Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Blacklist by Alyson Noel

Blacklist by Alyson Noel
Release Date - April 4, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  448 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In the second book of the suspenseful Unrivaled trilogy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noel, Layla, Aster and Tommy have to unearth Hollywood it-girl Madison Brooks’ secrets before one of them takes the fall for her disappearance and murder.

Layla Harrison has finally found herself in the middle of a celebrity story worth reporting. Aster Amirpour’s name is in every tabloid—even if it isn’t the good kind of publicity she hoped for. Tommy Phillips is inches away from getting the girl of his dreams, which may be harder than scoring a VIP ticket to an Unrivaled nightclub.

But Layla, Aster and Tommy never imagined it would be because they’re entangled in the disappearance of Madison Brooks—a story that’s blinded the world like a starlet blinded by the flash of a paparazzi camera.
Now, Layla is receiving mysterious messages from an anonymous source, Aster’s looming murder trial is so huge even her parents’ lawyer can’t save her, Tommy is retracing his steps as the last person Madison saw alive, and Layla’s ex Mateo finds himself lured into the fold.
You can dig up dirt about celebrities that the tabloids miss if you search long enough. But when Layla, Aster, and Tommy team up with an unsuspecting insider to unearth the truth, they’ll find that some secrets are best kept in the grave. 
The Beautiful Idols series normally has everything I would want in a book. A cast of beautiful characters. A mystery at its core. A Hollywood setting. While all of this is found within this novel it, sadly, ended up just being an okay read for me.

This novel is pure escapism and offers up the kind of plot that is normally found in CW television shows and other sudsy offerings. I could easily see it as a television show with its edgy vibe, and mystery hook. This novel has another thing in common with those television shows - it has the potential of solely banking on that hook to keep people interested and not going deep enough into the story when it should. As a result of this,  it is a novel that is great fun while reading, but just as easily forgotten after you've finished.

This sequel is all about offering up more than the previous installment. More romantic entanglements, more drama, more danger. The plot points may not seem overly realistic, but this is meant to be over the top. It is meant to be heightened. The downside to this style of storytelling is that it can often lead to a feeling of disconnect. The characters have to draw you in and keep you attached if the story is not relatable, at least for me, and the characters do not do that for me. I don't feel connected to any of them even I am interested in a few of them. This style of writing is more plot driven than character driven and that often doesn't work for me.

I am still invested in the mystery surrounding Madison's disappearance and what really happened to her. After Aster's arrest in the first novel I was happy to see this particular plot point make progress in this sequel. It is the storyline that is keeping me coming back to this series and it is the most thought out element of the story in my opinion. I am hopeful that many of the side story arcs will eventually merge to become important to the larger story. It may prompt me to change my mind about the series overall if the end reveal is nuanced enough.

The characters are all classic teen show tropes. They are beautiful people doing questionable things who are put in outrageous situations. This means there is plenty of potential for romance. The romances are for the most part secondary to the main mystery. There is a potential love square happening which, in my opinion, has the potential to be the most interesting of the relationships that are being explored.

Perhaps my biggest concern is the fact that I don't feel the tension tightening. There isn't that sense of impending dread. I should feel like I cannot trust any of the characters and that anyone could be responsible for what happened to Madison and everything that followed. Sadly, I just don't feel that sense of urgency.

Fans of novels that are reminiscent of Pretty Little Liars will probably love this series. It is filled with high octane drama, and outlandish plot lines. I think this novel does what it is rather well, and those who appreciate that kind of novel are the target audience. I'll most like check out the third novel out of sheer curiosity but I am not has invested in the outcome of the series as I perhaps should be.

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