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How to Die Famous by Benjamin Dean - Review

Friday, May 17, 2024

I bought this book in a bookshop in Edinburgh because I liked the other book I read by Benjamin Dean and I liked the sound of this one so I picked it up with a book token I got for my birthday. I picked it up at the end of April and it took me absolutely bloody ages to read. I just really didn't like it, but I can't really put my finger on why. 

The main character is Abel, and he's just got a job on the reboot of a series called Sunset High. He's British, but he's now jetting off to LA to film alongside the other stars - Lucky, Ryan, and Ella. But Abel is hiding the fact that his brother Adam was a victim of the Sunset High 'curse'. Adam fell to his death from a hotel roof three years ago. Abel is convinced he was murdered, thanks to Adam's final message to him, in which he wanted to talk to Abel about Omnificent, the production company that makes Sunset High. So Abel is going to try to uncover what happened. 

There were other victims of the 'curse' too. In the original series, a young woman called Mila was trated badly and has since retired from public life. Then in the first reboot, which Adam was working on, a young woman called Penelope disappeared and was never seen again. But the teens think must be different now, right?  

The other three don't know who Abel is in relation to the production member who fell off the roof, so Abel is able to do some detective work, including finding some people who Penelope spoke to just before her disappearance. But the other three have problems too. The book is told from the points of view of all four of them, although mostly Abel, and this is one of the things which didn't quite work for me. It just made it difficult for the reader to get to know any of the four of them particularly well. 

Lucky's mum was killed in a car crash being chased by paparazzi who were trying to take photos of him, so he's obviously feeling really guilty and stuff. He's Omni's leading young man, but he's drinking a lot to numb his pain and they're running out of patience with him. Ryan and Lucky are a couple, but Ryan is blindsided at the beginning of the book when she finds herself replaced by Ella. Ella and she are best friends, but of course, now the press are saying there's a rift between them because Lucky and Ella are seeing each other. Ryan also feels she is being pushed out by Omni in order for Ella to take over from her. 

Ella came from nothing, and her mother is pressuring her to make her career, mostly because she would like to spend all Ella's money. Ella has no one in the world, except her personal assistant Natalie.

Except none of this is actually true, which annoyed me. It's obvious there are secrets and baddies everywhere, but I just found the whole thing a little bit unbelievable. I'm sorry because I wanted to like this, but I've got to give it three out of five. 

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