyone knows inside-out, so I was intrigued to find out. Also, this book is author Anne-Marie O'Connor's 3rd book (1st with Ebury but 3rd overall) so I was hoping it was going to be one that would impress me.

The book begins before Catherine goes into the audition process, so we get to know a little bit about her in her real life and her family too. There are 3 sisters and a dad that play vital roles in the book, and luckily for us they are great characters. Mick, Catherine's dad is awful but perfect for the story even though I could see the final twist coming a mile off because of the way it was written. The 3 sisters; Jo, Claire and Marie are all very different, but Jo was my favourite by far, she was very feisty and put a little something into the book that would have been missing without her.

Our leading lady Catherine was lovely, although you could see how the book was going to pan out because of the way she was. I very much liked her, she was very realistic and modelled on the "Leona" sort of character I would imagine. You can believe that she is a real person, although not necessarily someone suited to the competition. Alex was another character that I really liked, and the pair of them were well written and nice people, which is a complete antithesis of most of the other characters! I loved the "Mr Nasty" character of Richard Forster who couldn't have been anyone other than Simon Cowell, although the inclusion of a wife, Cherie, was quite a good twist.

O'Connor's writing style is very easy to read, and I found myself ploughing through the book without even realising it. It follows the format of X Factor quite rigidly so there wasn't all that much imagination used there but it didn't really matter because funnily enough, it wasn't all about the competitions. The book chooses to focus a lot on Catherine's family, and the story frequently goes back to Ireland and the Reilly family, which kept the narrative fresh and interesting. One thing that really bugged me however was a few typos of famous names that really should have been picked up before the book went to print, and it did annoy me a tad.

Overall, this is a very good, light-hearted summer read that follows a very popular theme at the moment. Reality TV is all around us whether you like it or not, and this book jumps on the bandwagon of this but it has its own little twists along the way to keep the reader interested. I liked all the characters, the direction of the book and the ending wasn't what I expected which was also pretty good! I read it very quickly without realising it so perhaps it wasn't all that deep or detailed, but it was very good reading. I liked the writing style and the story and I look forward to reading more books from author.

Thank you to the publishers Ebury Press for sending us a copy to review.

Rated: 4/5

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