Friday, May 18, 2018

All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor

All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor
Release Date - May 15,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
A secret. A famous author. A group of teen fans clamoring to be in her inner circle. The truth between fiction and reality become blurred in Lygia Day Penaflor's captivating, well written, and addicting novel.

This novel is compulsively readable. It's almost impossible to put down. The different narration formats used also make for a quick, easily digestible read  that many will finish in a sitting. It's the novel equivalent of a CW show - splashy, filled with a lot of drama and beautiful people. It also has an amazing hook and the author uses this to great impact. The story is told via transcripts, interviews, articles, and passages from a novel. It all comes together to create a book whose writing alone is worthy of praise.

This novel's tension really comes down to differing perspectives. It's multiple characters giving their account of events and how their personalities and biases impact how they see those events. These differing recollections allow the reader a much broader scope of the story. It allows the reader to sift through each of the accounts and draw their own conclusions. These characters are not deliberately misleading and that makes the story all the more fascinating.

All of the characters are fascinating in their own way. I, however, found the character of Fatima Ro to be the most fascinating out of the group. She is also one of the main characters who never give their own account of the story. She is shown to the reader through the lens of other characters. Her motives are at the crux of this novel. The why behind her actions is always on the reader's minds. I found how she used he art to 'rewrite' things in her life interesting and wish we could have explored her more. She's this larger than life figure whose made even more mythical thanks to the media circus that surrounds her in this book.

Where the book falters a little, at least for me, was the ending. The build up to the big reveal felt anticlimactic because it is evident early on what exactly the situation was. It was a case of the set up being more captivating than the reveal and the story just didn't come together as fully as I felt it was going to in the beginning. Something was missing to bring it all together and that especially became evident for me as I neared the ending of the story.

This is a book that will make for some pretty deep discussions. The characters of both Jonah and Fatima are enough to provide book club fodder all on their own, but the novel also dives into other elements that are worthy of discussion. The idea of trust and if it was broken in this particular case is certainly ripe for discussion, but so is the entire notion of fan culture and frenzy that surrounds it. It would be a good pick for anyone wanting to ignite a healthy debate at their next book club.

All Of This Is True will definitely be devoured by certain people. It is tailor made to appeal to the hardcore book lovers who dream about getting close to one of their favourite authors. It certainly boasts a tantalizing premise and has solid writing behind it, but it didn't quite come together for me the way I had hoped. I enjoyed my time reading it but wanted just a little bit more of a payoff to this incredibly set up premise. 

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