Meet Viva Cohen: a teenage schoolgirl bombshell. Her bedroom walls are plastered with posts of silver-screen legends, and underneath her school uniform she wears vintage thigh-high stockings. Her best friends are a drugged-out beauty queen and an ageing rock star, and she lives in London with her gay uncle, Manny.
Viva spends her days gatecrashing gigs, skiving her exams and trying to live life as glamorously as her number one icon, Elizabeth Taylor. But then she sets out on a pilgrimage: in search of real love, experience and Jack Nicholson. Wicked-tongued and restless, Viva is like no other girl and this is no ordinary summer ...
Okay lets first talk about the cover. The one I have…GOD it’s horrible. Like seriously? It doesn’t even seem like they care at all as to whether it does well. Which is crazy considering all the rave reviews on the cover and back. Why not make the cover pretties and get more readers?
Right onto the blurb…It’s not too bad I guess. When they call Ray an ageing rockstar I think 50 not 23. Also, Manny, really? I know this is being “name-ist” but I really don’t like the name Manny on anything but a mammoth. Okay she doesn’t spend her days gatecrashing gigs. She went once because Ray bitches that she doesn’t like his music. As for searching for real love…I guess that’s kind of a judgement call. I’m not sure which of the two “loves” she’s talking about, and I honestly can’t believe she loved either of them. Well maybe the second guy, but the first certainly not. And she doesn’t even search for them! They just fall into her life and she shrugs and accepts them. And Jack Nicholson? Really? HE DOESN’T COME UP AT ALL IN THE NOVEL EXCEPT IN PASSING!!! Who the fuck cares? Just because his name is famous doesn’t mean you need to use it on the blurb.
My favourite line in the whole blurb is: Wicked-tongued and restless, Viva is like no other girl and this is no ordinary summer … Because it’s actually true, and is a good, edgy description.
Let’s start the content part of this novel by saying this: I believe Emma Forrest is a good writer. Okay let’s rephrase… I believe she can write well. Her writing is easy to read, and there were multiple times when I read a sentence or paragraph or page and went, “gosh the writing is excellent. Her grasp on what an adolescent feels is amazing.” Many of her descriptions were also outstanding. I was able to vividly picture what she was describing… WHEN she actually uses words every generation would understand.
Why I rate this book only three stars despite the paragraph above?
I’ve Googled heaps of writing advice and something that has always stuck with me about the beginning of novels and how to make them interesting. If you’re reading over your manuscript and wondering why the beginning isn’t gripping ask yourself: Do I need these first few pages? Sometimes authors will have written them to get themselves into the flow of the story, etc, but they aren’t really needed.
It takes Namedropper at least seventy pages to actually get into the story. The first pages are filled with character descriptions, random scenes, and very little plot. I found it very hard to care. If you follow me on Goodreads you’ll have seen my frustrated and annoyed updates as to why was I reading this (by the way, just realised, I don’t have a Goodreads button yet! Or a reading challenge button yet).
I learnt two years ago, one year ago? to not put massive descriptions about the characters in the middle of the story. It’s better to slowly introduce characters as time goes on. It doesn’t break up the story (and make the reader FORGET what’s going on) and the characters are more mysterious.
Also the references. Way to make a novel not timeless. I know there are hardly any novels which become classics, considering the amount of books being published – especially with ebooks now – but wouldn’t you rather not include heaps of references that people are not going to get. Some references are okay…like Santa, or God, but not celebrities. You’ve got no idea if your readers will understand the references or even know who the hell the references are. This book was first published in 1998, I’m three years older than it, and I’ve got no idea who half the references are to.
The book was quite easy to read once it got into a plot, but the characters… Man oh man, I know not all characters are saints, but all the characters had ANNOYING issues which were horribly obvious. The only person who had enough good qualities for me to like them was Manny (you know how I feel about his name) and he was still slightly annoying as he was in no way a good enough authority figure for Viva.
There is some hope for characters like these: that by the end of the novel the characters grow up.
Some did. Her drugged-out Beauty Queen did. Possibly the aging Rockstar. I’m not sure, it doesn’t say too much (by the way – worst character I’ve ever had the unfortunate incident of knowing, even worse than Mr. Grey… -_- ). One of her loves…well he is tied up, and the other one, I don’t care. He doesn’t stay in the novel long enough for me to care. Though I feel sorry for his girlfriend.
All in all, did I find it worthwhile? Hm… I’m not sure. Since it was short I think I’m gunna say yes. I quite liked Emma Forrest’s writing, so I think I’ll definitely buy another of her books. Other people have said they read her Memoir, loved it, and bought other novels, but didn’t like them. So… I think I’m going to buy that – when it comes time to buying new things – and hope for the best! After all Namedropper was her debut novel 🙂
Next review is So Much To Tell You by John Marsden! I read it all today, easily! 😀 It was wonderful. I’ll tell you all about it hopefully tomorrow 🙂 I’m reading the first two Vampire Diaries now, and I’m actually keener than I was whilst doing the Reading List Showdown. I’m keen for some teenage romance after a Billabong novel and two odd (one weird, one good) novels.
What is everyone else reading? 🙂
Jo Carter x