Tuesday 22 May 2012

YA REVIEW - 'Shooting Stars', Allison Rushby (Walker & Company, 2012)

Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Now I have this little thing that stops me from completely, one hundred percent, enjoying a heck of a lot of books that I pick up. No matter how lovely, astonishing, heart-breaking or mind-blowing they are, if they have even a slightly dodgy premise, then I just can't let THE FEELINGS completely takeover. This is especially the case with contemporary YA - I have to buy into it to fully invest in it, if you get what my drift.

Shooting StarsSo, when I read the synopsis for Shooting Stars, my sceptical muscle began to flex. Teenage paparazzo? Really? REALLY? I thought, no matter how skillful the plot and the writing, that I was going to have a few problems with this one.

Well, I'm pleased to say that, thanks to a rather wonderful main character, I got over that particular hurdle pretty quickly. In fact their wasn't really a hurdle to get over. So I was running with it all the way. (sorry). I really loved little Zo Jo. As well as wrongly assuming she was not going to cut the mustard in terms of a convincing character, I also assumed she would be intensely annoying. I guess I should stop making assumptions (it makes an ass out of...ok, I'll stop now). She had a lovely wisecracking, cynical edge, balanced with a sweet nature and she really worked. I am now very sure the streets of LA are teeming with tiny little wheeling and dealing paparazzi, god love 'em.

Her voice was brilliant. It reminded me of an old fashioned gumshoe detective trying to crack a case wide open - 

There wasn't a code of conduct and some people liked to play rough. Especially the full-timers; they hated the part-timers who liked to pap outside of their day jobs, even if their day job was school. I was new, I was female and I was a kid. Let's just say no one was splitting their lunch-box Twinkie with me.

There was a nice little dollop of romance too. My only complaint would be that I would have preferred a little more in terms of sizzle - there wasn't quite enough kissing for my liking, but the lip-locking that did take place was more than satisfactory.

 A couple of surprises here - the first I won't mention, because, well, it's a surprise and shall remain so. The second surprise won't get me shot for spoiler-spilling (I hope) - the story takes an unexpected serious turn and starts to explore some deeper issues that you wouldn't necessarily expect from a book with such a light-hearted tone. I welcome angst with open arms on most occasions, and this  didn't change here. I just felt that once Jo's big reveal had been revealed, everything was a bit rushed after. I would have maybe liked to see more time at the retreat and just a little more more exploration of Jo's issues. Although, saying that, the ending does provide the reader and the character with a satisfactory sort of closure.

I just have to mention, how brilliantly the way her relationship with her father was written. A strong example of hands-off parenting, if ever there was one, but there was still a very strong impression of a loving relationship and mutual respect. Writing from my own perspective, this is a very convincing father-child dynamic and was very well done.

I really enjoyed Shooting Stars - a light-hearted, romantic read with surprising hidden depths. And a magnificent main character. And I now know I have a real problem spelling paparazzo (that just took me three attempts).

I was sent this copy for review by the author


  1. Apologies - Blogger has decided to put links in random words in this review. Couldn't work out how to fix it. *shakes fist at Blogger*

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Anna! A while back I was reading negative reviews which bummed me out because I want to read this but now you really enjoyed it and I'm hoping I will too. I like when a fluffy book takes a more serious turn, especially when it's unexpected!

  3. I think you will like it - it's light-hearted, yes, but the writing is great :)

  4. I'm glad the MC isn't annoying--that's always such a turn off. And I love it when there are strong parent-child relationships in books! I'm definitely excited to read this one! Great review!
    Book Light Graveyard