This is not the real world by Anna Carey

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This sequel to This is not the Jess show updates us on Jess’s escape from a ‘Truman’-style (1998 film) reality TV program in which she had grown up from childhood, deceived into believing it was her real life. Now she and her boyfriend Kipps are in hiding. As an 18 year-old, the show no longer has a legal hold on her, but Kipps is only 17 and his parents had signed a contract for him to stay.

The first chapters bring us up to speed on past events and characters, so the book could be read on its own, but it is no doubt really intended for the fans of the last book, hungry to know what happens next.

As events unfold and Jess becomes aware of the ruthlessness of the deception perpetrated by Like-Life Productions, and the unknown fate of other uncooperative participants, she makes the decision to step back into the show, determined to reveal the extent of producer Chrysalis’ unscrupulous control.

The book becomes a fast-paced thriller, with the kind of tense moments seen in this film genre: avoiding the surveillance of hidden cameras and microphones, uncertainty about who can be trusted, the pressure of downloading computer data as seconds tick away in a race against time.

This is not the real world is also a clever expose of the manipulation of viewers by reality TV productions where the goal is to create drama and hook in the viewers – in a similar vein to Sophie Gonzales recent book Never ever getting back together. Carey’s story, however, is much darker: the lives of Jess and Kipps are in danger. Like-Life Productions will stop at nothing to maintain their deception – even murder.

While the novel comes to a satisfying conclusion, some threads offer themselves to the possibility of another sequel. I’m sure readers would grab the chance to read more.

Themes: Surveillance, Reality TV, Deception, Romance, Thriller.

Helen Eddy