Saturday, June 17, 2017
BOOK REVIEW: Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl
TITLE: Royce Rolls
AUTHOR: Margaret Stohl
GENRE: satire, humor
PLOT SUMMARY: Bentley Royce is the middle child of one of the most famous families in America. She's grown up on the show Rolling With the Royces, and is constantly in the public eye. Her mother, Mercedes, is the media-obsessed matriarch, her sister Porsche is the vapid narcissist, her brother Maybach (Bach for short) is the level-headed nice guy, and Bentley is the bad girl. Bent has a reputation for being rude, demanding, party-happy, and constantly drunk. There's just one little problem: it's not true. Off-camera, Bent is a quiet, unhappy girl, who'd like nothing more than to be normal and go to college. When RWTR is in danger of being cancelled, at first, Bent is thrilled, but then Porsche wrecks everything by coming up with the perfect plan to save the show: she's going to get engaged, married, and divorced on national television. Further complicating matters is that Porsche's fake fiance is actually a nice guy, and Porsche is genuinely beginning to love him. And then Bent and the fiance in question go over a cliff in his car... on the day of the wedding.
FIRST THOUGHTS: This book was kind of a disappointment. I thought that the premise sounded hilarious, seeing as how we live in a post-Kardashian world. And while it started off good, ultimately, this book failed to live up to the hype. It was kind of confusing, and the characters weren't as developed as they could've been. There were some good comedic moments, but not nearly as many as I was hoping for. I don't think it's a bad book, really. It's just... okay. It's just okay, which is annoying since it could've been great.
THOUGHTS ON PLOT: The plot started out strong, with the establishment of Bentley's on-camera and off-camera lives, and the introduction of Porsche's on-air wedding plan. However, as the book went on, the storyline got increasingly confused, increasingly convoluted, and increasingly harder to follow. By the time the day of Porsche's wedding came, I barely knew what was going on. And the ending just made me go, "...Huh?" I know it was supposed to be a twist, but a twist is only effective if it makes sense. It could be that I just missed some things, but to me it came out of nowhere.
4 / 10
THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: First, the good. I liked Bentley. She was a very compelling protagonist, and remarkably relateable despite her completely bizarre situation. I also, surprisingly, grew to like Porsche, once it became clear she really did care for her fiance, Whitey. Whitey also surprised me. I think he's meant to be a parody of Macklemore, so while he was at times ridiculous, he was also genuinely fun and likable. Bach was also nice, though he didn't get much to do, plot-wise. However, the closest things this book had to a true antagonist were disappointing. Mercedes, Bentley's mother, is a stage mom to the nth degree -- seriously, the woman puts Mama Rose to shame. However, unlike Mama Rose, all attempts at giving Mercedes a deeper character just fell flat. All the moments where it's meant to show that she does love her children, despite her appalling behavior, felt unnatural and insincere. Mercedes, as a person, is shallow, yes, but her character didn't have to be -- it was disappointing that she was. Jeff Grunburg, a network exec, is the other antagonist of the book, and I honestly couldn't figure out what his deal even was. Yes, he's an asshole, but why should we care? A lot of people the Royces have to deal with are assholes. Hell, the Royces act like assholes a lot. Characters' identities also get confused a lot -- there are a couple cases where two separate people turn out to be the same one, and Bent has a boring love interest for some reason... agh, so many missed opportunities.
4 / 10
THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Okay, so the constant footnotes are funny, but a bit confusing. The footnotes are written as if someone's editing a manuscript -- so is the book being written in-universe? By who? Why? When? Is this all the "real" story then, or is someone making it up? It's never entirely clear. The bits written as gossip rags are funny and well-written, though. (And, if you've ever read a gossip rag, you know they're accurate.) The proper narration is decent enough, with some humor, though nothing LOL-worthy. Overall, it is a very readable book, but nothing spectacular.
6 / 10
THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: Eh. There are no POC characters to speak of, which I suppose isn't a shock -- it is set in Hollywood. Bach is openly gay, and Whitey mentions he has two moms, so there's some LGBT rep, if not much. (It is one of the only books I've encountered that actually mentions asexuality as a valid orientation. So that's something!) A lot of the Royces onscreen personas rely on sexist stereotypes, but in the case of Porsche and Mercedes, it feels like they really are those stereotypes -- so the attempts at satirizing them fall flat. The book makes a commendable effort, but it just doesn't work for me.
4 / 10
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was definitely not the book for me. I see why other people like it, and it's far from the worst book ever, but honestly, the only reason I bothered to finish was so I could find out what happened with the "car over cliff" thing. (Spoiler alert: I'm still not sure what happened. Like I said -- confusing.)
FINAL GRADE: 4 / 10
Thanks for reading this review! Have you read "Royce Rolls"? If so, tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
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