Thursday, 29 August 2013

#CBR5 Book 108. "Messy" by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Green-haired alterna-girl Max MacCormack only goes to Colby Randall, a posh Hollywood prep school, because her mother is the principal. She's full of scorn for the rich and spoiled around her, and especially loathes that her mother forces her to take part in extra curricular events like planning the spring carnival. Max needs to earn money, and her current after school job is not working out as well as she expected. When she is offered insane amounts of money to ghost write Brooke Berlin's blog, she can't afford to refuse. Now she just has to spend most of her free time with a girl she can't stand, and convincingly channel her on the internet.

Brooke Berlin, Hollywood starlet and daughter of mega superstar Brick Berlin (think Arnie, Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise rolled into one) is convinced that she's one step away from the stardom she deserves. A popular blog showing the world what an "It Girl" she is, will help launch her rising star, she just doesn't have time to write it herself. So why not hire some creative writing nerd who will be grateful for any time she gets to spend with Brooke? Unfortunately, the only serious applicant to her ad is the spiky malcontent Max, Brooke's half sister's best friend. Can this girl be trusted to help jump start Brooke's career?

Brooke and Max are forced to agree to a truce, and before long, they're spending most of their time together, after Brooke's blog becomes a roaring success. Can the two wildly different girls learn to be friends? Even when there's a cute boy in the middle?

Messy is the second novel from Go Fug Yourself goddesses Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. It's a sequel of sorts to Spoiled, where Brooke discovers that her father has a second daughter, whose mother has just died, when the girl (Max' best friend) comes to live with them in Hollywood. While Brooke was more of the antagonist in that book, here she gets to be one of the protagonists, and a very fun one at that.

The authors have admitted that when they were writing Spoiled, their model for Max was Mac from Veronica Mars. Max copes admirably with the fact that she is seen as somewhat of a freak at Colby Randall, and that her best (and pretty much only) friend is dating her brother, but her main worry is the terrible case of writer's block she suffers; not useful when she needs to write an admissions essay for a creative writing class in New York. That class is also the reason she needs to earn money. Unlike most of her classmates, Max' parents are not loaded. In fact, Max' father is unemployed, and the entire family are managing on her mother's salary. So when Brooke offers Max a ridiculous paycheck to ghost write her blog, Max forces herself to accept.

Naturally, as the two very different girls spend more time together, they start discovering that they may have more things in common than they expected. They even start approaching something close to a friendship, at least until a cute boy enters the mix. Max has been infatuated with the school quarterback for years and is so used to pining for him, that she refuses to accept her obvious  mutual attraction to Brady (real name Taylor!) Swift. Brady/Taylor is Brooke's co-star in the new edgy Nancy Drew movie (where Nancy grows up in a slum, trying to read Les Miserables by candlelight, and her father's a drug dealer - I would pay good money to see this film!).

Brooke doesn't really like Brady (he's shorter than her and quite geeky, after all) but she knows all about how romances between co-stars can help publicise a film. Max keeps insisting that she doesn't really like Brady as anything but a friend, and when Brooke really puts the moves on a boy, he's pretty powerless to resist. Normally such a love triangle can feel contrived, but as the main focus in Messy isn't the romance angle - which girl will Brady choose in the end, but rather, will Brooke and Max realise that despite their differences, they've actually become really good friends? Brady is just the device to put some tension between them, which they have to work through to come out better friends in the end.

I liked Spoiled, but it didn't amuse me as much as Messy, which had me cackling with laughter several times while reading it. The authors, as anyone who reads Go Fug Yourself will know, have a wonderful snarky wit, and their observations on celebrity culture, both real and made up for this fictional universe, are wonderful. There are so many digs at movie stars, and reality shows, and celebrity culture, and at the same time, they manage to make both Brooke and Max so very likable. If you want a light-hearted, amusing read, you could do a LOT worse than picking up this book.

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