Everyone wants to be someone.
Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . .
And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.
Description taken from Goodreads.
If you didn’t like Michelle Madow’s The Secret Diamond Sisters, I’m going to loop this series into that same category. Maybe I just don’t like Hollywood stories, but Unrivaled was seriously petty. If you’re looking for a suspense/thriller, please just go for a suspense/thriller. Or, if you want the Hollywood-esque feel, I’ve heard people say this is good for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. Go try those, but don’t reach for Unrivaled.
Alyson Noël’s writing isn’t bad. It’s easy to follow, and she perfectly drags you into the Hollywood scene. It’s easy to fall into everything, and the world sets up very quickly. From the get go, you know what the game plan is.
But it should be noted that the mystery/suspense/thriller aspects of this don’t start until the book is almost over. By then, the book had already lost me.
Back to the beginning, which I loved, Noël introduces all of the main characters in a way that is memorable for each of them. Even though I came to hate everyone except Tommy, they each showed their cutthroat sides, especially Layla. Let’s get one thing straight, YA: there’s a difference between sticking up for yourself and being a complete jerk.
Layla is on the wrong side of that difference. Tommy crushes on her because she’s all out there and everything, but the reality is that Layla is just rude. Even Aster, who is known in the book to be condescending and ambitious, is more honest than her.
There’s also a decent amount of cheating in Unrivaled, and that’s not at all my cup of tea.
All in all, pacing was good, and the first half of the plot was pretty great, but things went really downhill when the plot became repetitive. It was less of a psychological game and more of a petty roundabout.
If you don’t usually read books like this, save your time and don’t read it. Alyson Noël has written better works, namely The Immortals and Riley Bloom, and there are better books to be read. If you’re not so much into the whole drama scene but you do enjoy a good novel about Hollywood, I would point you toward Jen Calonita’s Secrets of My Hollywood Life series.1.5 stars.