Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book 279: Messy


"On television, big, revealing statements always elicit loud gasps, and then a lot of background whispering with hands clapped to open mouths, while the truth-teller stands by looking refreshingly liberated. But TV is a dirty, dirty liar. Because there were no dramatic sound effects for Max's confession, no slow clap, nor a handy background music swell to let everyone know she'd just done something courageous. There was just silence. And then, fury."

Dates read: November 27- December 1, 2018

Rating: 6/10

As much as I aim for authenticity in this space, there's no denying that I think carefully about what I'm putting up here. Everything gets edited after drafting. There's plenty that I think that never even makes the draft. I don't have my whole name or the most pertinent personal details about myself on here, but it would probably not be at all difficult to find me if you put even a little bit of effort into it, and people that I know in my real life read it. So I have to be mindful of how I present myself, how it reflects on me and the people in my life. Thankfully, there's not much controversial about a book blog!

Curating an online presence is something basic to the life of a millennial. So when teenage wannabe starlet Brooke Berlin is trying to build her profile in Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan's Messy, she seizes on the idea of a blog. She wants it to be witty and dishy and make her seem like the kind of sassy and smart girl that people want to see onscreen. The only problem is that she's not an especially talented writer. She puts up an ad, prepared to pay a generous salary (with an action movie megastar for a father, she's got the resources to make it happen), only to find that the best applicant is her nemesis, Max McCormack...who just so happens to be her sister's best friend.

Max has no real interest in making Brooke look good, but she does need some funding for an NYU summer writing program, so is soon up and running. In order to get the material she needs, Max is forced to spend quite a bit of time with Brooke, including on the set of the Nancy Drew movie Brooke has been cast in the lead role for. A flirty friendship develops between Max and Brady, who's been cast as Brooke's love interest, but when Brooke takes an interest in him, Max finds herself having a much harder time taking those checks and letting everyone think that Max's witty, irreverent personality is actually Brooke's.

This book is a kind of sequel/companion to Cocks and Morgan's debut, Spoiled, though that book's lead character Molly (Brooke's sister) takes a backseat in this one. While I found Spoiled a little too breezy for a book about a teenager who finds herself in the middle of celebrity LA after the death of her mother and the uprooting of her entire life, that same tone works much better here for a story without that kind of heaviness. Messy is funny, and packed with pop culture references that will delight those of us who grew up in the 90s. There's even a makeover montage! And in a nod to Cocks and Morgan's day jobs (they write, we even get excerpts of the blog posts that go up, which are themselves a snarky treat.

The biggest downside here is how predictable it all is. Pretty much as soon as the plot starts to get set up, it's obvious where it's going to go. There isn't much in the way of subverted expectations, which could have elevated this from "fun fluff" to something more. That's not to say this isn't enjoyable, it very much is! But it's so light as to be almost completely forgettable. This is a perfect beach/airplane doesn't require much attention and it's entertaining. If you're looking for that, you've found a great option! If you're looking for anything more, though, look elsewhere.

One year ago, I was reading: Amateur

Two years ago, I was reading: The Last Romantics

Three years ago, I was reading: Silent Spring

Four years ago, I was reading: Moonglow

Five years ago, I was reading: Suspicious Minds

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