I stumbled across this book knowing little more about it than what the blurb, the first page and the author page printed on the book itself told me. Three things were immediately in its favour: it is written by an Australian, the blurb is intriguing and the first line made me want to keep reading. I’m always a little apprehensive when I choose books in this manner, because I want my choice to turn out to be a good one, however, I’ve learned that that isn’t always the case.
Thankfully, I don’t regret picking up Loathing Lola. It is William Kostakis’ debut YA novel and first published in 2008, when Kostakis was only 19. The main character is fifteen-year old Courtney Marlow, who, after auditioning for a reality TV show called Real Teens for a bet, winds up with the lead role. It’s not exactly the best timing, as Courtney’s had a pretty tough year so far. But her family really need the money she’ll get paid, so Courtney signs the contract and the cameras start rolling.
The novel is written in the first-person and Kostakis does a pretty good job at inhabiting a female character. The story is fast-paced and the plot believable, although it would have been nice to see some of the characters fleshed out a little more. I also found the friendship between Courtney and her second-best friend Katie a little unrealistic. Katie blatantly uses Courtney for her newfound fame and I didn’t quite buy the way Courtney reacts when she discovers what Katie has been up to.
It is interesting to read a book like this by an Australian writer, as reality TV shows are definitely not as plentiful here as they are in some other countries. We sure have our fair share, but they seem to be more of the singing/cooking/talent variety rather than cameras documenting a particular person’s life; especially someone who isn’t already famous. Loathing Lola is an insightful take on the absurdities of reality TV, and the levels people will go to for five minutes of fame.
Pan Macmillan Australia, 2008