by Emily Adrian
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Publication Date: June 2, 2015 by Dial Books
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Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.
Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I might be rude in saying this but I have to. Can I just pretend I never read this book? I’m just… What did I read? I feel like the cover of the book betrayed me since it’s made to look like a fun and entertaining read when it was the complete opposite. The story was incredibly slow for the majority of the book. It finally started to pick up after 73% (I just checked) and it was when the “real” drama was presented in the story. I’m not saying it went zooming fast after that point but it slowly started to build up to the end of the story but it still wasn’t enough to wow me or leave me intrigued by the drama and scandal that were very predictable. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Rebecca has loved acting since she played a fairy in A Midsummer Nights Dream. Since then, her focus has only been on getting the lead in her school’s plays. Good luck was on her side because she started getting the leads, made friends with her co-stars and even had their own group name: “The Essential Five”. They had a rule, which was to never date one another but of course, feelings will start arising at one point. Now, this is misleading because the story’s plot is not even centered around the “forbidden” romance between Rebecca and Charlie. View Spoiler »I say “forbidden” with the quotation marks because the reality is that their romance isn’t even forbidden. Rebecca thinks she will have to hide it but her friends are cool with it because Charlie had already talked to them about it so really, it’s not forbidden. « Hide Spoiler From an outsider’s point of view or in this case, my point of view, is that this book is more centered on friendship and not the good kind. It is also centered on having feelings for someone who you should totally not have feelings for because this is truly forbidden. I would also say it is a bit centered in finding yourself but it’s not the major point here.
The friendship in this story was… Ugly. Hideous. The stay away kind. The Essential Fives start out to be kind of close and friendly, but too soon two of them stop speaking. Then, when rumors start flying around, a major part of the group believes the rumors and stop talking to the very minority of the group. Not only that, one of them even participates in spreading more rumors around, believing they are true. They just betray you without a second thought. I mean, what kind of friendship is this?! I disliked every member of The Essential Fives, including our main character Rebecca.
Let me discuss the characters I did like and these have to be Mary, who’s Rebecca’s sister and the plays director, Mr. McFadden. I honestly believe they brought some kind of enjoyment to the story even if they rarely made appearances. Mary is a free-spirited woman who had a very wrecked past but has redeemed herself, has matured and is a very nice independent woman. In my opinion, she plays a slight part in Rebecca’s growth now as a teenager, but that’s just me. I was very wary of Mr. McFadden at the beginning because he seemed kind of creepy and for some unknown reason I pictured him as an old man, but he is actually 26-years-old. He obviously loves what he does as the plays director and he really wants what’s best for his students, even if he has preferences with some. View Spoiler »His favorite is Rebecca but he only sees her as a student so no worries there. Yet, Rebecca starts seeing him in a new light and the little conversation she has had with him has been enough for her to have feelings for him. « Hide Spoiler
Overall: I think this book could have been something unique and impressive yet it failed to do so, in my opinion. I was anticipating a light and funny story and what I got was less than I had bargained for. It really disappointed me.
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