Forgotten Fridays is a monthly feature here where the four of us get together to read an older book and discuss it. There are sometimes spoilers, but we always try our best to avoid them.
Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
Series: Starstruck #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 12th, 2013
Genres: historical, young adult
Buy on Amazon
Every week they arrive in Los Angeles--beautiful and talented young hopefuls who dream of becoming stars. It's all Margaret Frobisher has ever wanted—and when she's discovered by a powerful agent, she can barely believe her luck. She's more than ready to escape her snobby private school and conservative Pasadena family for a chance to light up the silver screen.
The competition is fierce at Olympus Studios and Margaret—now Margo—is chasing her Hollywood dreams alongside girls like Gabby Preston, who at 16 is already a grizzled show-biz veteran caught between the studio and the ravenous ambition of her ruthless mother, and sultry Amanda Farraday, who seems to have it all--ambition, glamour . . . and dirty secrets. Missing from the pack is Diana Chesterfield, the beautiful actress who mysteriously disappeared, and there are whispers that Diana's boyfriend—Margo's new co-star—may have had something to do with it. Margo quickly learns that fame comes with a price, and that nothing is what it seems.
Set in Old Hollywood, Starstruck follows the lives of three teen girls as they live, love, and claw their way to the top in a world where being a star is all that matters.
Pixie: So, I was really not surprised by how much I enjoyed this month’s pick with the time period and the old Hollywood storyline.
Lyn: It was a very interesting pick. I don’t think I have ever read an old Hollywood YA book. Contemporary celebrity books, yeah, but the Golden Age cinema? Never! This was one of our more interesting picks!
Kara: I’m glad you both found it interesting. I don’t know why I picked this, it had just been sitting on my shelf for a while and I wanted to read it. I’m very picky about historicals, and this was one I thought I would like. And I did. The way I described this book to a couple of people asking about it was like “Gossip Girl set during 1930s Hollywood.” And I think that works, because drama, relationships, angst, intrigue. Did you guys end up liking it?
Pixie: I did really like it, mostly the descriptions and the character development with Margo as the story progressed, but there were some times when I found it a little slow going. I would find myself skimming large passages, just to get to Margo parts a lot more.
Kara: Ha. Really? I really enjoyed Margo’s POV and it was by far my favorite, but I loved reading about the other two girls too. Gabby was horrible and I basically wanted her to die, but I enjoyed reading about what Amanda did before she made it in Hollywood, and the sacrifices girls had to make. It was a tough time for women and though that was not a particularly easy part of the book to read, I still really enjoyed it. I loved the soap opera vibe going on too. I didn’t skim ANY of the book–it just was a really fast read for me. These days I find it hard to finish a book as quickly as I did this one. I wish I could find more like this one–books are so readable for me.
Lyn: IMO, Gabby’s biggest issue is that she didn’t have any characterization. There was no reasoning behind her motives. She was just a bully, and we never understood the “why” behind her actions. I know she had her eye on a man, but then, why go after Amanda? I wanted more from her, if it was jealousy, then I want to hear it in her thoughts. But Gabby was just tossed into the mix for antagonist reasons.
My favorite was Amanda. I loved her IDGAF personality, her backstory and her cool, collected head. She got really stupid with her heart, but it made her more real to me. It was her Achilles Heel, per se. It was really awesome how some of the older stars were stuck into the story, as well!
Pixie: Maybe I just connected more with Margo from the beginning because of the whole fight with her mother and father when she was first trying to tell them about her dreams of going to be an actress. *shrugs* I did like Amanda too! And I agree with both of you on the hatred toward Gabby.
Kara: I understood Gabby’s motivations. Yeah, it was jealousy, but it was also a cutthroat industry and her being the “Shirley Temple” type of girl in a sea of “Carole Lombards.” She just felt ugly and cute and she wanted to be beautiful. But yes, that got to be a bit one dimensional when she had no other personality. Though the pressure from her mother and her coach may have pushed her to be that way. It’s not an excuse but I do understand it somewhat. She was cracking. She didn’t yet understand that she was cracking, but she was.
That said, Margo’s POV was my favorite, and yeah, it’s pretty much why Pixie said it was. We got to grow up with Margo. We got to see her motivations, her horrible family, her stuck-up friends, etc. We were along for the journey and it felt more organic.
Sidenote: I think the next book features Amanda’s story more, and I guess the third (when it’s written) will be more about Gabby?
Lyn: Yeah, we did get to see Gabby falling apart. It just seemed that her voice wasn’t as rich and insightful as the other two POVs. I think, had there been more attention given to her, she could have been someone that you could have related to a bit more. In that day and age, celebrities would go out of their mind insane with the unrealistic expectations placed on them. I would have liked to see more of her spiral downward. It just seemed that the author went, “And here is the cute little bitch. There.”
Also, can I confess that I didn’t care for Dane at all? He came across as a complete tool. I never found myself attracted to him.
Kara: I wasn’t attracted to him, but I definitely did like him and got that old Hollywood vibe from him that pretty much set the tone of the book for me. *shrugs* What did you think about the love interest, Pixie? Did any of the relationships work for you?
Pixie: Well, I wasn’t too “keen” on Dane myself either so I have to sort of side with Lyn on that one, but I liked his interaction with Margo if that makes any sense. So I think in a way they worked even though I personally wasn’t attached to his character.
That said, and without giving spoilers, there’s a big twisty-twist at the end that involves him and a couple of the characters. Did it take you guys by surprise at all or did you see it coming?
Lyn: Dane lost me when he called Margo a “dimwit.” I thought it was just out of line and very cruel.
Man, that twist! No, I didn’t see it coming. I kinda figured the location, but not the huge reveal. I was kinda shocked and happy that the story went that way. It really helped to show how absolutely horrible the managers and the studios were to their stars. From what I can recall about old cinema (I had a friend that was huge into it), the directors, managers and studio owners treated those people inhumanely, and the stars really had no say about running their own lives. It shook me to the core when I read about arranged marriages and actors and actresses cracking under the pressure. Pure insanity.
Kara: Yes, if I recall correctly. it was Judy Garland’s studio that got her addicted to uppers and downers. They weren’t great to their actors, and I think that’s probably one of the reasons that agents were finally introduced. It gave the actors more rights and freedom from the studio. More control.
As for the twist, I saw parts of it coming. Like Lyn, I had the location down, but not the why or the what, if that makes sense. It was fantastic, really. So sad, but I love being caught by surprise and the author nailed that.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all the characters, regardless if they were horrible people or not. They were just so dynamic and in your face. I loved the writing because it always kept me interested. For me, I’m giving this book 4 stars. It wasn’t perfect, but it was solid and I definitely want to continue the series.
Pixie: I didn’t see that twist coming either. Though I found a little rushed, I was really surprised and found it completely realistic. One of the best endings I’d read recently, anyway. It left me wanting more out of this series for sure. Because of the outstanding characterization and one of my favorite time periods to read in, I’m going to give this 3.5 stars. It was almost a 4 star read but I couldn’t quite get into the whole story at times. I shall be continuing though and I look forward to it!
Lyn: 3.5 stars here. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but some of Margo’s portions bored me a bit. I am really excited about reading the sequel, though!
Kara: Haha, Lyn is bored by Margo and she is my favorite. Figures. 😛 Next month’s pick is Coda by Emma Trevayne.