Overall this was a fabulous series, and now that it is done, a great time to read it!
Instead of a synopsis for the first two books, here are two videos that do a great job of showing what the books are all about.
The original first cover for Unrivaled is still one of my all time favorite covers. I wished they had continued in that vein with the other two, but alas no. Not sure why the powers that be went in the direction they did, but I think they lost something with the changes.
I don’t want to give to much away about the story, it is a mystery and a bit of a thriller. But basically it is about a group of teens who meet during a contest promoting local nightclubs. By the end of Unrivaled, one of them is arrested for the disappearance of Madison Brooks, a young Hollywood star. There is a large cast of characters, but the story is mostly told through Layla Harrison, Aster Amirpour, Tommy Phillips and Madison Brooks points of view.
Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter and enters the contest to earn money for college in NYC. She also writes a Hollywood gossip blog and uses her access to the nightclubs to further her blogs popularity.
Tommy Phillips moved to LA from Oklahoma in the hopes of becoming a rock star. He hopes the contest will open doors for his career.
Aster Amirpour is a rich girl who dreams of becoming a star like Madison Brooks. She too is hoping the contest will help her career.
Madison Brooks is a star with a very dark and hidden past that is about to catch up to her. She doesn’t let many people into her circle and no one except one person knows the truth about her.
Trena Moretti is a reporter who is looking for the story that will catapult her career to the top. Madison’s disappearance is just the ticket she was looking for.
Mateo Luna, a surfer turned model and Layla’s ex-boyfriend. He is often the voice of reason through out the books.
Ira Redman is the man behind the contest and the owner of the nightclubs being promoted. Although we only get one chapter from his point of view, you always have this feeling that he is more involved in everything than he lets on.
The first book, Unrivaled, was all about the contest and the events leading up to Madison’s disappearance. It was a fun introduction to the characters as well. I liked Tommy and Mateo at once. Layla took awhile for me to warm up to. Aster, was my least favorite character, but I loved her relationship with her younger brother Javen. They had a great sibling relationship which was nice to see. Madison was also hard to like, she was stand offish and very manipulative. By the end of the book, I sort of felt like she got what she had deserved. I was also convince that her disappearance was not what it seemed, that maybe she had just slipped off for some alone time and to hell with the repercussions her disappearance caused.
Blacklist starts pretty much where the first one ended. No one knows what happened to Madison, and rumors and speculations are running wild. Aster, Layla and Tommy are caught up in the middle of it and find themselves on the wrong side of their five minutes of fame. But even being on the wrong side has it’s perks. Tommy sees his singing career take off and even Layla has some advantages handed to her. Aster is the one who struggles the most and has the most to loose. She has to convince the others to help her find out what really happened to Madison. All three, plus Ryan, Madison’s former boyfriend, embark on a dangerous journey to unravel Madison’s past and their uncertain futures.
Infamous wraps up the story. There are some twists and unexpected turns to the story of what happened to Madison. By the end of the book you are able to narrow down the suspects, but it was still a bit of a surprise as to who was behind it all and why. This book was fast paced and quite riveting until the very end.
There is of course some romance in these books. I won’t say who gets together with who, as that is part of the fun and in some cases, how Madison’s disappearance unfolds. I will say that I liked how all of the relationships developed and the people who needed to end up together do so. The relationships all felt authentic and well developed.
The setting of LA and the nightlife there was perfect. I also really liked that the chapter headings were all song titles. I spent a few hours looking up the few I didn’t know and discovered a few new artists, Michael Ray for instance, (are all country singers that hot these days? I might have to become a fan!) and having a few fun moments when I realized that a song I liked had a totally different title than I would have thought. I never would have guessed that Bullets with Butterfly Wings was that song by the Smashing Pumpkins that I like so much. It was fun figuring out how the song title fit the chapters.
The first two books stood up to the reread test, just as good as the first time around. I’m sure the third would stand up to it as well. This would be a perfect series to take on vacation. A fast paced and thrilling read with characters that will stay with you and an interesting look into the glamor and glitz that is Hollywood and LA.