Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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A beautiful idols novel. Katherine Tegen Books, Harper Collins; 2016. ISBN 9780062496744
(Age: 15+) This is a dramatic mystery involving a number of aspirational young people who get involved in a competition because of their ambitions to get ahead. The competition arena is the Nightclub scene in Hollywood which is under the rule and authority of a somewhat questionable, yet successful owner who proves to be conniving and manipulative in subtle ways. The lives of these young aspirants get woven into the story of another young person who is already at the top of the ladder and her career as a famous Hollywood actress. Are they all just pawns in a bigger game, or are they unwittingly being used to hide a major crime? Relationships and desires get twisted and strained as the wealthy Hollywood and attention-seeking world of fame and fortune infiltrates like a snake among the grass into the motivations of the young competitors. Their lives become wrapped cruelly into the Nightclub owner's world (or is it Hollywood's world?) of using people for his own benefit. Along the journey, the young people confront the after dark pleasure-seeking and drug culture, their own moral and sexual choices are stretched, the power of social media is revealed and we see the lure of money manipulating and corrupting.
Because this is so like a television-mating between episodes of The Apprentice and a LA Crime drama, it will be enjoyed by the television generation. The blurb implies that those who have enjoyed Pretty little liars, a sexy Teen drama, will also enjoy this book. It is not something to recommend highly, but the mystery does engage the reader, even as the lifestyle of the rich and famous is revealed in all its self-centred ugliness despite the facade of beauty and pleasure. It is obviously the first of a series, as the central mystery is not solved by the end of the book, and as in a television crime drama series it leaves the reader hanging slightly unsatisfied at the end of the novel. Noel has written a novel that wears high heels and designer clothes and lines up outside Hollywood Nightclubs hoping to get attention and entry into the higher echelons of the fame world.
Carolyn Hull