Unrivaled Review: Lights, Camera, Gossip…? It’s Not You, It’s Me

November 14, 2016 by Aila J. | ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Unrivaled Review: Lights, Camera, Gossip…? It’s Not You, It’s MeUnrivaled by Alyson Noel
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 10th 2016
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Everyone wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

I didn’t finish this book, but not because it was bad! It wasn’t particularly annoying, frustrating, or frightening. Hear me out! One of the biggest reasons is my mood, and I guess my propensity against these kind of books. When I first read the blurb, I thought it would be a fun thrill or mystery, but it’s much more than that. Unrivaled explores the intricacies of Hollywood and the top percent of elites who bathe in wealth through the eyes of three vastly different and vastly realistic characters. This all holds up for a promising setup that I just didn’t have a heart as the reader to take on for 400 pages. I stopped after page 150 and have no regrets, partly because my review list is too huge to put up with a book I wasn’t enjoying, and partly because I knew I would not have been able to give a better review than what I could drum up from the first 100 pages. So this review will basically have what I thought of the book up to now (which is nothing bad!) and reasons why it just wasn’t for me.

I really enjoyed the characterizations of each teen we follow through the book, although I can’t say I actually liked their character themselves. They all have their own agendas that overlap throughout the book. We have Layla, the wannabe reporter who doesn’t fit in the norm and has a raging personality. There’s Aster, born with a silver spoon in her mouth and chasing her dream of being an actress. And then Tommy, who is pursuing the role of a famous musician after coming to LA with nothing to his name. They’re all real and have their strengths and weaknesses. They also get caught into this famous club owner’s scheme of promoting the biggest club there is in LA. Thus, the VIP passes and whatnot. Each uses their creativity to garner up interest to the clubs they’re tasked to promote.

‘I hate our celebrity-worshipping culture as much as you do. And I totally agree the whole club scene is one major sleaze fest. But wouldn’t you rather I do somthing to shine a light on all that? Doesn’t that beat sitting around and complaining?’


It’s a very interesting premise, and the foundations are on drama and competition that I just don’t have the heart to read about at this time. I’m extremely tired and frustrated not at the book but at the world around me right now. In such a time of political turmoil and growing restlessness where I live, reading about the top celebrities of Hollywood cheat on their girlfriends (or not) seems trivial and unnecessary. It isn’t just the current situation, though. I’ve been holding off this book for a while, if only because I don’t like tabloids or celebrity gossip or who’s who in Hollywood in real life. This definitely transfers to fiction as well, and I don’t have the heart to really care about Aster’s spoiled interest in superficial things (and any possible character development) or Layla’s anger towards the world around her (and any possible explanations on why). I’m more of the person to scour the news for new scientific inventions that have been made, or odd phenomenons that occur. Coupled that with my stress and constant state of melancholy because of school work, the administration, and preparation for college, this isn’t really a book that could alleviate those pains. I guess it’s because I’m seeing people my age reach for goals I wouldn’t spend time on doing, and ultimately the lack of connection towards the characters (even though they were pretty well-written).

Someday he’d show him, prove his worth, and make Ira regret the day he walked into Farrington’s.


Life is too short for me to read about first world problems, and I can’t really appreciate this story and its character and the ever-growing plot as much as it deserves to be appreciated. I also want to spend more time with words I enjoy reading, and you know something’s wrong when you keep glancing at the page numbers every 10 pages. However, I feel as if this is definitely a “me” problem as there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about the book. Noel’s writing shows depth in the characters that are super realistic and easy to empathize with (just not me). I skimmed the last part too and the mystery also seems intriguing! (If only it happened more early on in the story). So I can definitely say that there will be readers out there who will enjoy this book! I, however, will be staying away from contemporaries that deal with celeb life and gossip.

Rating: DNF 

Thank you Harper Collins for the review copy!


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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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18 responses to “Unrivaled Review: Lights, Camera, Gossip…? It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. I used to be a reader who “finishes the book no matter what”. Lately I find it easier to put a book aside if I don’t like it. Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy. I haven’t heard about this book before, and I don’t think it’s for me. Sorry to hear it didn’t live up to your expectations, but at least you were able to enjoy some aspects of the story. Thank you for your honest review, Aila!
    My recent post Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen. I loved it so much.

    • It's my pleasure! I'm glad you've started putting books aside if you haven't been enjoying them – I have too, and it's really helped my TBR pile dwindle (lol). I wish I could have been more invested in the whole Hollywood scene, but I guess now I know those books aren't really my style.

  2. Somewhat Reserved

    Honestly, you didn't even discourage me from reading it. I'm just not that into books about Hollywood as well, either. :/

    • LOL I'm glad to hear that. I probably won't be looking at any other Hollywood or Gossip Girl books later on either… they're definitely not my type of contemporary.

  3. sydneysshelves

    II know what you mean about mood affecting whether you read a book or not. If I'm not in the mood I straight up just stop after a few chapters. Life is too short to read something you don't enjoy.

  4. Aww…I'm sorry this didn't click with you Aila. 🙁 But I can definitely see why you didn't completely love it. Celeb life and gossip aren't my cup of tea either, so I think I'll take your advice and give this a miss. Thanks for sharing though and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • Thanks Zoe! I'm actually disappointed in myself that I couldn't finish but like I said, life is too short for books I don't enjoy hehe. 😛 Now I know that celeb life and gossip books aren't my thing as well.

  5. Jamie

    I read this book too! You were right not to finish it, there's a twist at the end but it mainly just keeps falling down the rabbit hole of celeb gossip and just becomes more convoluted. I can't say it wasn't entertaining, though! Plus, the cover is gorgeous, which is like 80% the reason I picked up the book in the first place.

    • LOL JAMIE that is very, very good to hear. 😉 I also pretty much picked it out because of the cover but alas, it's not my thing. Lesson definitely learned.

    • Thanks Nick <3 It's been a tough month on general.

      Yeah I was initially drawn to the cover (lol) and possible character development but going through the gossip and twists just wasn't worth it for me.

  6. This book kind of reminds me of the celebrity version of The Thousandth Floor with all the drama and celebrity pairings lol! Thanks for sharing Aila <3

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